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Anette Bronder On the Need for Start-Ups in Germany


Feb 17, 2022

In today’s digital world, start-up businesses can thrive with relatively few resources and roadblocks. While some established businesses may see start-ups as threats, Anette Bronder explains how start-ups contribute to healthy innovation in the German digital technology sector, and why large businesses are relying on them to remain competitive.

Anette Bronder is a digital innovator with over two decades of experience in the technology and telecom sectors. She was named one of Germany’s top 100 influential women in business by Manager Magazine. She recently shared her thoughts on the potential of German start-ups with IT Production.

Below are some insights she shared during the interview.

A German Start-up Tradition

When you think of start-ups, you probably imagine a group of young people huddled around computers in a San Francisco loft. Silicon Valley has become synonymous with start-up success, but Anette Bronder reminds us that Germany also has a long history of successful start-ups. Businesses such as Daimler and Benz started as garage projects over a century ago. So what’s changed?

“In the past, technological transfer went from Europe to the USA,” explains Bronder. “There was fertile ground in Germany for tech growth and start-ups. But Silicon Valley reversed that trend.”

There are fewer start-up opportunities now in Germany compared to the past, but German companies and associations are working to promote the start-up culture again. Small start-ups bring innovative solutions to larger companies, and large companies provide stability and resources to start-ups. This symbiotic relationship breeds innovation, and Anette Bronder believes this will help German companies become more competitive in the digital space.

Is Germany Competitive in the Digital Technology Sector? Anette Bronder Says Yes.

Anette Bronder is confident that Germany is ready to take a crucial role in the development of digital technologies and services, especially in Europe.

“Germany has a top starting position in the digital race,” Bronder says. “We are an industrial nation and world export champion. We have the industrial know-how and more native engineers per square kilometer than the USA.”

Germany has a reputation for developing high-quality products and innovative solutions. German start-ups are continuing this tradition, but Bronder agrees that more could be done to support start-ups. That begins with understanding their value as partners.

“The best German start-ups have long been bought out of the market before companies here even realize the value of their technology. Established players often prefer to try it themselves, but they take too long. Even before the launch, the competition is already settled in the market.”

Anette Bronder also acknowledges that start-ups often make mistakes and even fail as part of the innovative process. She says failure is something that German business leaders must tolerate to benefit in the long term.

“Silicon Valley has many successful start-up stories, but there is also a widespread culture of failure and being allowed to fail. That is less pronounced in our society,” Anette Bronder says.

Anette Bronder on the Benefits of Working with Start-ups

According to Anette Bronder, start-ups bring the benefit of speed to slower-moving established businesses, and speed is a critical factor in the digital world.

“Small companies move from an idea to a final product much faster than large businesses, most of which are slowed down by process inertia or restricted by bureaucratic hurdles,” Bronder remarks.

Working with start-ups can result in the rapid development of strategy or even new products that would take much longer internally.

Another major benefit of start-ups is their agility. Small companies have an increased willingness to take risks, allowing them to gain new insights, process information faster, and maintain a competitive edge. Established companies, on the other hand, work according to rigid rules and regulations.

Bronder explains:

“Established processes provide the safety of quantifiable operations, but they do not leave room for the outside-the-box thinking needed to adapt to the tempo of the digital world. If you want to conquer digital terrain, you have to be agile. You must be able to quickly adapt to the demands of the market in the way you work, the way you think, and the way you implement.”

Anette Bronder’s Experience Collaborating with Small Start-ups

During Bronder’s history of managing major telecom and tech firms, she initiated a shift in digital competitive strategy that is more aligned with the fast-moving world of Silicon Valley. To do that, she partnered with various start-ups and small companies and benefited from their expertise.

“A few years ago, I decided to stop investing a lot of time and effort in developing solutions that other companies already have,” Bronder explains. “Now, I build partnerships with small or large leading IT players. These do not necessarily have to be start-ups. Sometimes, I also team up with clients to develop digital solutions for specific industries and needs. Everyone contributes what they do best.”

This spirit of collaboration provides the flexibility needed to keep up with the digital world and implement novel solutions fast. Start-ups also bring specified expertise from day one and often have a thorough understanding of markets that would otherwise cost time and resources to acquire.

“Start-ups are particularly attractive partners because they already have a foot in the market when we ‘big players’ are still channeling concepts through purchasing or the legal sector. Also, they often have industry expertise—the so-called vertical know-how that we IT providers often lack,” Anette Bronder explains.

How Start-ups Benefit from Collaborating with Large Companies

Anette Bronder acknowledges that the clear benefit for start-ups is monetary. Financially, start-ups need the backing that large companies can easily provide. Without it, they won’t be able to persevere in markets that often take time to develop and become profitable.

“Start-ups are like speedboats,” Bronder says. “They are agile and fast but don’t have the perseverance of a cruise ship. They are dependent on investors to keep their tank from running dry.”

Aside from funding, large businesses also offer insight that comes from experience, which most start-ups don’t have. This insight can help start-ups avoid costly mistakes.

“Our start-up speedboats are also more vulnerable to rough seas,” Bronder continues. “Here, it helps to have an expert with years of market experience at your side who can immediately recognize the first signs of a storm.”

There are several other ancillary benefits large businesses can offer to start-ups, such as access to a broader customer base, IT infrastructure, physical office space, and more.

It’s important that business leaders don’t hold back resources from their start-up partners. If a large business decides to collaborate with a start-up, it should provide the resources needed for success.

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