Interview with Prof. Dr. Malte Brettel

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Prof. Brettel: My name is Malte Brettel, I’m the entrepreneurship professor here at RWTH Aachen University. My background is in Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration, I have worked as a consultant and especially then afterwards worked as an entrepreneur and pursued my academic career. I had the privilege to do both: build my entrepreneurial companies – some successful, some not successful – and right now I am one of the professors here teaching that topic and I am very much looking forward to our new masters.

What does entrepreneurship mean for you?

Prof. Brettel: First of all, entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and acting. We are facing large changes in our society; the technological change is huge right now. That means we are facing uncertainty, we don’t know what the world of tomorrow will look like. Facing that uncertainty also means that entrepreneurs have to cope with that, entrepreneurs have to have the ability to learn in these settings, to do the right experiments and draw the right conclusions. To some extent, this is entrepreneurial thinking and acting. Entrepreneurship means to think and act like an entrepreneur, to be able to cope with the uncertainty – and this applies to the setting of an already established company as well as to entrepreneurs building their own companies.

"Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and acting."

Can entrepreneurship actually be learned?

Prof. Brettel: Lots of studies show that entrepreneurs are not born, but made, which is also common understanding nowadays. We teach entrepreneurship, we teach the entrepreneurial way of thinking and acting, based on that, we teach leans to other methods and all sorts of learning methods and so on. So yes, for sure – entrepreneurship can be taught and can be learned.

How does your experience as an entrepreneur translate into the classroom?

Prof. Brettel: Well, in my entrepreneur endeavors I have been going through all the ups and downs entrepreneurs have. I like to combine two elements: my theoretical insights of nowadays, which I gain doing research, with all my practical experience. So I have learned where I have made my mistakes, and I teach my students not to make these mistakes and I try to combine that with my theoretical knowledge. This is basically how I teach entrepreneurship.

What is so special about studying entrepreneurship at RWTH Business School?

Prof. Brettel: The unique selling point of our M.Sc. Technology Entrepreneurship is that, on the one hand, we are teaching entrepreneurship, which every Business School can do, and on the other hand we have all the facilities for potential entrepreneurs to develop companies. We start with an incubation facility, and then we give every entrepreneur the possibility to do prototyping, we help them build prototypes, we have technological expertise within one of the 500 colleagues in the technology fields here in Aachen and we have very entrepreneurial people to complement entrepreneurial teams. The ground work to incubate companies is already been done, and now the students are invited to come learn entrepreneurship and work on their entrepreneurial ideas at the same time. I think that is pretty unique.

What are your expectations for the M.Sc. Technology Entrepreneurship?

Prof. Brettel: My expectation is to get students from all over the world into our classroom and out of our classroom into world-class companies. I am very much looking forward to working with my students; to do the first steps. And afterwards I am looking forward to developing all of those companies that emerge out of our classroom and our entrepreneur activities, as we have seen before in other classes.

Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?

Prof. Brettel: My advice for future entrepreneurs is to be able to think and act like an entrepreneur. First of all you have to have the ability and the openness to learn and every entrepreneur should look at what is going on around him. You have to learn how to cope with the uncertainty, where the uncertainty comes from and then try to use this for your own business in order to be able to learn faster than all of the others, be better than all of the others and by that build a great company.

You want to know more about our brand new M.Sc. Technology Entrepreneurship (TENT)? Please follow this link.

rundes Portrait von Prof. Malte Brettel

Prof. Dr. Malte Brettel
Head of Chair
Innovation and Entrepreneurship;
Academic Director
M.Sc. Technology Entrepreneurship