Stephan Schambach, in the late 90s, was something like the German Mark Zuckerberg, founding Intershop in 1995 and Demandware in 2004. He is now a business angel and active German start-up scene participant championing the establishment of a ‘German NASDAQ’. Friday afternoon, during our mentoring session, we had a quick chat with Stephan about the German start-up ecosystem and its prospects.
Which B2B topics are you currently interested in as a business angel and entrepreneur?
I love B2B cloud models. There are still many applications that are yet to be invented or that are currently failing and are to be replaced by better versions. I believe it is a great market for both entrepreneurs and investors.
How do you see the future of Berlin when it comes to venture capital investment?
I think that Berlin is on a track to attract large venture capital. No-one wants to be first, but surely it is going to happen. What we need for this, more than anything else, is a domestic technology stock market, much like NASDAQ in the US. There was one called “Neuer Markt” back in the late 90’s, but it was closed in 2002 and Deutsche Börse is now thinking of restoring it. There is, also, a lot of lobby effort from many people – politicians, investors, others – to re-establish a “Neuer Markt”-like technology segment-focused stock exchange. And if that happens, the investors will come. I can tell that because in the late 90’s and early 2000’s there were around 70 VC offices in Germany with their main offices and headquarters being in the US, Israel or the UK. So under the right circumstances, they will come back.
And what would be needed from the government for this to happen?
I think that what we need from the government is a venture capital bill to be cut out. It has been “stuck” for 2 or 3 years on the EU level, but without this package – without this bill – it is very difficult from the tax and also regulatory perspective for institutions of venture capital to function properly in Germany. Germany, actually, might be the most difficult country in Europe for venture capital companies to establish and operate, in particular due to several tax restrictions that are harming this sector.
How will the minimum wage affect start-up business creation?
I don’t think it is going to affect it at all. People might sometimes want to experience start-ups and then be told they cannot do that because they won’t get paid. That would be unfortunate… Nevertheless, I don’t think it is going to be a major problem.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Stephan!