9 Questions for Nils Gründler, CEO, Nexolink Solutions AG



Tell us about something exceptional that really makes your company stand out.

The major levels of flexibility within the entire team. Everyone can depend on everyone else, and they are willing to adapt and do things such as take on other tasks if they need to. Everybody is always pitching in. And that’s really important in a team that’s still rather small – 15 people. Most startups change their business model once or twice before they become successful.

When was the moment you decided to create a company?

There was not a single moment. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do since I was in school. And since then, ideas have come and gone which I followed to different extents for various periods of time. At some point I realized I couldn’t just keep doing this on the side, and I gave up my full time job. These days I’m working full-time at my second startup.

What exactly is it that makes you the right kind of businessman?

It’s hard to say — no one ever really knows if they are really suited for the task. The one thing they know is whether they can muster up the will and courage to get something off the ground at some point. The rest just works itself out. No one ever starts a company alone; it’s always a job for multiple people.

Companies that are already well-established are afraid of disruptors: is this something you worry about too?

As a startup, you have to feature a certain amount of disruption or you aren’t serving your purpose. Our product is about improving how suppliers and clients work together so waste can be avoided. And it does so by means of a brand-new approach on the Internet of things. We aren’t directly squeezing anyone out of the way, so no one needs to feel threatened by us.

What would you suggest that a well-established company do to awaken a sense of innovative spirit?

It seems to me that there’s a very simple equation. Every company has exactly as much innovative spirit as its leadership demands and encourages. Period.

You can only achieve lasting motivation by creating a good working environment, offering people interesting work and being motivated yourself.

nils gründler, ceo, nexolink solutions ag

The startup scene grew from the ground up here.

nils gründler, ceo, nexolink solutions ag

Let’s imagine you were in charge of one of your client’s companies for one month. What changes would you make?

None. Within a month, you might be able to lower a few costs or modify some processes. But that doesn’t achieve anything worthwhile. Instead, my focus would be on a long-term strategy, and that’s not something you change sustainably within a mere month, and probably not even within a year.

What’s the biggest obstacle on the route towards the digital economy here in Germany?

There are several factors that play a part, but if I had to name only one, I’d say it’s courage. Companies lack the courage to work with startups and try new things. And investors lack the courage to finance big ideas. What’s more, some talented people also lack the courage to do something with their talent – although I would not in any way globally recommend that everyone should start a startup.

Do the poses you see in the digital economy get on your nerves sometimes? You know, the whole hipster beard and half-unbuttoned shirt thing?

This is not a pose we strike, and it’s also something I rarely see in the startups in our business environment. But if that’s what someone likes, it doesn’t bother me. And by the same token, I don’t care if someone wants to wear a suit. All of that is superficial. The situation gets tricky, though, when people sport a certain kind of attitude and top it off with arrogance. That bothers me a lot.

Let’s talk about creating a startup just to flip it. How serious do you think things really are on the German startup landscape?

The startup scene grew from the ground up here, and in the meantime it’s a genuine industry: its products are innovations and new business models. There is a lot of money at play and a lot of competition at stake, both among the startup folks and the investors. No one can afford to give anything away – time or money. Business is taken very seriously, even if people like to present a very casual face: the pressure is huge on both sides.

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