EP 14 – Entrepreneurship, Investment, and the Art of Guanxi with Erik Schäfer

EP 13 – Entrepreneurship, Investment, and the Art of Guanxi with Erik Schäfer  

Erik Schäfer

Episode Stream


In this episode (recorded in November 2019), we introduce Erik Schäfer, serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, and part of WHU’s first graduating class of 1988. This guy has done some stuff. From founding a consultancy while in uni to linking German capital to early Silicon Valley companies, from building mines in Australia to greenhouses in China, Erik is one of WHU’s true O.G. entrepreneurs.
Today we’re discussing Erik’s rich and fascinating founder journey, learning about his approach to building an adventurous entrepreneurial life, and squeezing as much wisdom and lessons as we can out of one interview alone. So for you listeners who want to learn from an entrepreneurial journey that spans a full four decades, this episode is for you! Hope you enjoy it!


Erik Preview Intro (00:04) 
Part 1: Introducing Erik Schäfer (00:41) 
Part 2: Erik’s Founder Story (02:30) 
Part 3: Why Become an Entrepreneur (05:13) 
Part 4: 1990s: MedTech Investments in Silicon Valley (09:31) 
        Music Interlude (11:40) 
Part 5: Lessons Learned from the First Dot Com Bubble (13:50) 
Part 6: The 2000s: Mining Investments in Australia (17:50)
Part 7: Lessons Learned from the Great Recession (22:11)
        Music Interlude (24:30)
Part 8: The Early 2010s: Renewable Energy Investments in Scandinavia (25:30)
Part 9:  The Late 2010s: Building Greenhouses in China (29:45) 
Part 10: Knowing What You Have and What You Need (32:33)
Part 11: Guanxi: The Art of Building Relationships in Business  (35:08) 
        Music Interlude (37:50) 
Part 12: Learning from His Greatest Mistakes (38:50)
Part 13: Debt Versus Equity Financing (47:51)
Part 14: Memorable Metaphors for Aspiring Entrepreneurs (51:21)
        Music Interlude (55:45) 
Part 15: Book on Erik’s Bedside Table (56:19) 
Part 16: What’s on Erik’s Playlist (58:44)
Part 17: Episode 14 Preview (1:00:05)