Meet the NEXT mentors: Matthias Patz

Since we are kicking off NEXT TODAY we also give you another great mentor today: Matthias Patz, Innovation Manager at DB Systel GmbH. He can tell you all about great synergies between corporations and startups.
To get to know you a bit better: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you coming from, what did you do and what did you study?
Welcome to StartupWeekend Next, my name is Matthias Patz and I am a genuine Berlin guy. I started with academic career in business computing in Frankfurt and continued toward entrepreneruship and innovation management for a master’s degree in the Netherlands. Professionally, I found my first company in 2007 in the translation service industry and also tried out various e-commerce ideas – where some turned out to work not as good as intended. Furthermore, I worked as Scrum Master in agile software development teams in the transportation sector. For more than two years, I am challenged as innovation manager for the ICT service provider of Deutsche Bahn Group. Hence I am able to work and try out highly innovative technologies to demonstrate technical feasibility and business value for our company and also our clients.

On a professional level: How do you define success in business? What was your biggest success?

Remaining in the innovation domain, inventions turn into innovations if the idea finally becomes commercially successful. Nevertheless, success should not only be captured in monetary terms. For me success also means the mastery of a challenge irrespectively of the final outcome.Success also entails to create something great and lasting. One recent success I experience was to contribute to a change within my company that gives space for innovation that is sustainable.

What do you want to teach people attending SW Next?

Personally, I expect that mentees are hungry for our (the mentors’) experience and suck out all the information they need. Besides, I want the teams to understand that in that early stage, they are only dealing with assumptions and the variety of a manifestations of a potential solution is huge. In other words, they should not get to attached to their first idea. Finally, I want them to learn and start building things.

In your opinion, what is the most important thing to focus on as a young founder?

Discipline is a very crucial character trade of a founder. That means it is important to be able to focus on one thing at a time. Young founders should learn to focus on not do several things in parallel.

What do you hope for your mentees to take away from Next and your mentoring?

The StartupWeekend Next program should prepare the teams for the next steps in their startup journey. They should build a network, understand how to build great products / services and experience what it means to be an entrepreneur.

How do you want to help your mentees to succeed?

I want to get them quickly into an “trial-and-error” mode that they try out and validate their ideas. Furthermore, I can share expierences from the startup, as well as, the corporate world and that both complement each other quite well. Being also involved in the LeanStartup and DesignThinking community may help to facilitate on a methodological basis.

What would you say was the trickiest thing you encountered in your job speaking in terms of innovation in a well established company?

One thing I had to learn the hard way is, that you need to be patient when it comes to innovation in corporate structures. Bureaucracy slows you down. You also need to understand that planning ahead is important. That’s why, large companies are not as agile as startups. But if you figured out your way, those companies have the power to execute really efficiently by leveraging existing structures. In a nutshell, corporations are designed for efficiency and it is exciting to find the right balance of startup behaviour, which it can withstand.


Are you getting excited yet about NEXT? Well, you should! And make sure to get your ticket. If you like us, you can like us on Facebook to also get the latest info, follow us on Twitter and tell your founder friends about us!


All the best,

Your Startup Weekend Berlin Team