‘What does it really mean to win as a startup today?’

3 min read
11 Jul 2019

ccording to Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen, what it means to win as an entrepreneur these days is different from what it used to be. Now, there are new definitions of winning.

SAP Next-Gen headquarters in New York City. Photo: Startup Guide

“What does it really mean to win as a startup today?” asks Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen. 

Originally from Denmark and now based in New York, Ann is a purpose-driven innovation thought leader who travels and speaks globally in support of SAP’s commitment to scale impact for the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

She educates on Innovation 4.0, science-fiction thinking, purpose thinking, experience management and how to adopt new winning strategies. Ann is also the author of several books intended to guide entrepreneurs in the age of the SDGs. 

Set up in 2015 by world leaders from UN member states, the SDGs aim to create a better future by 2030 by confronting issues such as ending widespread hunger and poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring high-quality healthcare and education for everyone. 

Winning is about running a sustainable business, delivering exceptional experiences and making sure that the return is being re-invested into good.

With SAP Next-Gen in Paris and beyond, Ann and her team work to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators in developing impactful solutions to present and future problems.

For Ann, the perception of what it means to win as an entrepreneur or company must evolve, especially if startups and corporates want to achieve the SDGs and unlock profit and social purpose potential for exponential technologies in the process. 

In support of this new definition of what a winning strategy can and should be, Ann is writing her fifth book, What Does It Really Mean to Win?, available in late 2019. The book introduces a new framework for assessing and measuring the impact of innovation. 

While older markers of success, such as profit in the private sector and GDP growth in the public sector, are still explored, Ann believes that new definitions of winning should focus on accelerating solutions for the SDGs and creating exceptional experiences for citizens around the world.

Ann breaks her new winning strategies into how startups develop their products, express their brand experiences and fund their companies. Startups should focus on sustainability in their solutions, start working on their customer, product, brand and employee experiences much earlier, and ensure the storytelling behind the startup reflects purpose and the SDGs. 

“Take care of your startup because it’s part of you,” says Ann. It’s also vital to really understand the intentions of your partners and where funding is coming from. 

“You need to take responsibility for who is funding you. You should share the same values with the people who are partnering and investing in you.” Look at the track records and prior investments of companies who wish to fund your startup, and ensure you want to be associated with those portfolios. 

In Paris, SAP Next-Gen has a broad community for startups to engage with and explore purpose-driven winning strategies. The academic community includes over twenty universities and leading startup accelerators as well as secondary schools. 

[ See also: This Paris-based global incubator shows social founders can be successful ]

SAP Next-Gen supports these community members in fostering future thought-leaders to develop novel models that “innovate with purpose” using SAP’s latest technologies such as machine learning, blockchain, IoT, big data and Qualtrics Experience Management solutions. 

To further their impact, SAP Next-Gen is also rolling out its global gender agenda in Paris and around the country. Through SAP Next-Gen’s global partnership with The Female Quotient, the first FQ Lounge, the Home of Equality @ Campus, opened in 2018 at ESIGELEC as a place for young women to connect, collaborate and become empowered to innovate and create change in the workplace. 

In addition, innovators from across Paris can learn more about intelligent enterprises and experience management at the SAP Leonardo Center and dig into technical and venture education at the SAP.iO Foundries, Funds, and Venture Studios.

No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial and innovative journey, Ann and SAP Next-Gen want to offer new perspectives on winning and driving purpose. 

“It’s not just about earning money anymore,” says Ann. “Winning is about running a sustainable business and making sure that the return is being re-invested into good. You need to ask yourself what makes you really happy and what makes you work? What are you really passionate about, and who are you winning for? Your winning strategy should be aligned with that.”

Main photo by Startup Guide