Executive Master in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership (EMDIEL)
Meet the Alumni: Sebastian Daus, Class of 2020

Sebastian Daus - Executive Master in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership Alumnus (Class of 2020) - ESCP Business SchoolAfter studying industrial engineering and technology management, Sebastian worked as a freelance digital consultant. With several startup ideas on his mind, he ventured into the EMDIEL to make one of them come to life: FixFirst, a GreenTech startup.

Why did you choose the Executive Master in Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership to advance your studies?

I was always fascinated by the phenomenon that someone has an idea on how to solve a specific problem and this solution evolves into a major company with real impact. In the past, I was always a small part of that process and felt like I was missing the full picture of the entrepreneurial process from validating an idea to scaling a company and growing with it as a leader. I chose the EMDIEL because the programme takes you through all the stages that are helpful for entrepreneurs, but also goes way beyond, introducing a corporate innovation angle, and opening entrepreneurial ecosystems from Silicon Valley to China.  With the possibility of advancing my own entrepreneurial project while continuing to work full-time, and accessing the international network of the top-ranked ESCP Business School, it wasn’t hard for me to choose the EMDIEL.

Can you tell us about the most difficult challenge that you faced during the programme? How did you overcome it?

The programme constantly takes you out of your comfort zone. During the EMDIEL, we talked to strangers in Shanghai as part of a design challenge and then presented the results to a local CEO in five days. I also pitched my idea to larger crowds while a TED speaker coach constantly challenged me. I believe it’s a better approach to seek out challenges like that rather than staying in your comfort zone - otherwise you’re probably not training your growth muscles enough. And to me, growth is the only constant that matters - personally and in terms of startup traction.

Could you share with us a memorable experience during your EMDIEL that had a significant and lasting impact on your life?

Two things come to mind: First, telling someone about an idea that you're working on is cool and probably most of your friends will clap their hands - but pitching it in front of a real VC in San Francisco who is also a Stanford professor that coaches entrepreneurs around the world and tears apart every single one of your assumptions is definitely something very refreshing and memorable. This experience helped me improve my idea and seek out better feedback. Funniliy enough, said professor is now an advisor to my startup. And second, seeing all the different entrepreneurial ecosystems helped me reflect on what I value here in Europe and demystified most of the buzz around Silicon Valley.

What were the main highlights of the programme for you as an EMDIEL participant?

Listening to founder stories and asking questions firsthand in all different startup ecosystems and from ESCP Alumni were always highlights for me. Additionally, there are a couple of memorable moments like writing a few lines of code in Python that we just learned from Oxford PhDs, the waitress in Shanghai who used the voice translation in WeChat from Chinese to English that worked amazingly well in real-time or our very own first vernissage or the leadership training in virtual reality.

Did the EMDIEL programme help you improve your professional success?If yes, how?

Absolutely. The program builds on fundamental blocks like idea validation, branding, sales, fundraising, product development and technology trends (and more) but focuses on the practical application. For me, all topics around leadership and storytelling helped me a lot - from inspiring people to winning startup pitch events and convincing clients and investors.  My idea evolved into an actual venture-funded startup with a small team and first clients - the program definitely helped me gain the skills, mindset and network that helped achieve this. Personally, it also helped me enjoy and reflect on my entrepreneurial journey and learn more about myself.