7 reasons why consultants become successful founders

Maximilian Tayenthal, Alexander Brand, Nikita Fahrenholz, Thomas Griesel, Benjamin Bauer and Arne Bleckwenn are successful German entrepreneurs, known as founders of companies such as N26 and Delivery Hero, and are among the top 100 entrepreneurs in Germany in terms of venture capital raised. Many of them worked as consultants before becoming founders, which gave them a wide range of skills and a broad network. This experience in consulting contributed significantly to her success in the start-up world.

What do the following people have in common: Maximilian Tayenthal, Alexander Brand, Nikita Fahrenholz, Thomas Griesel, Benjamin Bauer, Arne Bleckwenn?

1. the names will be familiar to those familiar with the startup scene. Because they are all German entrepreneurs: Maximilian Tayenthal (Co-Founder N26), Alexander Brand (Co-Founder Windeln.de), Nikita Fahrenholz (Co-Founder Delivery Hero), Thomas Griesel (Co-Founder hello fresh), Benjamin Bauer (Co-Founder Foodpanda), Arne Bleckwenn (Co-Founder Wimdu).

2. they are not just any entrepreneurs, they are actually among the top 100 most successful in Germany (according to the Bundesverband deutsche Startups e.V.) measured by how much venture capital they have raised.

3. they all earned their money as consultants for a while before becoming entrepreneurs, as did another 13 of the top 100 entrepreneurs. This makes the profession of management consultant number 1 in this ranking.

(4. And yes, unfortunately they are all men, which is a real shame and shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to promote female entrepreneurs).

19 of the TOP100 German entrepreneurs who have raised the most venture capital were previously consultants

Even though my scientific past has taught me that correlation (1) is not the same as causality and (2) works in both directions, I take this above-mentioned fact as an opportunity to ask: Where is the connection here? Why have consultants in particular so often managed to convince investors to provide venture capital for their ideas? Here are 7 answers from me to this question:

1. the development of cross-industry know-how

One particular factor that can help develop entrepreneurial skill is the sheer volume of projects a consultant works on. Simultaneous work on projects in unrelated areas, e.g. oil and gas and telecommunications, is not uncommon. As a result, consultants not only acquire 360-degree expertise across different industries, but can also transfer special features from one industry to another and exploit differences.

2. consultants develop a nose for what works and what doesn’t

An experienced consultant not only has valuable knowledge of many industries, but her experience in identifying weaknesses and opportunities also makes her an expert in solving complex business problems. As a consultant, you know the market conditions of products and business models in various sectors. On the one hand, this makes it easier to identify trends and opportunities. On the other hand, you also learn how to react to them.

3. consultants are high-performers

Consultants work in a highly stressful environment, in the midst of great ambiguity and uncertainty. 60-80 hour weeks are not uncommon. So you get used to spending the odd night in the office. This experience prepares them for the difficult years as entrepreneurs. They learn to deal with stress and crises, become more resilient, more resilient and know what “hard work” means.

4. consultants have a good network

The network that consultants have built up over the years through the large number of mandates and diverse clients is also valuable when setting up a company. It gives them an advantage over other young female entrepreneurs, e.g. when it comes to sparring ideas or access to experts, capital and resources.

5. consultants are all-rounders, but at the same time must always continue to develop

An entrepreneur does not work in silos. He must be familiar with all areas of the company. Beyond that, however, he should first and foremost be a visionary. And the best corporate visionaries know how to break down their plan into value-adding and targeted measures – or in other words, they have to figure out how to tackle a task. Consultants learn exactly that, as they operate in an environment in which they have to deal with different scenarios, circumstances and above all (!) people on a daily basis. With each new mandate, the consultant is forced to adapt to the conditions of the company for which he works. He gets better at it over time and grows with it. By building up a network, getting to know different industry activities and dealing with customers on a daily basis, consultants have the best prerequisites for being a founder.

6. consultants can do sales and storytelling aka pitching

In a customer-centric industry, meeting time and quality targets is an important factor in customer loyalty – and if you don’t deliver what you promised by a certain date, there’s a risk that an important piece of future business will be lost and the follow-up order won’t materialize. Consultants rarely work in a true employer-employee relationship, but almost exclusively in a client-service provider relationship (or client-contractor relationship). This teaches them how to sell and present themselves and their product. Speaking of presenting: One of the main tasks of consultants is to put their concepts on slides and usually present them to board members or managing directors in such a way that they are convinced of the concept. Does this sound familiar? Replace “advisor” with “founder”, “concept” with “idea” and “board members” with “venture capital investors” and you have a pitch. In short: consultants pitch – day in, day out – in front of customers! One thing is always most important: the storyline! You learn to communicate a story concisely and not to lose sight of the message, even with pages of data and research. You convince people by learning to tell stories. Every startup founder needs this core competence. Because they have to present their story to customers, investors, partners and employees.

7. consultants are team players

Consultants often work in teams and even if – as we hear – the elbow culture is often greater than the team culture internally, especially at the large consulting firms, consultants still know, at least in theory, how teams work together effectively. They even become experts in leading and motivating highly complex teams of people with differing and opposing opinions, characteristics and views.

I can think of many other parallels, and the more I think about it, the less surprised I am that consulting is a good preparation for entrepreneurship, even if that might be difficult to prove. (But maybe someone would like to investigate this in a proper research paper for their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. So if anyone is looking for a topic – you’re welcome).

In any case, I can report from my personal experience that I have experienced and learned all the points mentioned above during my time as a consultant at perpetuo GmbH. In addition, with the “Best of Management Consulting and Startup”, to which we have committed ourselves, we place an even greater focus on entrepreneurship, so the “training for founders” is even better with us.

Oh…and the issue of the elbow culture in large consulting firms. Well, for one thing, we are not (yet) one of the really big players. And secondly, anyone who knows us knows that “corporate family” is the glue that holds us together and that we really and truly live it here. And who doesn’t know us? Well…then get to know us – it’s about time!

More blog posts


Perpetuo GmbH is your strategic partner with offices in Dortmund and Munich. We accompany your company through all project phases as a holistic partner with in-depth industry knowledge. Together we develop tailor-made solutions and maximize your potential.


You can also contact us directly by e-mail or telephone. Our experts look forward to getting to know you and discussing your requirements.


0231 86408 – 39

Rely on Perpetuo GmbH – your partner for outstanding management consulting in Dortmund and Munich.