Start-up Consultant with a passion for stock investing and founder of Wall St. Nerd.

From the financial sector via PricewaterhouseCoopers to the start-up scene and my own side hustle. But how I became a start-up consultant and much more, I will tell you in this article.

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What is a Start-up Consultant?

For almost every start-up, it makes sense to bring in external expertise and perhaps operational support from consultants to build up their business.

A start-up consultant will support you in setting up your business. Both before and after the start-up, he or she is available to answer almost any questions you may have on the subject of starting a business. A start-up advisor ideally has start-up experience himself and thus knows your perspective and the tasks that await you in the context of a start-up.

With a start-up consultant, you increase the chances of a successful business, because you receive competent support right from the start and answer to questions such as the choice of legal form, the financing of a start-up, the choice of bank, etc. In doing so, the start-up consultant must demonstrate flexible thinking and knowledge, because every industry is different and every start-up is a unique challenge. In addition to experience, the start-up consultant is characterised by a high level of motivation, entrepreneurial thinking, farsightedness, the setting and realisation of goals, as well as business management expertise. He not only helps you to work out your business idea, but also to draw up a business plan. He knows the relevant funding programmes and advises you on setting up the organisation and structure within your company.

Of course, a start-up consultant also has a large network to open doors for his clients. He knows service providers who can support the founders in the areas of marketing and sales, for instance. He has the best contacts to local decision-makers such as the Chamber of Commerce or business angels. In addition, he is prepared to use this network for his clients if needed.

Moreover, a good start-up consultant can put himself in your shoes. He understands your personal concerns and makes your start-up project his own. He helps you avoid technical mistakes, gives you confidence where necessary, slows you down when necessary and accompanies you beyond the actual consulting project.

How did I become a Start-up Consultant and Why?

That is a very interesting question, which I would like to answer in detail. It was more or less by chance that I ended up in the start-up scene. Although I have always been interested in the topic, the opportunity never really arose, let alone to found my own start-up. I had my first contact with start-ups during my studies in the Netherlands, but it was sporadic. My focus was more on the banking and audit sector, where I also worked as a consultant after my studies. After working at pwc for 2 years, I was looking for a new challenge. I also wanted to make my knowledge and experience from the financial sector available to young entrepreneurs, so it was obvious to move into the start-up scene.

I did not have to look far, as an initiative was launched in my region to create an infrastructure for start-ups to grow and flourish. Furthermore, the initiative was looking for an experienced person with a background in the financial sector who is motivated to help start-ups with their venture. Therefore, I applied for the job and became a Start-up Consultant.

My tasks – How I help Start-ups

I see myself more as the definition of the consultant as I described it in the first section. I see myself as part of the founding team and act accordingly. In this moment, as I am writing this article, I am accompanying 10 start-ups in their founding project or in the development of an MVP. Each team has a different business model, but they always encounter the same obstacles or problems, such as start-up funding, how to test the product on potential customers, how to find the first customers, and many more.

This means that as a start-up consultant I have to act in an entrepreneurial way. I have to see the successful company of the start-up as an 'embryo', so to speak, and think about how all departments will later work together. A pronounced pragmatism in culture and structure development is valuable here. In order to identify and regulate frictions, an organisational structure on 3 pages is helpful, not on 30 or 300 pages with a manual.

Start-ups need a sympathetic ear and someone who can look at the big picture from the outside. With start-ups, the bottlenecks are rarely the special analysis and the extremely differentiated concept. Far more often it is a question of linking expertise and intuition, i.e. tracking down the blind spots in the founders' self-perception and identifying the 'holes' in the envisaged system. As a good start-up consultant, I make sure that something changes in the company I advise, that measures be implemented quickly. The second-best solution that is implemented is better than a brilliant draft that ends up in a drawer.

The bottom line is that I am not just a start-up consultant, but a partner as well as a friend who wants to help the founders and guide them in the right direction so that they and their company become successful.

My favourite topics

Now let us move on to my favourite topics, which I deal with intensively, and which are fun to explore. I will explain three topics in a little more detail:

Start-up financing

Every start-up deals with the question of financing. Costs for the foundation, premises, staff and equipment are usually incurred from day one. To cover these financing needs, start-ups can take various paths.

