An interview with Dr. Martin Mittermeier, CEO of the Company Builder wattx

What do our members think about the German Mittelstand? What problems do they see? Where can the Maschinenraum help and which projects do they implement together with us?

interview | 01.07.2020

Dear Martin, could you please tell us something about yourself and wattx?

My name is Martin Mittermeier and I hold a PhD in law and a Master in Modern History. After my studies, however, I realized relatively quickly that I enjoy working in and with fast-growing companies more than practicing law. As a consequence, I worked for Project A among others. Before wattx I founded Kyto, a company that helps Mittelstand companies to generate additional sales leads abroad. So I was already within the Mittelstand-Ecosystem before I joined wattx in 2018. At wattx, we help Mittelstand companies to build ventures and new business models. In the past we were quite successful and launched several new companies with external funding from Capnamic Ventures or WestTech Ventures.

Why is the Mittelstand important for Germany?

Well, as you already know, the Mittelstand is the backbone of the German Economy. It can probably become one of the most important driving forces regarding the transformation of our economy into a digital one, given that mid-sized firms account for the largest share of our country’s economic output, employ about 60 percent of all workers, provide crucial training, and contribute significantly to corporate tax revenues in Germany.

Where do Mittelstand companies stand when it comes to innovation and digitalisation? What are their biggest challenges?

There is no general answer to this question. There are a lot of medium-sized companies that are already very far along the road to digitalisation, but do not put this in the foreground so much. At the same time, it must also be stated that it is not easy to transfer the analogue world into the digital world. For the urgently needed tech solutions, you need expertise in the area of software development. However, medium-sized companies usually do not have this expertise because, on the one hand, they are not located where the talents are and, on the other hand, they do not have the competence to build up and expand this area themselves. For this reason, many digital initiatives have been formed in the past, but they were not initiated by the medium-sized companies themselves, but are located in so-called corporate hubs. In all these initiatives, however, the real business impact, i.e. the added value for the actual core business, has often fallen by the wayside. In addition, in the emphasis on independence from the parent company, many advantages from a possible cooperation are sometimes wasted. Of course, certain inherited burdens are associated with the parent company and the processes are much more complex, strenuous and slow. At the same time, however, a possible cooperation also offers great advantages in terms of access to potential customers, expertise and know-how as well as trust in the market.

Why is the Maschinenraum so important? How can it help?

First and foremost, the Maschinenraum is simply a great platform on which to exchange ideas. The many exchange formats in the protected space make it easier to share knowledge, methods and resources that are so important for the transformation of the German Mittelstand. In addition, it is a unique platform in its focus on the Mittelstand only, which has not been available in this form anywhere else in Germany, yet. And last but not least, I am convinced that in the end, the Mittelstand can only be competitive by investing in digital solutions as drivers of their business. I think the Maschinenraum is a great place to exchange experiences and share best practices about this topic.

What project are you implementing in the Maschinenraum?

As Company Builder we validate and build digital products (execution). We help Mittelstand companies to extract certain products from business areas and make them future-proof. In this function we currently support a wide variety of projects and companies at the Maschinenraum. Our vision is to help as many companies as possible to drive their digital projects forward in such a way that they have a major impact on their core business.

The best thing about the Maschinenraum in one sentence?

The Maschinenraum is an incredibly beautiful place to work, collaborate and innovate; a place where you can meet interesting people and always have an inspiring exchange.

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