Uwe Horstmann is truly one of the big names of the German startup scene who was involved in the meteoric rise of digital entrepreneurship in Europe’ largest economy early on. He was a senior manager at well-known company builder Rocket Internet since its start in 2007. Being involved in Rocket Internet’s operations early on exposed him to successful ventures like Zalando or MyCityDeal/Groupon and gave him a ‘fast-track education’ on every aspect of digital entrepreneurship. From 2009 to 2012, he served as Rocket’s Managing Director, focusing primarily on international rollouts.
In 2012, Uwe went on to found Project A Ventures, an operational VC firm that invests in tech startups in Europe and around the world. Based in Berlin and Sao Paulo, Project A Ventures has assets under management with a total value of 260m€. With a focus on digital technologies, the VC has invested into more than 45 startups, including companies like Catawiki, Tictail and ZenMate. In addition to financial assistance, its team of 100 experts also support its portfolio companies operationally with e.g. software development, performance marketing and business intelligence. In his function as a Partner, Uwe Horstmann is mainly responsible for dealflow, product and IT.
Being engaged in the support of NGOs like Oxfam and working on his PhD thesis in Entrepreneurship, he is also actively sharing his knowledge outside his daily work – with a special focus on the economic development in Africa and researching what it is that makes successful entrepreneurs being successful. In 2016, Uwe Horstmann was named to Forbes’ Europe ’30 Under 30’ list.
In this episode, Uwe Horstmann talks about how his career evolved, his work as an operational VC, key qualities of successful founders, the competitive edge a company can gain through ’hyper learning mode’ and why luck is an essential part of startup success.