During the fifth online speaker event as part of Munich Business School’s 30th anniversary in mid-October, the two MBS alumni Patrick Löffler and Rupert Schäfer gave an insight into their careers as founders, which began in their second year at MBS – at that time still eba – with a joint project. They also shared their learnings from the student days, which are still valuable tips for the current MBS students today – almost 20 years after graduation.
“We studied together for four years, rarely agreed on anything, but somehow always ended up in joint groups for projects,” recalled Patrick Löffler of his time studying together with Rupert Schäfer. The differing opinions between the two alumni can still be felt today, twenty years later – but without the conversation losing any of its harmony, far from it. “Often, after all, these are precisely the interesting encounters,” added Patrick Löffler. Rupert Schäfer continued: “Patrick and I share the same values, which is an important and solid basis. So it doesn’t matter that we don’t always agree.”
Patrick Löffler and Rupert Schäfer are founders to the core. Neither would like to return to their long corporate careers in the packaging and publishing industries. Of course, a certain mentality is needed for founding and self-employment, but if you don’t try it out, you will never know if it is the right thing for you – was the first advice of the MBS alumni to the current students. “My studies at MBS and founding my own company were the most important milestones in my life,” Patrick admitted. In fact, no one at Munich Business School was surprised, explained Alumni Relations Manager Martina Dengler, who moderated the online talk as part of the university’s 30th anniversary on October 11, when it came to light in 2011 that the two alumni had started their own businesses with The Nunatak Group, a strategy consultancy in the digitalization sector (Rupert Schäfer) and givve, a fintech company for benefit solutions (Patrick Löffler).
Patrick and Rupert took their first steps in the world of founders at MBS. As part of a start-up project, the two developed a Octoberfest songbook during their second year of studies. “We were very convinced of our idea – too convinced, in fact, so that we received negative feedback during the presentation,” Patrick looked back. Therefore, the second tip: Show passion and be enthusiastic – instead of cool and hardened – when you present your business idea or prototypes to a jury or possible investors! And what else is needed for a successful start-up? During the conversation, the two founders came up with a whole host of factors – to be driven to change something, a functioning team, consistency, luck – but their views also diverged in part: while Patrick does not attach such great importance to the actual idea and the market analysis, Rupert believes that you should at least have an abstract understanding of how the market is and where it could develop in order to tailor the idea as precisely as possible.
When it came to networking, the two alumni agreed again, and Rupert formulated another piece of advice for the students: “Work steadily on your network, but also dare to say ‘no.'” In the past, he said, he didn’t always do that consistently, although it’s often the first few minutes that tell you whether you’re warming to a person. “The next step after networking is then knowing when to leverage the network.” “Absolutely,” Patrick agreed. “For example, Rupert was one of the chairmen in the early days of givve and helped us find our first investor!”
However, that networking can deliver much more than business successes became just as clear on this evening with the MBS alumni – namely, creating and growing long-standing friendships.