Michael founded his first startup before even knowing what a startup was. 16 years later, he shares his wisdom with young entrepreneurs and big corporations.
His colleagues charmingly refer to him as Mr. Startup, but Michael Breidenbrücker didn’t even know he founded a startup when he launched Last.fm in 2000: “They didn’t call it startup back then.” Michael grew up in Vorarlberg and moved to London for his studies in 1998. He recognized the need for a platform that helps to find the right music at the right time. Long before MySpace, iTunes and Spotify, Last.fm was born – a music streaming service which kick-started the music recommendation space and was a main player in the web2.0 movement. Last.fm was sold to CBS in 2007 but Michael insists that he didn’t set out to be a CEO, but eventually ended up in that position from 2002 until 2005.
“As startup CEO, you’re basically the janitor. You’re doing everything”, the early founder says now. He refuses to romanticize the business of startups, and that is what Michael brings to the table at Speedinvest. Oliver Holle approached Michael, who also founded another music startup called RJDJ and more recently turned to angel-investing. In 2011, the serial entrepreneur decided to join the VC firm’s Investment commitee and in 2014 he joined as a partner: “We realized that we were working on the same things, so we decided to join forces”, Michael recalls.
Having been through the highs and lows of building a company more than once, “Mr. Startup” is sharing his experiences as entrepreneur with young founder teams. Growth Hacking, Product development, Team building and management are Michaels areas of expertise Ultimatively e’s helping to build products and turn them into successful businesses.
Besides his investments and work with portfolio companies, Michael’s other responsibility at Speedinvest is to run Speedstartstudio, a so-called excubator. At Speedstartstudio, the VC works together with corporates to build startups and new products from scratch. “In the past, corporates were perceived as exit partners. But more recently, a lot of them are turning into sparring partners“, the head of Speedstartstudio explains. “We are seeing a lot of non digital markets opening up to the digitalisation and if we want to have a presence in these new digital markets we need industry specific know-how which we can only get in collaboration with corporates” Michael insists that startup is the perfect management method to conquer new markets fast.
For Michael, having a startup is not a job, “it’s a lifestyle“. Thus, he doesn’t see himself as a classic investor or Venture Capitalist. Almost 16 years after founding his first company, Michael still can very much relate to the struggles of young founders while also understanding the demands of corporations.