Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI



Interview mit Frank Pawlitschek: Enabling Entrepreneurial Impact

Dr. Frank Pawlitschek, Director of the HPI School of Entrepreneurship gave a lecture for students of the German International School Silicon Valley on "Enabling Entrepreneurial Impact - Following Your Own Ideas and Making a Difference" on April 5, 2022. Pawlitschek believes entrepreneurs who follow their own ideas can unleash incredible potential to address societal challenges. In his talk, he took the students on his own entrepreneurial journey in the field of climate change and talked about what it takes to become an entrepreneur and how HPI supports future entrepreneurs and startups.



Dr. Frank Pawlitschek
Interview with Dr. Frank Pawlitschek. (Picture: HPI/K:Herschelmann)

Interview with Dr. Frank Pawlischek

What is entrepreneurship about exactly?

Entrepreneurship is about the active, responsible, and sustainable execution of ideas and/ or technologies into scalable products and companies.

Our mindset is the underlying mechanism that can expose opportunities and ignite our ambition while engaging our faculties in ways that enable us to flourish and thrive. Why is it so important to convey and to teach an entrepreneurial mindset at an early stage?

We all possess an entrepreneurial mindset to a certain extent. It's about awakening this mindset in people and making them to feel they can achieve their goals if they persevere. Experiencing and getting excited about what we are personally capable of and what we can do if we stand up for a strong "why" is an essential foundation for a successful entrepreneur.

How can an entrepreneurial mindset be already taught at school? What kind of learning experiences within our classrooms, organizations, and communities do we need?

We need to make sure that people experience in a practical way what an entrepreneurial mindset means. This kind of mindset is difficult to grasp in theory. This happens through frequent inspiration, for example through inspiring entrepreneurs and their stories. Whereby both stories of success and of failure can be inspiring. In our view, however, it is essential to have formats in which those we want to inspire and ignite can experience for themselves what they can make happen while doing it. These are formats in which building customer and market-oriented products and startups is not taught in theory but done and implemented in practice. Once you have experienced how rewarding it is to have found a good "product-market fit" with a potential customer, you usually can't help but continue to do so yourself.

As an entrepreneur, you have a constant will to improve your skills, learn from your mistakes, and take continuous action on your ideas. What is your recipe for success?

It is necessary that, as an entrepreneur, I know why I am committed to something and that I have a willingness not to let up or to accept "yes, but ...", rather to always look for ways to succeed that result almost automatically from such an approach. It is the strong belief in a goal, in a vision, and the willingness to do everything to achieve it. Methodically, this means: always do and execute something as quickly as possible, learn from it, and continue with what you have learned. This applies to the founder's personal behavior as well as to the product, go-to-market strategy, business model, and so on.

There is a saying: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the ones who don’t do anything.” Why is failure an important success builder?

Mistakes are a good gauge of whether an entrepreneur's product and company are on the right path to scaling the idea. Mistakes should be made quickly, and their effects should be manageable. This can be achieved by taking small steps as quickly as possible. Those who invest too much time and resources before realizing that they are making a mistake quickly risk the survival of the company. Therefore, it is important that one’s own hypothesis be validated as quickly as possible with customers, market, partners, etc. We teach this intensively right from the start and show the simple methods that work.

What do you wish for the next generation of entrepreneurs?

My wish is that there will be more and more people who recognize their potential to make a difference through entrepreneurial thinking and action. We are confronted with massive challenges on this planet for our society and our environment. Responsible and sustainable entrepreneurial thinking and action are an essential element in solving these challenges. We want to inspire as many people as possible and support them on their way to making a difference.

Thank you for this great interview!