An Interview with Bernhard Winter, Forbes (Europe 2019) Science & Healthcare

Bruno (HE) Mirchevski
Sep 26 · 8 min read

(#00045) — Believe in yourselves and in your vision. If you really want to achieve something — then you can do it!

  1. Who is Bernhard Winter?
  2. Forbes 30 Under 30
  3. What is Scewo?
  4. Best And Worst Parts of Being Young And Succesful
  5. Important Principles in a Co-Founder’s Relationship
  6. Most Important Things For a Healthy Work Environment
  7. Things You Are Not Doing But Should Be
  8. Essential Habits
  9. Future Plans
  10. Final Piece of Advice

It’s not enough to only have an idea. You need to find the right ways to turn in into reality. To do that, you have to commit yourself fully and direct all of your effort to the cause. Quitting is not an option.

Today, you are going to read about the success story of a young man with an idea and the right mindset that turned it into reality.

Meet Bernhard Winter, a 25-year-old entrepreneur. He is the CEO and co-founder of Scewo, which is an ETH spin-off, based in Winterthur, founded in 2017 by the previous student project “Scalevo”.

The idea behind Scewo was initially introduced as a project by ten ETH and ZHdK students in 2014, to develop a stair-climbing and self-balancing wheelchair.

Today, the company counts 17 employees who are working on their first marketable model of a wheelchair, which will make previously unreachable places accessible to people with limited mobility.

Scewo AG has already received several awards for its work, most recently the ZKB Pioneer Prize 2018, the Red Dot best of the best 2019, and the IF Design Award 2019.

Thanks to the efforts put into developing the company and the idea behind it, Bernhard Winter earned a place on Forbes’s “30 Under 30 Europe 2019: Science & Healthcare” list.

This is his success story, and I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Hi Bernhard, and welcome to this interview! Before anything else, I would like to thank you for being a part of this mission! Do you mind introducing yourself? Who is Bernhard Winter? What was the reason for choosing your current career?

I already experimented and developed small robots in my childhood.

During my studies, my interest turned into a passion and so I developed a measuring device for a company together with a colleague.

Later I’ve tried to build my own quadrocopter from the ground up — and it worked!

But as a child, I never thought that I would bring a stair-climbing wheelchair onto the market one day.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for being among Forbes 30 under 30! Was this is a dream come true? What do you believe contributed the most to this success?

Well, thank you. To be honest, I knew Forbes before the award, but I hadn’t been aware of what kind of impact such an award would have.

I think that this award was, above all, a reward for our courage. The courage to break new ground in an established market and to question the status quo in all aspects.

Now, I would like to talk more about Scewo. What exactly is Scewo? How did you and the other co-founders come up with the business idea? What makes your company different from any other company in the field?

Scewo is a team of highly motivated people with different skills who want to develop probably the coolest wheelchair in the world.

For my graduation, I wanted to build a robot that could balance itself independently when riding on two wheels and additionally could climb stairs.

My professor said that I should put a seat on it so that the device could be used. This is how the idea of the semi-autonomous and stair-climbing wheelchair arose. In a team of ETH and ZhdK students, we then developed the first prototype.

We received many purchase inquiries from all over the world after a video publication on YouTube. This made us aware of the potential of our device, so we founded the company in 2017.

Today, two years later, we are on the verge of series production and market entry in Switzerland. Germany and Austria will follow in 2020. Expansion into other countries will follow step by step according to demand.

We are mixing up the wheelchair market anew by acting completely different in various aspects. We create a device that makes previously inaccessible places accessible, thanks to an agile driving mode and stair climbing function.

We create a device that meets today’s demands in point of modern design. We present ourselves fresh, transparent and accessible and create new experiences for interested parties.

According to you, what are the best and worst parts about having a successful business at a relatively young age? Please explain.

Look, when you’re young, you lack experience and you act a little naive in certain situations.

That’s good because otherwise, you wouldn’t try things that you think are too difficult to solve.

You’re not biased by previous experiences, but take one challenge at a time. That is fun.

How hard it is to run a company along with two other people? How important it is for the co-founders of one company to know each other for a long time before they start a business together? What are the most important principles in co-founders relationship?

Well, three people bring much more ideas around for discussion. This is also a challenge because, in the end, you have to go one way together.

I’m not sure whether it’s very important to know each other for a long time beforehand. Of course, there are advantages: You know how the other one works and whether it matches your own style.

But I think that it is the puzzle of different characters that makes you successful.

The most important thing is that you have to be completely honest so that you can trust each other. If there is a problem between the co-founders the company will have a problem as well.

How would you describe a healthy working environment and why? When working in a team, what are the five utmost important things that everyone should have in mind?

We all work hard. People who work hard also need enough free time to recover. That’s why it’s important to me that our employees can take time outs, for example, to go to sports.

But our employees are responsible for knowing when they are productive and when they should take a break.

I think it’s great when you can come up with ideas. No matter if you work in the software and present the hardware team an idea “out of the box”.

Even if it may not be a feasible solution, you can inspire your colleagues and get them ahead in the thinking process. It is also part of appreciation to support others with one’s own resources.

Then communication certainly also constitutes good cooperation; listening well and giving honest and fair feedback.

What hard thing are you not doing enough? What easy thing are you doing too much?

I should rather take care of the team growth, look for new superpowers and hire them.

Instead, I keep programming for the device to improve it. Well, it’s just my ‘baby’ that I want to push forward.

How do you spend the first few hours of every day? Which habits are important to develop? Why?

I’m usually the first one in the office. That is when I enjoy the silence to program something for the wheelchair by myself.

When the entire software team is on-site, I’m part of their sprint meeting, asking critical questions to get the team moving. I observe that setting up meetings becomes a habit — that should be improved.

Too often, you discuss issues that would actually be resolved very quickly. I would appreciate it if someone sends me a mail with the problem and an initial solution proposal. If the challenge is more complex than expected, the best solution can still be worked out in a short discussion.

Where do you see yourself and your company 10 years from now? Are there any milestones you want to reach by then?

In ten years our wheelchair has established itself worldwide and can hopefully offer even more than today.

Of course, we are thinking about a wheelchair that drives autonomously.

Maybe there will be more Scewo products until then; we got many ideas, but we still leave that open.

Last but not least, what is your advice for the people who struggle to enter the business world?

Believe in yourselves and in your vision. If you really want to achieve something — then you can do it!

If you are passionate about something, the only way to achieve all of your goals is by being determined and hard working.

To do that, you need to believe in yourself and your ideas. They are a powerful tool that can change the world for the better.

Let this story inspire you to have faith in yourself, and do everything in your hands not only to improve your life but always selflessly strive to improve others’ as well.

“The Mission to Empower 1 Million Entrepreneurs”

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The Logician

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Bruno (HE) Mirchevski

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The Logician (Dreamer) 👁️ Don’t follow me. I am lost too!😎 Founder of HE Group - (Investor) 📈

The Logician

The Official Publication of The Logician

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