Job Title: Senior Venture Development Manager
Name: Konstantin Kugler
Education: Master of Science in Management, University of Mannheim
What do you do?
Since October 2017, I have been part of the venture development team at Travel-Tech Startup Fineway in Munich. Together with this team, I help the two founders to develop Fineway and work very closely with them.
Each of us Venture Developers has a specific area of responsibility, depending on their strength profile and prior experience. Personally, over the last year and a half, for example, my focus has been on conceptually defining and building our tech platform. This means concretizing ideas on the whiteboard in numerous sessions with colleagues, structuring projects into small work packages and coordinating business requirements with our R & D team.
It also includes selecting external technology providers and implementing their solutions through to go-live. My projects are always cross-functional, which gives me the opportunity to work with colleagues from all fields. This gave me a very valuable overall understanding of our business and learned a great deal about the different teams. Of course, that helps me a lot with new projects.
In addition, I am responsible for our internal strategy and planning process. Like many other startups, we use this for u.a. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to focus the company and the teams quarterly on the next milestones.
How did you come to this task?
I worked for several years in management consulting, where I helped to shape and implement strategic decisions in companies from different industries. After my consulting time, I felt the need to build a product idea myself and take more operational responsibility.
At this time, Fineway had the opportunity to help shape the young company together with the founders – so to speak as a sparring partner – in its fundamentals. In particular, I was fascinated by the vision of Fineway and the technological focus. This is still one of the main motivation points for me today.
Which feature helps you the most in your everyday life? Why?
In general, one is well advised with a good dose of composure and stress resistance. In a young company, a lot happens at once, and above all very quickly. Keeping track of this, taking a step back and prioritizing correctly, helps a lot. Not just me, but the whole team. Important decisions are best made with a cool head.
Above all, the productive handling of stress has its roots in my previous activity as a consultant. I am still profiting from this time today as I have trained in structured and analytical work there. This ability helps me tremendously when it comes to solving more complex problems.
Describe as clearly as possible a project that has particularly impressed you
We are currently redesigning the UX (User Experience) of our “Travelbot conversation,” which translates customer preferences into the best possible first travel proposal. Of course, there are several dimensions of relevance that need to be reconciled.
From the hierarchy and dynamics of the conversation, to the number and decidability, to the creativity and structure of the questions. It is always important to translate the conversation into data points in real time on our data science platform using different machine learning algorithms. Therefore, in addition to product managers (tourist product) and sales staff (tourist customer service), this project also particularly involves colleagues from the data science and the data engineering team (engineering product).
What is most important to you in your job? What is the most fun?
I find it immensely rewarding to be involved in the digitization of the tourism industry and to play my part in bringing new technological opportunities into more and more areas of application. It always inspires me and makes it fun every day. The direct exchange with the management team and the high level of individual responsibility for projects also play a major role. That motivates me to really bring projects forward.
At the same time, I am also an interface for the various teams and thus gain insights into almost all areas of the company, which makes my field of activity so diverse and exciting.
My job is indispensable because …
… the number and complexity of new projects in a startup is rapidly increasing in a relatively short time. Especially with an ambitious vision like that of Fineway, it is therefore essential to build up resources and competences in the company that can be structured with a high degree of dynamism in the company structure and be result-oriented.
Given the multitude of topics that develop in parallel, it is absolutely crucial for success to keep track of things and to work in a focused way. That is why it is so important to communicate OKRs and project goals clearly and repeatedly in order to align all colleagues with the strategic objectives.
In addition, as a sparring partner for the managing directors, I can contribute my own ideas, but also question other ideas and present my view of things. At any speed, sometimes it’s very important not to make rash decisions that later turn out to be less than optimal.
If you were not a Senior Venture Development Manager, what would you be?
Presumably, I would have ended up on the investor side in venture capital (VC) or private equity (PE). Here, the way of thinking and working is also very entrepreneurial and versatile. You do not build a company directly, but you get to know a lot of interesting entrepreneurial personalities and innovative business models, which is also very exciting in the long term.
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