There are many financing options for start-ups and I will only briefly touch on the ones I encounter in everyday life. First and foremost, founders start with the bootstrapping method. Those who "bootstrap" do not take advantage of start-up financing from any external source, but finance the company entirely from their own funds and, above all, their own sales.

The next financing option is Family, Friends & Fools. Statistically, the three Fs, i.e. the money from the proverbial rich aunt, the good friend or the risk-taking acquaintance you managed to convince, make up the largest share of early start-up financing. These capital transfers can take many different forms. Common forms include private loans, classic or silent partnerships (without a say in the company, which makes sense in many cases). The following applies: Even or especially within the family and circle of friends, contracts should be drawn up with clear conditions for both sides. Otherwise, relationships can potentially suffer.

Then there is classical funding, which includes a whole range of state or institutionally supported financing. Roughly speaking, these are subsidised loans, guarantees and grants.

In addition, the last variant, which I encounter almost daily and which also offers a personal exchange, is the business angel. Business angel investment is not a form of financing per se. It can take several forms (e.g. also sweat capital or convertible loans). Very often, however, it is a classic equity investment. The investor acquires shares in the start-up in exchange for money and thus becomes a shareholder. The capital becomes part of the company's assets. If the start-up fails, the money is gone. It therefore falls under the term venture capital. A business angel usually invests in very early or early company phases (pre-seed and seed investments). He usually not only provides money, but also expertise. They contribute their experience to advance the start-up.

Strategical Marketing

This is a special and also individual topic. Strategical marketing, in contrast to operational marketing, characterises the long-term oriented marketing concept of a company. Marketing goals must be defined and a marketing strategy developed in order to achieve these goals.

Well-defined marketing goals indirectly ensure more sales, thus more turnover and, in the end, more profit - because the definition of goals requires dealing with one's company and to controlling it. If that is not promising!

In addition, exactly here lies the core of a widespread problem that some founders deal with to a greater or lesser extent. They deal very intensively with the product and the idea, but not with the company itself. It is very important to deal with the company's goals and structure, and that is exactly what I teach the founders in personal conversations and in close cooperation.

MVP Development

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, the theory emerged at the same time as the Lean Start-up Method, and in fact, both approaches pay off on the same values. To build a brand or a product quickly in order to minimise the risk of bad investments and to be able to measure the prospects of success or the necessary need for change as early as possible.

In order not to be displaced by the constantly changing market or simply miss the interest of the users, the MVP method was developed within the framework of the Lean Start-up idea in order to develop a product quickly, close to the user needs. By entering the market early, initial feedback from the intended target group can be obtained after a short time.

 All it takes is a first version with all the functionalities necessary for basic use, which provides valuable feedback for optimising the product.

The bottom line is:

Final thoughts

As a start-up consultant, you are never working alone. You meet many different kinds of people with different backgrounds and ideas. That is what makes the profession so special. It is not one-sided or boring: it is exciting and fulfilling.

Is it too much to say I am in love with my job? Perhaps it is a bit much, but I can say that I love the work I do and building a close rapport with the founders. The relationships alone are worth doing the job. Not only do I give something, but I also get something back from people, and that is to be true to your idea and to yourself. I am true to myself as a start-up consultant, as a side hustler and as a human.

My Side Hustle - Wall St. Nerd

With Wall St. Nerd I started my own business. First and foremost, it is my side hustle and my own independent project that I am working on. Here I will share all my knowledge and thoughts about stock investing, REITs investing, value investing as well as business creation, especially online businesses and side hustles with you.

However, I am working out another source of income with my side hustle, which helps me achieve my financial goals and desires.

For me, it is very important to work on my own project and also with my blog Wall St. Nerd I want to help people with their ideas and I wish that they are successful and can fulfil their goals and wishes themselves. That is what Wall St. Nerd stands for!

All in all, I have two specific passions, investing in stocks and building and supporting start-up ventures. Creative and motivated people drive me and I am happy to combine these two passions on Wall St. Nerd.

About Alexander Kelm

Alexander Kelm is a passionate value investor and runs the website Wall St. Nerd. Here, the passionate value investor writes in-depth articles on the topic of Value Investing. Value Investing involves analyzing a company's fundamentals and can be characterized by an intense focus on a stock's price, its intrinsic value and the relationship between the two.

Alexander Kelm offers online courses on stock investing.

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