“We are catapulting etventure into a new orbit”
Now it’s official: etventure has become part of the EY Group (Ernst & Young). Founder and CEO of etventure, Philipp Herrmann, explains here how the digital pioneer and Big Four firm fit together.
Philipp, when you look back at the past seven years – how would you describe the history of etventure?
We like to think of etventure as an airplane that has gained altitude in a very short period of time and has had to develop on a continual basis during this rapid ascent. From the first model aircraft to the more agile prop plane, through to today’s high-performance jet aircraft. Against this backdrop, it’s quite obvious to me looking back that the entire team is the star of this seven-year history. Our people really pulled it off in an admirable fashion: this incredible growth combined with continual change and – of course – the inevitable growing pains, and they have managed to drive forward the company’s DNA as well as our culture to this day. It’s a really impressive achievement!
How did etventure get started?
What many people won’t know is that we conceived of etventure in 2010 at a late-night session in Leopoldstrasse, Munich and founded it right the next day. In the subsequent two years, my fellow founding partners Philipp and Christian were working in Germany – initially, it was exactly as you’d imagine, with a home office in an apartment – and I spent 2.5 years in Silicon Valley. Our starting point back then was that we were intent on solving the “We really ought to” problem. Many companies have promising and innovative ideas, but then there comes the point at which they say: “We really ought to digitize this; we really ought to rethink our business model; we really ought to launch a new product onto the market”. Then they fail to execute their ideas and never get beyond the stage of thinking “we really ought to…” This is precisely where we wanted to position ourselves, driven also by our past professional experiences. And we’ve succeeded in doing so ever since. As a result of our methods, our fast and dynamic startup mindset, our digital expertise and an entrepreneurial and execution-oriented approach, we have become digital pioneers in the market who are known to make things happen. The rest is history; we are now entering a new and very exciting phase – incidentally, this idea was also conceived during a late-night session in Munich’s Leopoldstrasse.
What made you decide to become part of the EY Group at this particular point in time?
In the past, one of our greatest strengths was that we’d go to meet clients without huge amounts of sector expertise and were thus able to launch digital projects in a protected space, without bias. This is what made us known as digital pioneers. But the market has continued to evolve rapidly. Companies are no longer focusing on discovering uncharted digital territory, but instead are looking at developing in the long term both newly discovered and validated business models, and with the necessary breadth and depth, as part of their core business. In order to achieve that, we need additional skills and strengths, as regards, for example, specialized sector expertise or organizational issues pertaining to the overall transformation of the business. Particular technological issues such as cyber security are also important, along with the overall capacity to scale up digital initiatives internationally. That’s what we were lacking, and that’s why we came to the realization that, if the impact we want to create as a company is to be sustainable and lasting – if we really want to make a difference – then we have to further develop our thinking in these specific areas. In order to do so quickly, we needed a partner.
Why is EY exactly the right partner?
Once we understood that we needed a partner, we three founders started a process to this effect. We took the time necessary to find just the right partner who’d provide us with an effective framework in which we could take our activities to the next level. We are convinced that EY is exactly this right partner. For one thing, EY is one of the Big Four – the world’s largest auditing and consulting firms – and has an incredibly large amount of sector expertise and experience in fields such as strategy, IoT, smart data, data security, and change management. Our own offer fits optimally into this range of services, and we are able to drive forward digital innovations for companies as well as for entire industry sectors. Moreover, EY has tremendous international influence: multinational clients, and access to global markets, networks, and partners. Of course, it was also important for us to find a partner who shares our values – team spirit and teamwork, openness, respect, enthusiasm for the task at hand, and the ambitious goal of helping to shape the digital future.
Big Four firm joins forces with digital pioneer – is it not a case of two worlds colliding?
The Handelsblatt newspaper quoted Julie Teigland, Regional Managing Partner at EY, as follows: “This is where jeans and business suits meet. I think a combination of the two is ideal.” Sure, we are different, but it’s precisely this diversity that engenders opportunity. Going forward, our clients will have access to very different consulting philosophies under the same roof. It’s therefore important that we retain – as etventure – our DNA and our motivation, and EY is in total agreement. They want to us to keep our own identity. Only by combining the best of both worlds can we develop the consultancy of the future and become a real game changer for our clients.
What are etventure’s plans for the future?
What makes etventure so special is the individuals who work together in this place – their talents and their spirit. We want to retain this culture. That’s why etventure will become part of the EY Group but remain an independent company and brand. All employees will continue to represent etventure in their current functions and positions, and run the business as usual. We founders will also be staying put and will further expand our life’s work as company directors. In that sense, this acquisition is not a classic exit story. On the contrary, we are catapulting etventure into a new orbit, with the difference that – as part of the EY Group – our “airplane” will have all the right resources and control mechanisms on board right from the start. Interested to find out more regarding the background of this partnership and opinions on the matter? Find out more here.