From pro basketball player to founding a startup that fights climate change

This former pro athlete shares what sports taught him about entrepreneurship.

After starting his career as a professional basketball player, Philipp Pausder pivoted into a role where he worked on energy projects in emerging markets. It wasn't long before Pausder took his interest and knowledge in energy and founded Thermondo, a company that strives to reduce Germany's energy consumption.

Pausder and his two co-founders, Florian Tetylaff and Kristofer Fichtner, want to help keep global temperatures from rising another two degrees celsius, the number agreed to at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in 2015. Scientists and experts warn that two degrees would result in serious consequences for the planet, humans and other life forms.

Thermondo (German) targets the heater installation industry and offers a variety of services, like exchanging old heaters in single-family homes with newer, more energy-efficient ones.

With a business model based on vertical integration, the company combines digital and non-digital worlds. Since founding, Thermondo raised nearly €37 million from renowned investors, such as Rocket Internet and Holtzbrinck Ventures, and achieved an impressive average annual growth of 638 per cent.

“Start with a deep vertical integration and master the craft of your business. With a complex business model, you need to do the details. It is painful and frustrating, but in the end it will give you a competitive advantage.”

In this interview Pausder shares how his time as an athlete prepared him for a career as an entrepreneur and which major markets have potential for founding a company. He also explains why it is necessary to go through hard times, stay self-critical and pivot your startup quickly to be successful.

[01:19 – 02:45]  On striking the balance between fatherhood and being an entrepreneur
[02:46 – 03:57]  On how sports and being a professional athlete taught Pausder about entrepreneurship
[03:58 – 08:57]  How Thermondo works — combining an old industry with the digital world
[08:58 – 11:17]  How Pausder and his co-founders got started
[11:18 – 14:13]  On the future of Thermondo’s market and the German energy sector
[14:14 – 17:16]  How to manage growth, focus and scalability of a complex business model
[17:17 – 18:44]  On the difficulties of vertical integration
[18:45 – 21:00]  On convince top investors, like Holtzbrinck Ventures and Rocket Internet, to invest
[21:01 – 23:06]  Other craftsman industries that could be digitalized
[23:07 – 25:17]  Three pieces of advice he gives first-time founders
[25:18 – 25:39]  The best advice Pausder ever received

This text originally appeared on Startup Notes.

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