Current project: inoqo
Personal vision: Mitigate climate and biodiversity crisis through encouraging more sustainable consumption
Special focus: Biodiversity and Climate crisis
Recipe for success: Put your vision at the core of what you do
“If you want to succeed put the vision at the core of what you do. Making money, or becoming rich shouldn’t be on your mind as an entrepreneur – that should ideally be the side effect that will happen if you create real value”.
Born to be entrepreneur
Markus Linder developed very early on a strong interest for problem solving. Already as a teenager, he got himself into the habit of coming up with a new business idea every day, usually crazy ones, but sometimes also ideas with potential.
Zoovu was his first startup company, a SaaS startup that he launched as a student at the Vienna University of Business and Economics together with his co-founders. His vision? To empower consumers by assisting them in choosing products according to their needs when shopping online. The company grew very fast, raising funds in several investment rounds and gaining more and more customers. Once the company had reached more than 100 employees and grew at a triple-digit growth rate, he decided to hand the company over to a highly experienced scale-up CEO. Markus decided that it was time to move on because sales processes’ optimization and new market entries were not what he is passionate about: “My passion is to build things from scratch”.
The great travel(s)
Is it difficult or sensible to leave a successful company in full expansion ? This is what Markus did: he stepped down from his operational role at Zoovu remaining as of today the largest individual shareholder of the company – and took a sabbatical to travel. What he experienced during this time are the disastrous impacts of climate warming on nature: glaciers disappearing, extreme temperatures and weather conditions are already happening. It became clear to him that his next challenge would be related to the two greatest challenges of humanity: biodiversity loss and climate change: “I am not sure whether everyone is really aware how dramatic the situation really is. We as humans have brought one million species to the brink of extinction”. As an Impact Investor, he actively supports companies whose business plan is to mitigate these two major crises – “That became a very interesting part of my professional career and my experience as an entrepreneur at the other side of the table”.
It did not take him long to come back with a new business idea tackling the environment crisis. How could he empower millions of consumers who want to have a positive impact on the planet to consume more responsibly? inoqo was born. “Politicians need to do a lot and move the needle massively, but if we as consumers don’t show that we are serious about mitigating these two crises, our politicians won’t either”. inoqo will empower consumers to trace the impact of their purchase decisions, while staying true to their personal priorities and values. Users will get a direct overview of the impact their choices have on the planet e.g. how much habitat they can support for other species by avoiding products with non-certified palm oil, or how much CO2 emissions they have saved throughout the week.
What are the skills that Markus came to regard as particularly important in his hitherto entrepreneurial journey? a) Visionary thinking i.e. being able to create business models with a unique vision that tackle great challenges. b) Persistence which means staying focused and embracing hard facts instead of looking for cutting corners e.g. easy exit, and staying loyal to the vision. c) Creating a culture for talent that is, being genuinely interested in the personal (not only technical) development of your people – such an approach attracts great talent.
Advice to prospective entrepreneurs
“Getting rich should not be the goal but a side effect” – creating value should be at the center of your practice. Before anything else, think how you can contribute to solving really big challenges out there and not how to copy already established solutions. Last but not least “Focus on a business model that makes an important contribution but is also scalable across the world”.
“Every tiny little step that each and every one of us can take in our life as parents, as consumers, as employees, as entrepreneurs, as investors, as citizens will be really crucial to avoid the complete crash”.
A crucial learning
“Being an entrepreneur is important, but other things are important as well in life”. In the early days he used to work up to 80 hours/week but this was harming his passion. Freeing your mind with other things, e.g. practicing Yoga or going for a run early in the morning is crucial – it “helps me make proactive choices instead of floating in the middle of the river or running in the hamster wheel”.
A final message
“With the things people buy, they vote with their money for the world they want to live in” – right now we vote for deforestation and for the cruel treatment of animals. “The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of that” and fortunately, this ballot opens every day.
Next week: Petra Boteková
In our weekly interview series, we will be featuring various inspirational entrepreneurs of the Austrian startup scene. Each Monday, you can expect useful insights into their lives and practical tips that you can follow in order to walk your entrepreneurial path. Like, share, comment – and feel free to reach out to us. Suggestions, ideas, remarks are all welcome – let’s shape the ecosystem together!