APX Voices
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APX Voices

Illustration by Lilliana Lee Chung

Getting big things done: Turning dreams into reality

Illustration by Lilliana Lee Chung
  1. What does success look like?
  2. How do we get there?

Recurring Process

Frequencies are essential when it comes to building organizations. When you are working on your strategy and tactic too often, you get nothing done, and when you never take a few steps back and work on the bigger picture, you might do the wrong thing. Good companies have rhythms on when they focus on strategy and execution. Your company’s speed is determined by your ability to develop a plan, execute it, and adapt to the reality you create.

Relevant Participants

Define the stakeholders you want (must, and should) include in the process. During ideation and at the very beginning of a startup’s journey, The strategy is typically established by founders only. Then, over time, the composition of relevant participants in strategy meetings changes. In a larger, more mature organization, the COO might establish and implement a new sales strategy with the Head of Sales. You get the idea.

  1. Existing investors should be 100% on your side. As incentives (i.e., a significant exit) are aligned, they should have your best interest in mind. Why are they relevant in the first place even though you might be the industry expert? Because investors are good at recognizing patterns. After having screened hundreds and having invested in dozens of companies, investors can observe what strategies typically work and which do not. Get them to share their experiences with you.
  2. Potential future investors are talking to you because they see a possible opportunity in what you’re presenting. Yet, you haven’t gotten there. Like existing investors, they know what strategies have worked for others entering the next fundraising stage. Also, getting them invested in your idea, and strategizing early how the opportunity you’re presenting could turn into a chance you’re jointly capturing, brings you a big step closer to them investing.
  3. Mentors should be a no-brainer. Try to find people who are not just giving advice but share experiences. They’re an excellent resource for sparring, avoiding mistakes, reality checks, and identifying shortcuts.


The development of a strategy is close to project management (for which there is already enough literature out there). You have different stages and need to hold yourself accountable for specific milestones. Although a strategy is intangible, try to develop a set of (quantifiable) hypotheses and analyze feedback and data on the proposed measures. While developing, this allows you to refine your approach and hone into an optimal strategy given the available information. Create learning loops. In the end, synthesize the individual strings into one consistent plan.


A little bit of meta work is essential. Your goals and strategies do not need to be a massive pile of slides, but in our experience, it is very beneficial to document what you do to communicate it with each other and your stakeholders. And when you talk to investors, they also are interested in how you work and how you do what you do. Using the “real stuff,” meaning the documents you actually work with, is usually a lot better than preparing extra documentation for them later.


This sounds easy: Just make sure you use the optimal formats to document your work results. As you will be producing qualitative and quantitative hypotheses and models, you will need various formats to document the process, products, and progress. This is not rocket science: Usually, a business plan is a spreadsheet. If you visualize something, it is either text or graphs. :-) There is quite a lot of format inspiration available online. Remember: this is about content, not form. Maybe an easy to understand format helps, but if you spend more time generating and designing documents than thinking or discussing them, something is wrong.

Model by J. Rheinboldt / S. Schwahlen. Illustration by Jasmin Zimmermann.

Strategic Decisions

This is a tricky one. In your company’s early days, you can make tons of decisions, and many of them might change fast. This speed and attitude are essential to building a winning company quickly. Testing, winning, and failing fast are very important to be successful. Strategic decisions are the ones that have a tendency to shape or influence your company for a longer time or are harder to reverse or change. These decisions are worth getting a little more brainpower or ‘computing-time’ than other choices you will make. The name of your company, the business model and particular revenue streams, hiring of key team members, and choosing your investors are all decisions that are harder to reverse than others. Do not let them slow you down, but develop the awareness, when to think a bit deeper, and ask yourself a few more times: and then?

Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Strategic Goals

Purpose. Vision. Mission. Goals. Grand words with even grander meanings and direct impact on any proposed strategy. Opinions differ when it comes to the exact definition of each term. Some would argue that vision and mission are just two sides of the same coin. We disagree and will try to explain our thoughts and use short examples of our own purpose, vision, and mission statement.

So what now?

Do you have a strategy? Do you know what your success looks like? Do you have a clear idea of how to get there? We work on our strategy at least every quarter. We don’t change it massively, but we continuously adapt and clarify based on the learnings while executing. If you are interested in learning more about us, check out our website, meet us at our online events, and meet us at in-person events (this is harder right now due to COVID-19). If you are interested in working with us on your strategy, execution, and potential shortcuts: send us your pitch deck here, and our investment team will be in touch shortly. Learn more about how you can find out if there is a fit between you and us here.



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Joerg Rheinboldt

serial starter, APX.ac Axel Springer Porsche MD, Bahlsen Board, betterplace.org co-founder, Berliner Stadtmission, tech enthusiast. joerg.campsite.bio