Munich Startup: What motivated you to found the company – back then at Catchys, but also now at Superangels?
Franzi Majer: It’s just a great feeling to build a new product, a company from scratch and to be there every step of the way. I find it incredibly satisfying to have the opportunity to team up with exactly the right people, to build a team that sticks together and goes the extra mile in the face of all the challenges that such a startup entails. Also, I’ve always been more of a generalist. I love to keep digging into new topics. That’s an advantage, especially at the beginning of a startup, because you first have to start everything yourself – until there’s enough money to put together a team of experts.
Different personalities bring diversity to the team
Munich Startup: In your opinion, what advantages do diversified startup or VC teams bring with them?
Franzi Majer: Diverse teams are important for every project and bring many advantages. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in startups, at VCs, in large corporations or in individual projects. Before I go into the advantages, however, it is more important for me to ask how diversity is defined.
Even though the interview is in the “Women in Tech” section: Diversity – and this is just my personal opinion – is not defined by gender, social background or culture, but first and foremost by personality. A diverse team is a team that unites different, sometimes completely contradictory people. Everyone sees the world through different eyes, approaches and deals with problems differently. In my opinion, bringing these different personalities together to fight for the same cause brings the greatest energy to a team and thus also the best results.
That was always the decisive aspect in my selection of employees. Does this person fit into the team, does he complement the others and: Is he made for startups? For me, a team is diverse when the most different characters with all their strengths and weaknesses come together to find the best and ultimately most creative solutions because all perspectives are taken into account. Forcing diversity on the basis of gender or other obvious characteristics is, in my opinion, going in the wrong direction because it does not put the respective person at the centre.
Munich Startup: When and where do you get the best ideas?
Franzi Majer: Oh, that’s easy: when I’m riding my racing bike somewhere in the Bavarian no-man’s land…or when I’m walking my dog.
Munich Startup: What are your 3 favourite work tools?
Franzi Majer: Hubspot, Slack and Evernote.
Franzi Majer: Many are too modest when pitching
Munich Startup: What is your top tip for pitching?
Franzi Majer: Sales, sales, sales and convincingly! When pitching, whether fundraising for a startup, a VC fund or any other project: If I want to sell something, I also have to show that my product is the best. And I have to show that my team and I are the best at the same time to implement it and make it really big.
Take startups, for example: I assume that every founder is convinced of his or her own idea. Otherwise they wouldn’t start up. However, I believe that many are too modest when pitching. Then, in case of doubt, the other person doesn’t notice how much you’re burning for the cause. But modesty is completely out of place here. That doesn’t mean you should be a megalomaniac. But there is less danger of that in Europe anyway. At the same time – and unfortunately many still neglect this when pitching: Provide as much evidence as you can with numbers! If you can’t show any of your own company’s figures because you are not yet on the market: show plan figures, market data, competitor analyses including figures (if available), customer analyses, etc. And even more important: have the figures. And even more important: Have the figures under control and be prepared for critical questions.
Munich Startup: Does it seem like a good time to start up right now? Why?
Franzi Majer: Definitely! It’s true that the market environment is much more difficult for startups overall, not only in terms of fundraising. At the same time, there is still enough capital on the market. Therefore, convincing ideas and teams still have very good chances of being financed. Especially in the pre-seed and seed area, things are looking very positive.
For larger growth financings (i.e. everything from Series A+), the market is more difficult right now. So it’s actually a very good time to start up. Because by the time you need larger growth financing, the market has already recovered.
The bridge to the corporates is missing
Munich Startup: What do you think could be improved in Munich as a startup location?
Franzi Majer: First of all, I have to say that a lot has changed for the better in the last few years. When I think back to my first startup in 2012… Back then, there were rather loose local startup networks, smaller and very rare pitch events. It was altogether much harder to get access to the network. That has changed rapidly over time. Just look at the development of ‘Bits & Pretzels’, the numerous founder and investor roundtables, various other tech summits, partly initiated by investors, partly by founders. And now this year for the first time: the Munich Startup Festival!
All these events strengthen the local ecosystem. They promote exchange and create the perfect long-term basis for Munich to continue to assert itself as one of the best locations for startups. In the past, you could count them on one hand. Today, you rather have to choose exactly where to go because the options are so numerous. A real luxury problem.
But what I still miss is the bridge to classic successful corporates, which we have in a particularly high concentration in Munich, and innovative startups and investors. I believe that there is still huge potential lying dormant here that can only be exploited through intensive exchange. Some things are happening here, too, but there is still a lot of catching up to do. Precisely because we in Munich are so well positioned here on both sides.
Munich must come more to the fore internationally
And Munich itself needs to put itself even more in the foreground on an international level. We have some very innovative companies in areas such as tech and deep tech – and we have to communicate that quite aggressively. If you don’t do that, you won’t be heard and therefore won’t be relevant.
Munich Startup: Which investor would you like to meet in person? And what would you ask him or her?
Franzi Majer: Andy von Bechtholsheim. The question would be quite clear: when can we welcome him as a Superangel with us, what will be our first joint deal and how much of his own capital would he like to invest in our fund. Of course, only after I have pitched him Superangels and then hopefully only rhetorical questions will come.