Dr. Martin Schilling


As an angel investor, startup builder and scale-up executive, I believe entrepreneurship is one of the most effective ways to be a force for good. In the past 15 years, I have co-created and scaled up five companies, including a subsidiary for McKinsey & Company and the FinTech N26. Turning tech startups into unicorns is my passion. As a serial entrepreneur, former McKinsey consultant and former COO of the FinTech N26, I believe we not only need more late-stage venture capital but more skills and knowledge to turn more startups into scale-ups.

At the beginning of our journey to develop N26, we felt like we were working on a pirate ship. All it took to change course was to climb the pole and adjust the sails. However, once we achieved product-market fit, it was essential to upgrade our band of pirates into a spaceship crew. That means still being as quick and agile as pirates, but focusing increasingly on expertise, streamlined processes and better structures. If you fail to add spaceship capabilities fast enough, your scale-up can quickly spiral out of control, making survival all the more of a challenge.

At N26 we had to learn many of these lessons the hard way, as we hadn’t upgraded a startup before. This is why I believe the Builder’s Guide will be of tremendous help of all aspiring scale-ups builders. If we’d been able to rely on a guide like this, it would have saved us at least 6-9 months of painful trial and error, and we could have turned our company into a unicorn (and beyond) even faster.