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These 5 characteristics define the leaders of German unicorn startups

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The management teams of German startups are not as diverse as one would like to think.

You know one, you know them all: that’s the title of the study Handelsblatt is currently reporting on: Digital8.ai, a Frankfurt am Main agency that describes itself as a “digital native network for culture and innovation digital”, has 127 CVs vetted and compared from people working at management level in the 24 most valuable start-ups in Germany. Lo and behold, you can see pretty clear patterns: The unicorns are run by fairly young white men in their early 40s who have studied business and have a background in banking or consulting.

In detail, the results of the study, which a look at linked profiles of the startup elite quickly confirms, look like this:

  • This is above all the Unicorn handlebars male. 89 percent of the CVs examined belong to men, only 11 percent to women. This means that the proportion of women in the crème de la crème of German startups is even worse than in the largest companies on the German stock exchange, where it is 19 percent (possibly thanks to the share of women there).

  • C-level men, the study shows, studied for the most part (about half) the same thing, namely Economic Sciences. Many of them at renowned universities such as the WHU or the TU Munich. They are followed by IT specialists (17 percent) and engineers (10 percent).

  • On average, the Unicorn leadership team 42 years young. This is significantly younger than for the DAX companies, highlights a Digital8 spokesperson in the Handelsblatt, where the average is already 53 years old when it reaches this level.

  • 58 percent of Unicorn handlebars have one german passport, according to the result of the Digital8 study. Only eight percent are Americans, six Austrians.

  • Looking deeper into resumes, the agency finds that there are more big and well-known names in the professional experience. Many of the managers have investment banks or management consulting started

Overall, this shows that German start-ups, or better: the management team of them, are much less diverse than perhaps expected in the first place and constantly proclaimed in the second place. In an interview with Gründerszene, Julian von Blücher, CEO of the Talent Tree recruitment agency in Munich, once described that hiring people with the profiles described above is one thing above all: a safe choice. “The conventional full-throttle kind of helps with uncertainty,” says the HR expert. “With a triple-A candidate with an average GPA, a WHU degree, and seasons in investment banking, I buy myself some security.” So he he can do something.”But I still don’t know if he fits in with the company,” says Blücher.

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