Why I Founded Hartmann Ventures

I founded my first own company Hartmann Ventures GmbH in 02/2019 because I am convinced this is how I can have the biggest impact to help Switzerland build the best startups in Europe.

But let me outline how I came to the above conclusion, how I want to make that impact and where I see this going.

Past
Entrepreneurship fascinated me since working for Tesla back in 2012 when it was still selling Roadsters, had 2.000 employees and its stock price was $20. I did a Master in Business Innovation to learn more about technology, entrepreneurship and business model innovation. Before graduating, I asked myself if I want to launch my venture right away, support entrepreneurs by working for a Venture Capitalist or an accelerator or “go to school again” while earning money also known as consulting.

I wanted to work for Accenture for to solve business problems by applying innovative technology. Accenture felt likewise, and I ended up working in the fields of Salesforce.com and business model innovation projects for 3,5 years.

In 2017, I was ready to take the leap to join a tech startup as “the business guy” and ended up building the Onedot brand and the B2B sales organization together with the Founder & CEO of the company. After this “Master in Entrepreneurship”, I figured that I could have done a lot of things smarter, quicker, and with less pain along the way.

At this point I intensified the discussions with technical founders from ETH and EPFL if I was the only guy who took so long to figure out how to gain traction quickly with a technical startup. It turned out I am by far not.

What struck me as bizarre and impairing for Swiss entrepreneurship was the discovery that there are few great sales people available in our country. I find it outrageous that I spent 5 years in business school and learn basically 0 about sales. This needs to change.

Present
This and my ambition to found a company was the trigger to found Hartmann Ventures. The company mission is to help entrepreneurs gain market traction quicker and enable them to not only build great products but also great companies. I want to achieve this by offering “Sales for Startups”: Entrepreneurial, operational sales support that is flexible, affordable and no bullshit.

Market feedback so far is positive as this solves a real-world problem that apparently few other companies and people tackle even if it is crucial to get sales right for a startup. I enjoy this opportunity to have a high-leverage impact by offering my entrepreneurial B2B sales ability to founders who are way smarter than me and even earn money with that. People often ask how many people “we” are at Hartmann Ventures and if we are a VC fund. The answer today is 1 (me) and no.

If the business continues to develop well, I see 4 options to increase my positive impact for Swiss entrepreneurship:

  1. Work more: Increase my personal workload from 60 to 80–100 hours per week. As I am not Elon Musk, this option is neither appealing nor scalable nor sustainable.
  2. Hire people: The classic path to build a company. But, in this specific case complicated by 2 issues: First, it is hard to find great sales people who want and can build a company. Second, I can but not fond of managing a team.
  3. Build and offer a valuable network: A lot of great companies out there offer entrepreneurial support for recruiting, digital marketing, software engineering, funding, legal, accounting and many more capabilities.
  4. Put my brain into the cloud: No business I know manages to get all colleagues to reach the same understanding on their ideal customer, how they do sales and why the business even exists. CRMs are great to manage leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities and many other things. But I know none of them offering a “Sales Playbook”. This playbook exists in my head and I want to make it accessible in a flexible, affordable, no bullshit model to as many entrepreneurs as possible.

Future
So which of the 4 paths above will I take? To keep it short since predictions are difficult, especially about the future:

  1. Temporarily if required. To get things done in case of a lot of demand for which I committed supply
  2. Potentially. If I meet awesome people with the same mindset that take the company to the next level.
  3. Yes, Q2/Q3 2019. I am building up a “Services for Startups” network and keep you posted.
  4. Yes, Q4 2019/Q1 2020. Parts of my sales brain currently lives in 15+ Google Sheet tabs with proven sales frameworks and methodologies which I am using with my clients. The goal is to use this base to build a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) application so entrepreneurs can benefit even more flexible and affordable from state-of-the-art sales know-how.

Thanks for reading. Please comment or directly reach out to me and share your thoughts on what needs to happen so Switzerland will in 2020 not only rank for the 10th time in a row as the world’s most innovative country, but also builds Europe’s best startups. Thanks!

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Founder SalesPlaybook, Switzerland's Sales Accelerator for B2B entrepreneurs to grow revenues by 100-400% per year.

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Manuel Hartmann

Manuel Hartmann

Founder SalesPlaybook, Switzerland's Sales Accelerator for B2B entrepreneurs to grow revenues by 100-400% per year.

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