Home to red-hot startups and several unicorns – private companies valued at $1 billion or more – Berlin is consistently ranked as one of the best European cities for entrepreneurship. Among those flocking to the German capital are HEC Paris MBA students, who recently spent two days discovering what the city’s startup buzz is all about.
The Berlin Trek, organized jointly by the MBA’s Entrepreneurship and Tech Clubs, gave the 12 participants a deeper understanding of the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The group visited four startups, the venture capital firm High-Tech Gründerfonds, and APX, the accelerator of Axel Springer and Porsche. At each stop, the students met with CEOs and other senior strategists, gaining an up-close and personal view of companies at different stages of growth.
“It was all great,” says Katharina Lunenberg, who organized the trek as President of the MBA’s Entrepreneurship Club. “At Casper, we had a private meeting with one of their engineers, then worked on a case study to launch a new product into France. At Delivery Hero, we learned about their recent IPO.” That IPO gave the company a market value of approximately 4.4 billion euros.
At APX, the MBA students weighed in on three startups pitching to enter the accelerator. “They were really relatable, because they were all pre-seed,” Katharina explains.
Entrepreneurship Specialization at the HEC Paris MBA
During the MBA Entrepreneurship Specialization, students gain the hard and soft skills necessary for founding a successful startup. In this set of Customized Phase courses led by Affiliate Professor Michel Safars, teams of 4 or 5 students collaborate with scientists from the Paris-Saclay Innovation Cluster to bring their inventions to market. For two intensive months, participants work with mentors to commercialize these scientists' inventions, learning firsthand what it takes to lead a project from inception to business-plan completion. The Specialization culminates with a pitch competition in front of a jury of CEOs, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurial experts, who provide the students valuable feedback on the marketability of their ideas.