When start-ups grow up

Max Wittrock has achieved what many people only dream of. In around 11 years he has turned his start-up into an established medium-sized company: mymuesli offers custom-created organic muesli. One of three company founders, he believes that digitalisation offers enormous potential for new business models. The managing director speaks about strategies for success and the courage for reinvention.

Max Wittrock on…

…Germany’s Mittelstand: “We are pleased to be part of the German Mittelstand and are proud to wear this label internationally as well. But we find it just as important to retain our original start-up flair. In established companies, monotony frequently creeps in after a while. We believe in continuous change and having the courage to try out new things so that the principle of innovation on which our company is based remains in place.”

…error culture: “In many corporations mistakes may be accepted, but the underlying problem is not resolved. That is how mistakes come to be repeated. We believe that tolerance is essential, but each individual’s learning process should not be neglected. When something goes wrong, we ask: what can we do to ensure it doesn't happen again?”

…diversity: “Creative people of different backgrounds, age groups and gender are the driving force behind the degree of innovation within a company. At mymuesli, it is these different experiences, life plans and models that have a positive effect on the company in exchanges between employees. By contrast, the “Grey Gentlemen” featured in Michael Ende’s famous novel “Momo” are a relic of the past and more likely to inhibit progress than drive it forward.

…digital business models: “It's not just bits and bytes that people get enthusiastic about. When you produce something that is tangible and tastes good, you wake up each morning knowing why you are working for your company. I can recommend to everyone who would like to start up a company themselves: do something tangible. In most cases, it’s a lot more enjoyable.”

…trends: “You need a good gut feeling about how the market works. We don't look too closely at what could potentially happen in the next few years, but monitor the sector internationally for changes. One advantage of being a medium-sized company is agility – unlike huge corporations, we can react quickly to new developments.”

…internationalisation: “Anyone who thinks all you need to do is translate a website into English would be mistaken. Language barriers can be overcome quickly, but to be successful abroad, you need to adapt to the respective culture. It’s a chance to completely reinvent yourself as a company. If you combine the new concept with the core virtues that ensure success in your own country, then anything is possible outside Germany.”

… on Germany as a location for start-ups: “Germany is a great place to start a company. There are many basic requirements that make it easier for companies to do things their own way and yet enjoy a great deal of security and structure. Of course, some things could be improved, but if politics and business cooperate closely, we can take Germany even further.”