Increasing sales, more employees, conquering new markets and increasing profits – many founders are dreaming of this. But only a few manage to translate the wishes into reality. Two entrepreneurs who have successfully adopted the growth path are the Tyrolean Philipp Zimmermann and Richard Hirschhuber. The two developed the e-mobility service provider Greenstorm within a few years from the start-up to the largest growth company in Austria with 24 million euros turnover in 2018. Based on their experience, they give startups first-hand tips for growth.
Tip 1: Create clear conditions from the beginning
From the point of view of the Tyrolean business people, founders should already define clear responsibilities and competences in advance and not change anything afterwards. An essential dose of courage and willingness to take risks are absolutely essential; your own conviction that you have the right business idea is absolutely essential. “One should think twice about sharing the start-up plans with family and friends in advance. Often there are discussions that lead one off the path, “Hirschhuber points out. He advises to outsource administrative tasks to an experienced tax office at an early stage and hire the first good employees. “This costs money, but it helps to find investors and provides security for your own growth course,” says Hirschhuber.
Tip 2: Investors seek and convince
Their experience has shown the two Greenstorm executives that after about half a year of doing business, there comes a moment when, as a shareholder, there is not much time left for day-to-day operations because the focus is on raising fresh capital. In the case of Greenstorm, a crowd-investing campaign on the platform CONDA, in which a total of 1.2 million euros were invested in the spring of 2018, proved to be a guarantee of success. Shortly before the turn of the year, Greenstorm announced an investment in the double-digit million range of private equity firm Bregal Milestone – one of the largest investments in an Austrian start-up in 2018. Recently, the second round of funding brought another 420,000 euros from the Crowd. Zimmermann and Hirschhuber are sure that much depends on the idea and the business model: “We would not have been able to convince investors from the financial world with a shoebox.”
Tip 3: Separate work from private
A possible friendship between two or more business partners do not consider the Tyrolean as an important criterion for success, but even as an obstacle. “Professional and private are two pairs of shoes. Business decisions need an objective basis. It must be clear to everyone how decisions are made and when they have a veto, “says Zimmermann. The Greenstorm managing directors must know it, since all society participants are family connected. In order to ensure quick decisions, they recommend using simple majorities rather than unanimity in decision-making.
Tip 4: Plan as far as possible with foresight
Afterwards you are always cleverer – this saying should founder as often as possible with some time distance to their decisions must say. Hirschhuber and Zimmermann advise from their own experience that business developments should be reflected in entrepreneurial activity as early as possible. “We moved three times within two years, as we increased the number of employees to nearly 100 people and with the purchase of new e-bikes also more space was needed. That cost us strength, money and know-how. If we had been looking for something bigger from the beginning, we would be even further in our development, “Hirschhuber looks back. Nevertheless, Greenstorm ranked 59th in the Financial Times ranking of the top 1,000 fastest-growing companies in Europe in early March, making it the first-ranked company in Austria.
Tip 5: Hiring the right people
Qualified employees are an essential and sought-after capital for a company. The Greenstorm shareholders also see it that way and recommend hiring employees who have skills in those areas where the owners themselves do not necessarily locate their strengths. “You have to and can not get along perfectly with all the staff, but the base should always be such that you can at least have lunch together. If you can not smell someone, then he or she is the wrong person for the company, regardless of their or their qualities, “remark Hirschhuber and Zimmermann. And another tip for other founders: “To recover and clear your mind, you should take a one-hundred-week break one day a week and not talk to anyone about your own business that day.”
Greenstorm Mobility GmbH from Kufstein, Austria, provides its customers with e-bikes, electric cars and charging stations with an innovative rental concept. Greenstorm’s customers include hotels, businesses, and retailers in Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, and Slovenia. The hotel industry generates additional revenue through cooperation with Greenstorm and achieves higher capacity utilization. After the end of the rental period, the company waits for the used top e-bikes and offers them for sale. Here, Greenstorm has set itself the goal of becoming Europe’s largest dealer network for used top e-bikes. With this concept, Greenstorm addresses not only B2B customers such as hoteliers and sports retailers but also end customers.
Currently, the company employs almost 100 people. In 2017, it reached fourth place in the growth ranking of Austrian companies. In 2018, Greenstorm not only received the Tyrolean Innovation Award, but was also awarded the German Innovation Award. In addition, Greenstorm was one of the finalists in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition in the “Start-ups” category. Shortly before the turn of the year, Greenstorm secured a double-digit million investment from private equity firm Bregal Milestone. Internationally, the company is expanding and since 2018 has been active in Croatia and Slovenia alongside Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.