In one of our Founders Talks, we questioned Christian Hülsewig, Founder and CEO of Schüttflix, about the challenges of digitalizing a traditional market segment. We were also able to gain some insights into the success story of the Gütersloh startup. You don’t know Schüttflix yet? This starup is currently revolutionizing the construction industry with its price comparison site for bulk cargo and the attached transportation system. So far, they were able to win over large investors like Thomas Hagedorn, Speedinvest and Holtzbrinck Ventures. Schüttflix testimonial Sophia Thomalla is also one of the company’s shareholders.
Below are the most important learnings from the talk between Christian and our Head of Hinterland Simon; in their conversation, they were mostly focusing on how to embody company culture.
1. A Platform Can Be the Perfect Starting Point to Revolutionize a Traditional Market
Let’s be honest, “revolutionize” is a very drastic term . Basically, it is about smartly adapting one concept in another context. According to Christian, it is simply about taking something that already exists in other areas and adapting it to another area where such a thing has not existed before. That’s what Schüttflix did – using the classic digital platform model and introducing it in the construction industry. Simple as that.
If you are building a platform, make it as user-friendly as possible. Take care that you understand the basics of your business before going live with your platform.
2. The Most Important Metric Is the Growth of Your Platform
The decisive metric when building a platform is, as Christian explains, the solvency of your platform itself because platform economy is fueled by the solvency of the market. This creates a network effect that in turn strengthens your platofrm. What you need is mass. This is the most important KPI: growth, growth, growth.
3. Competition Is Good for Your Business
Don’t be concerned about competitors in your sector. Competition will strengthen your commitment to your business. So, don’t be shy about entering a segment that already is home to other players. Also, don’t be nervous when suddenly competitors show up in the segment you’ve been the sole player in. But you should be aware that you need to be different, and especially better, if you want to win the race.
4. Keep Your Portfolio Simple
Your product portfolio should be as simple as possible, according to Christian. That way, you can avoid long-term problems. Take care to keep your portfolio concise and ensure that your product remains available for a long time. Calculate the value chain into your considerations and start with a simple product.
Take Amazon as an example: The company started by solely selling books before it expanded its portfolio exponentially. Now, it’s the global leader in its sector. Presumably, this wouldn’t have worked if Amazon had started with the complete range of products it is offering nowadays.
Schüttflix’s portfolio was initially scoffed at as well. But it has made Christian and his team the “digital” top dogs in a otherwise very traditionally minded market.
5. When Handling the Onboarding of New Team Members, Personal Contact Is Key for Communicating the Company Vision
Especially in the growth stage of your team, personal contact is more important than ever. Especially, when new team members are starting out in your team. The onboarding should consequently always be done in person, as Christian explains. Only when you interact personally with your new team members, you will get to know them as persons. Otherwise, you won’t be able to convey culture, identity, and a shared vision.
Help new team members to quickly integrate into the team, even outside of work. It’s important to give them a home in your team. That way, they will automatically be more productive and you will have am easier time to inspire them for your shared mission and the company vision.
6. Financial Rewards Do Not Create a Healthy Company Culture
According to Christian, you can throw as much money as you want, and as much as your company purse allows, at your employees but that will not guarantee a healthy company culture. If there is no shared sense of mission and no shared vision among your team members, there will be no shared culture, no matter how high the financial rewards.
7. Create a Work Environment That Fits Your Team
In general, your team members should not live purely for job reasons in a location that they otherwise have no connection with. Help your employees after the onboarding phase to work in their role exactly at that place where they also want to live. Schüttflix, for example, instituted fixed work days where the whole team met on-site.
There is another advantage to this strategy: If most of the team members travel to that particular location for fixed work days, they often have no private commitments after work. That way, the team can unwind together after work is done much more often – team bonding happens automatically.
Ready to revolutionize the market with your idea?
You want to digitalize a traditional corner of the market with your business idea – just like Christian and his Schüttflix team? Then join us in the Startup School and lay the foundation for your very own startup!