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11 Dec 2019

Survey among startup founders: Who is your role model?

  • Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are very popular with founders
  • At school, founding is not an issue
  • Bitkom publishes Startup Report 2019


Elon Musk is regarded as the greatest role model among German startup founders. Every fourth founder (24 percent) who claims to have a role model named the Tesla boss. He is followed by Apple founder Steve Jobs (13 percent), Richard Branson (Virgin, 7 percent) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon, 6 percent). SAP founder Hasso Plattner and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (3 percent each) are right behind. However, only 3 out of 10 startup founders (29 percent) said that they were inspired by a role model. This is a result of the "Startup Report 2019" published today by the digital association Bitkom, which is based on a survey among more than 300 startups. "The results show: We need more role models for founders who come from Germany and Europe", says Bitkom President Achim Berg. "In the meantime, there are also a whole range of successful female founders in this country. If we want more girls and young women to become enthusiastic about technology and tech startups, then we need to pay much more attention to these female founders."

This is also urgently necessary, because at least in school the current startup founders were not prepared. 8 out of 10 founders (84 percent) state that no knowledge about founding was taught at all in their school days. One in two (52 percent) say that their teachers were hostile to the topic of founding and self-employment. One in four (28 percent) say that their parents did not want them to start a business. Berg: "Knowing how to set up a tech start-up or other company must become an integral part of the curriculum. And we also have to empower teachers to teach that knowledge."

Startup Report 2019 is available for download

These are two results from the "Startup Report 2019" of the digital association Bitkom, which is now available for download. Further results are among others:

  • On average, each startup in Germany currently employs 15 people.
  • Three quarters of the start-ups (76 percent) wanted to create new jobs this year.
  • More than every second start-up (56 percent) was unable to fill a position due to a lack of suitable candidates.
  • Every fourth developer (24 percent) in German startups is not a German citizen.
  • 8 out of 10 start-ups (79 percent) need fresh capital for the next two years, on average 3.2 million euros are needed. However, a large majority (81 percent) is confident that they will be able to raise the capital.
  • Every third start-up (32 percent) considers an IPO in the future conceivable.
  • An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is an option for more than every seventh start-up (16 percent).
  • Every second founder (50 percent) says that the situation for start-ups in Germany has improved in the last two years. A year ago, the figure was 59 percent, which is significantly higher. And only 39 percent (2018: 44 percent) say that the situation of their own start-up has improved during this period.
  • Currently, 4 out of 10 start-ups (39 percent) in Germany already use artificial intelligence, and a similar number (38 percent) are planning or discussing the use of the technology.
  • 8 out of 10 start-ups (80 percent) complain that German policy is getting bogged down in detailed questions and is thus missing the connection to the world's top in major future topics such as AI.
  • On average, start-up founders pitch 121 times a year in front of investors or potential customers and business partners as well as award juries.

Details on these and other results of the survey can be found in Bitkom's "Startup Report 2019" published today, which is available for free download here.


Note on methodology: The information is based on a survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of Bitkom. In this survey 321 IT and Internet start-ups in Germany were interviewed.