Women in Tech: Mareike Pfennig from Mellow

Mareike Pfennig founded Mellow, an all-in-one coaching platform, together with an old school friend, Manuel Mai, in 2022. Mellow supports companies in the prevention of mental illness and in employee development. Before founding the company, Mareike studied information management and corporate communications, is a certified agile coach and new work consultant and has worked as a product manager for digital products and platforms.

Munich Startup: What motivated you to found the company?

Mareike Pfennig: Founding Mellow was a matter close to my heart.

In my personal environment, I have noticed time and again that many people struggle with mental challenges, often in silence. But I also see a growing need in society. Despite technological progress and networking, many people feel isolated and overwhelmed. At the same time, companies are struggling with high sickness rates and falling productivity. Mellow is my answer to these challenges – a platform that uses technology to connect and mentally empower people.

Founders need resilience and patience

Munich Startup: What do you wish you had known before you founded your first company?

Mareike Pfennig: Looking back, there are certainly many things I wish I had known before I founded my first company. But if I had to emphasize one point, it would be the importance of resilience and patience. Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. There are ups and downs, unexpected challenges and moments of doubt. Mental health plays a central role here. You have to learn to listen to yourself and your own needs, otherwise a start-up can quickly become overwhelming.

Munich Startup: How has your company been financed so far?

Mareike Pfennig: We are 100% self-financed and bootstrapped.

Munich Startup: When and where do you get the best ideas?

Mareike Pfennig: The best ideas usually come to me when I’m out walking. But I also like to challenge myself creatively here and there by going to inspiring events. That’s where I get out of my own bubble and meet new people and perspectives.

Munich Startup: What are your 3 favorite work tools?

Mareike Pfennig:

  • Trello: It’s great for teamwork. It helps me to plan projects, prioritize tasks and keep an overview.
  • Canva: An absolute game changer when it comes to creating designs. Whether it’s for marketing materials, presentations or social media posts, Canva is always my first port of call.
  • Miro: The collaborative whiteboard is a great tool for brainstorming together or visualizing ideas.

Mareike Pfennig: “Know your target group”

Munich Startup: What is your top tip for pitching?
Mareike Pfennig: Pitching is not just about presenting an idea or a product, but above all about telling a story that captivates and moves the audience. My top tip for pitching is therefore: know your target group and appeal to their emotions. For this, keep adapting your pitch. You won’t get far with “one-fits-all”.

Munich Startup: Does it seem like a good time to start a company right now? Why?

Mareike Pfennig: Yes, definitely. The current times are characterized by technological change, new working models and a growing awareness of social challenges. This creates numerous opportunities for innovative solutions and business models. If you start a business now, you can actively shape these changes and I’m very excited to see what ideas will come our way in the future.

Pent-up demand for AI applications in the healthcare sector

Munich Startup: Which technology or industry would you focus on for your next start-up?
Mareike Pfennig: AI will certainly be an indispensable technology in the future. I still see a lot of (pent-up) demand here, especially in the healthcare sector. For example, in digital patient files or personalized treatment approaches.

Munich Startup: What do you think could be improved in Munich as a start-up location?

Mareike Pfennig: I think Munich is already doing a lot of things right here! The only point I could mention here is the issue of “bureaucracy”. But that doesn’t just affect Munich, but the whole of Germany. It should be easier to found a company.

Munich Startup: Which founder would you like to meet in person? And what would you ask him or her?

Mareike Pfennig: There are two female founders from Germany that I find very inspiring: Dr. Kati Ernst and Verena Pausder. They both exude an enormous amount of power and passion and are not only committed to their business, but also to society. I always ask myself the question: “How do you manage to champion so many issues without losing your balance?”

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Helen Duran

Als Redakteurin ist die Wirtschaftsgeografin Helen Duran seit 2015 für Euch in der hiesigen Gründerszene unterwegs. Sie ist neugierig auf Eure spannenden Startup-Geschichten!

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