Marie-Helene Ametsreiter: The customer’s voice

After almost two decades in corporate environments, Speedinvest partner Marie-Helene Ametsreiter has carved out her own role in the firm and helps startups understand their users.

On paper, Marie-Helene Ametsreiter might be the most corporate person at Speedinvest. But in person, she’s far from that and makes it very clear: “I’ve always built new businesses.” During her studies in the 90s, she focused on the telecommunications industry and landed her first job at Mobilkom Austria (later A1). Long before we all owned an iPhone or Android, Marie-Helene was involved in establishing mobile networks in Austria and Eastern Europe. “I’ve always felt like a founder“, she recalls her corporate experience which was full of diverse roles.

Despite almost two decades in managing positions, Marie-Helene admits that joining Speedinvest was a bit of a challenge: “The first weeks were tough, I sort of had to find my own role.“ Eventually she realized which of her strong points would be valuable to the young firm. Creating a marketing strategy for Speedinvest, Marie-Helene is responsible for turning the venture capital company into a brand and even household name in the European startup ecosystem. As investment manager, she further advises portfolio startups like Greetzly and Wikifolio.

“I like to see products from a customer’s point of view”, Marie-Helene says of her approach. She is convinced that if people don’t understand what a startup is selling, it won’t be successful: “You have to question things with a certain naivete.” According to the marketing expert, you have to be able to explain your product with only one sentence. After all, behind all the data are real people.

Aside from challenging startup founders with her curious questions, Marie-Helene’s corporate experience has come in handy at Speedstartupstudio. Understanding corporate structures and needs, she supports the incubator building new companies and maintaining relationships with corporations and partners. Starting 2016, Marie-Helene will run Speedinvest’s first German office in Munich, further establishing connections with the startup community and other investors.

Having been with Speedinvest for more then a year now, her biggest learning is one that she would probably never have had in a corporate environment: “What was new to me is that revenue doesn’t matter all that much. For a lot of startups in this early phase, having a unique technology or a strong, growing customer base is as important.“

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