X Close



UCL events news and reviews


Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture: Hanse Ventures – Building great companies

By Wendy J Tester, on 10 March 2011

This week’s ‘Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture Series’ talk was given by Sarik Weber, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Hanse Ventures. UCL students Mansour Abdulghaffar and Carolina Mostert summarise his lecture below.

Weber’s background

Weber is a graduate student of European Business Studies from Osnabrueck, Germany, and also studied at Buckinghamshire Business School and Deusto, San Sebastián. During his career, amongst his many start-ups, Weber helped to build XING AG and founded Cellity AG which was sold to Nokia in 2009. On 1 February 2010 Weber founded his latest and current company in Hamburg, Germany: Hanse Ventures GmbH, a start-up incubator for entrepreneurs and their ideas.

Hanse Ventures: The background and the operation

Hanse Ventures is made up of a team of 38 people, among which are founding shareholders, established senior managers and directors who yearned for a change in their careers and can now “feel less like managers and more like entrepreneurs”. Weber explained that as an entrepreneur “you get approached by others for help because you’re the expert”, suggesting that this was the initial stimulus behind Hanse Ventures.

Weber then explained how his incubator’s model differs from other models, which only offered office space, coffee and wi-fi. Weber believes that its not enough to state you’re an incubator, you must also offer real value. For this reason, he provides the big offices, in-house resources (e.g. web designers, developers, search engine optimisation experts, contacts and expertise), continuous mentorship and access to the founding shareholders’ valuable network of contacts.

Weber then explained how Hanse Ventures operates. The entrepreneur either approaches the incubator with an idea seeking support (financial, advice, mentorship) or he approaches the incubator looking for an idea. In the former case, Hanse Ventures will finance the entrepreneur – together with other experienced angel investors or venture capitalists – and see the company through its creation and growth. In the latter, Hanse Ventures operates an “entrepreneurs in residence” programme, where entrepreneurs are assigned tasks and challenged to see where they best fit. Once this is established, they are matched with one of Hanse Ventures’ ideas. Weber mentioned that his aspiration is not to create the next Skype or Twitter, but rather to focus on business and industries which are successful offline but have not yet shifted online.

Top tips for starting a business and being a successful entrepreneur

In Weber’s opinion, the most important thing is to have a co-founder who can help in tough times, bring in complementary skills and be a source of motivation. He mentioned that “too many cooks spoil the broth” and that ideally a team should consist of two people. His second choice would be three to four co-founders, and lastly a one-man team if inevitable. Another valuable tip given is that it’s never too early to start networking. Furthermore, Weber also believes “it’s all about finding the right people” and states that “your best people bring in the best people”, illustrating the power of networking.

Weber concluded by stating that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, one must have an “inner desire” from an early age. For example, in his case, Weber told students of how he performed his first entrepreneurial activity when he was 12 years old. At the time, Weber wanted to purchase a stereo but did not have the money. Failing to get the money from his father, Weber then established a deal with the local bakery to buy bread in bulk with discounts; he then delivered it to his neighbours and sold for a profit. Finally, he encouraged students to “never stop learning, never stop asking and to continue improvement”.

The UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture Series is organised by UCL Advances and UCL Department Management Science and Innovation.

One Response to “Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture: Hanse Ventures – Building great companies”

Leave a Reply