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#04 The difference between Big companies and Startups – Michael von Roeder

Michael von Roeder CEO of Sensorberg, works both as entrepreneur and corporate executive. Currently he serves as CEO of Sensorberg, a SaaS IoT company merging the physical with the digital world. He founded and invested in a number of startups in the areas of Mobile, Energy and FinTech. Until mid 2016 he was responsible for Vattenfalls pan-european IT and communication network and IT operations. Before that he worked for Vodavone and Icon Mobile.


  • The interviewee has a background in both corporate and startup settings, experiencing the contrast between the two. (00:00)
  • They talk about their startup experience, building a company from scratch, and the excitement of creating something new. (03:18)
  • The interviewee emphasizes the importance of finding the right co-founders and building a team that complements each other’s skills. (04:58)
  • They discuss the challenges faced during the early stages of the startup, such as securing funding and managing cash flow. (07:10)
  • The interviewee highlights the significance of product-market fit and how they achieved it through iterations and customer feedback. (09:00)
  • They explain the role of investors in supporting the startup’s growth and providing valuable guidance. (11:53)
  • The interviewee shares their perspective on failure, the lessons learned, and the importance of embracing setbacks as opportunities for growth. (13:28)
  • They talk about the evolution of their startup, expanding into new markets, and adapting the product to meet customer needs. (15:34)
  • The interviewee discusses the differences between executive life in a corporate vs. startup setting, including decision-making processes and politics. (23:50)
  • They highlight the need for changing incentives to promote innovation in a corporate environment. (26:28)
  • The interviewee talks about self-organizing teams and the importance of a technical architecture that allows for flexibility and innovation in a startup. (33:34)
  • They discuss the challenges of scaling sales and maintaining quality as demand increases. (46:50)
  • Advice to their 20-year-old self: Pursue what you love without fear of risks, get a coach earlier, and be authentic in interactions. (48:57)
Interesting Quotes:

„If you communicate as leader be aware of context.”

„Encourage employees to be independent.”

„beeing coachable”

Book Recommendation:
Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail
The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business –  Clayton M. Christensen
Spotify Organization Videos:
German Interview:
#being coachable, #get a coach, #Big company good for CV, #Clear goals to everybody, #Complication comes with size, #encourage employees to be independent

more about Sensorberg

Sensorberg is a Berlin-based company specializing in Beacon software. Founded in 2013 by Alexander Oelling, the company focuses on creating Internet of Things (IoT) networks for businesses and consumers. Sensorberg’s technology aids in digitalizing business processes and automating workflows, both industrial and non-industrial. Their solutions range from proximity marketing campaigns to recording physical workflows. The company operates as a private entity and continues to be active in the technology sector, particularly in enterprise software and IoT applications.


(00:00) Introduction
Florian introduces Michael von Roeder, who shares insights from his experience in both large corporations and startups.
(00:34) Differences in Structure and Culture
Michael discusses how corporations and startups differ in their structures and working cultures, emphasizing the flexibility in startups versus the structured environment in corporations.
(01:11) Scaling Challenges in Startups
He explains the challenges startups face as they grow, particularly in managing team structures and hierarchies.
(02:10) Innovation and Corporate Regulations
Michael highlights how startups are more conducive to innovation due to fewer regulations compared to corporations.
(03:19) Employee Experience and Responsibilities
Differences in onboarding and training between startups and corporations are discussed, with startups requiring a more proactive approach from employees.
(04:21) Decision Making and Complexity
Michael touches on how decision-making processes differ in startups and corporations, with startups being more agile.
(05:24) Working Environment in Startups vs Corporations
He contrasts the formal organization in corporations with the informal, flexible environment in startups.
(06:28) Career Implications and Responsibilities
Michael talks about the career trajectory differences in startups and corporations, noting faster responsibility growth in startups.
(07:32) Understanding Customer and Market Needs
He emphasizes the importance of understanding customer and market needs, especially in B2B startups.
(08:36) Leading and Managing in Startups
Discussion on leadership and management in startups, focusing on departmental organization and employee motivation.
(10:12) Transparency and Communication in Startups
Michael stresses the importance of transparency and open communication within startups.
(11:34) Challenges of Managing a Growing Team
He addresses the challenges of managing a growing team, especially in maintaining communication and alignment.
(12:31) Time Zone Challenges in Global Teams
Florian and Michael discuss the challenges of managing teams across different time zones.
(13:29) Innovation in Communication and Team Interaction
Michael shares innovative approaches to improving communication and interaction among global teams.
(14:34) Fostering a Culture of Communication and Collaboration
The conversation shifts to fostering a culture of communication and collaboration within a company.
(16:31) Encouraging Proactive Problem-Solving
Michael talks about encouraging employees to proactively identify and solve problems.
(17:37) Transparency and Goal Setting
He discusses the importance of transparency in goal setting and decision-making.
(19:06) Balancing Transparency and Employee Concerns
Michael touches on the balance between being transparent and not overburdening employees with concerns.
(20:37) Vision and Future Planning in Leadership
The discussion moves to the importance of vision and future planning in leadership.
(22:37) Differences in Daily Work in Startups vs Corporations
Michael compares his daily work in startups and corporations, highlighting the differences in control, meetings, and politics.
(25:54) Meeting Dynamics and Decision-Making in Corporations
He describes how meetings and decision-making processes work in corporations.
(28:19) Decision Making Speed and Flexibility in Startups
The conversation shifts to the speed and flexibility of decision-making in startups.
(31:17) Structuring Large Companies like Google
Michael discusses how large companies like Google structure themselves to maintain startup-like agility.
(34:05) Technology and Streamlining in Startups
He talks about the role of technology in streamlining processes in startups.
(37:21) Tool Use and Flexibility in Startups
Discussion on the variety of tools used in startups and the flexibility in their adoption.
(39:41) Managing Change and Structure in Startups
Michael addresses how to manage changes in structure and tools within a startup.
(42:17) Self-Leadership and Continuous Learning
He shares insights on self-leadership and the importance of continuous learning and coaching.
(47:17) Balancing Demand and Quality in Scaling
Michael talks about the challenges of balancing demand and maintaining quality as a startup scales.
(50:04) Advice for Younger Self
Finally, Michael shares advice he would give to his younger self, focusing on taking risks and being open to learning.