“Don’t Overestimate the Hype” – Learnings and Challenges of a German Startup in Silicon Valley

Written by Preston Locher

German Accelerator alumnus Christian Götz is CEO and Co-Founder of HiveMQ, a messaging platform used across the automotive, consumer goods, and entertainment industries to securely connect millions of IoT devices. HiveMQ took part in the German Accelerator program in Silicon Valley as part of the class of 2019-1.

German Accelerator Alumnus, Christian Görtz in his office

German Accelerator Alumnus Christian Götz, CEO and Co-founder of HiveMQ | Photo by: ramonafotografie.de

1. In your eyes, what makes an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is somebody who is willing to take risks to build a product or a service in an uncertain environment. The challenge of the entrepreneur is to create a validated product or service that consumers will both pay for and tell their friends about.

2. What are your 5 learnings from the German Accelerator program?

Infographic on 5 Learnings from the German Accelerator Program of Christian Goetz of HiveQM
Simplify things – if you can’t explain things simply, you don’t understand them well enough yourself. If I can’t explain our business or our customers’ use cases in simple terms, I don’t have the clarity myself. This really helped me redefine our messaging.

Money is not a solution to all problems – despite Silicon Valley being the hub for venture capital, we came back without funding – intentionally. Being surrounded by a startup ecosystem where everyone likes to talk about how much money they have raised, makes it very tempting to do the same. Founders often set themselves “mental” limitations and think that they can only solve their problems with a huge amount of money. For example, I may think that I need 300,000€ for marketing, but actually I can achieve the same outcome with 30,000€ and some growth hacking.

Think big – don’t look at the future taking into account where you came from, approach it from where you can go in the future.

“Your network is your net worth” – this quote from Porter Gale was another big learning. While I knew the importance of networking before starting the program, it was only in Silicon Valley that I realized the value of connections who can open doors for you. Meeting a lot of people and speaking freely about success, failures, and current challenges brought my conversations and network to a new level.

Don’t overestimate the Silicon Valley hype – yes, there are a lot of great tech companies out there and it can feel intimidating at times, but you too are bringing something valuable to the table. Don’t forget your worth.

3. What was your biggest challenge during the program?

The biggest challenge was the time difference. We were aware of it beforehand and tried to reset our schedules accordingly, but the truth is, it got hard. It’s difficult when your hands are tied 10,000 kilometers away from home and you can’t easily fix things or brainstorm with people on a whiteboard. Of course, distance can be bridged using online meeting technologies, nonetheless, nothing is better than being physically present with the HiveMQ team from time to time. I learned that being away for three straight months is possible, but may not be ideal for the rapid development of the company. Being physically present in our office makes it easy to align everybody on the common vision.

Want to know more about Silicon Valley? Read Thirty Years in Silicon Valley: Life’s Biggest Lessons Come from Life’s Biggest Failures

Are you a German startup seeking to scale in the U.S.? Check out our German Accelerator programs in Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley. If you are interested in expansion opportunities in Southeast Asia, check out our German Accelerator program in Singapore.

About HiveMQ

HiveMQ is a MQTT based messaging platform that helps companies connect devices to the Internet. They make it possible to move data from devices to cloud in a secure, reliable, and scalable manner. Over 130 customers, like BMW, Audi, Liberty Global, Acer, and ZF rely on their product in production for mission-critical use cases like connected cars, logistics, Industry 4.0, and connected IoT products. Founded in 2012 in Landshut by Christian Götz and Dominik Obermaier, the company successfully completed the German Accelerator Program in Silicon Valley (Class 2019-1). They were named among Deloitte’s “Fast 50” in 2018 and most recently won the “Focus Wachstumschampion 2020” award.