“It’s necessary to be very resilient. They’re going to knock you down and you’ll always get back up.”
Philipp Pausder founded Thermondo, one of the German giants in the installation and sales of heating systems, with Florian Tetzlaff and Kristofer Fichtner in 2012. People might have thought he was crazy when he left as marketing head for Adidas or his office as an investment banker. But no longer: he has built a multimillion-euro empire of more than 250 workers and he never doubted he would be successful.
What’s the big innovation that Thermondo brings?
We offer our customers integral solutions in everything related to the selection, installation and repair of heating systems through our webpage. Except for the work of the technicians, everything is digital.
You’ve gone from being three partners in 2012 to having more than 250 employees in just four years. The speed with which you’ve grown is surprising. What’s your secret as entrepreneurs?
It’s necessary to be very resilient, to accept the fact that you’re going to make many mistakes. They’re going to knock you down and you’ll always get back up. Another key thing is that we carefully analyze the way we want to grow before we actually do so. Success also has to do with experience, our professional backgrounds –I’m 40 years old– and this has helped us get to where we are now.
It’s common for companies like Thermondo to be disruptive, and for the big firms to want to put a brake on the revolution they represent. In your case, some energy giants, like E.ON, are supporting you. How is that possible?
The world is changing very quickly. Indeed, I think we can say that it has never changed this fast, and that the big firms feel under great pressure. They’ve tried to create innovation departments and train their workers to be entrepreneurs, but that’s very hard to do if they haven’t been entrepreneurs before, because the culture of an enormous corporation and that of a startup are very different.
There’s an eternal debate about whether formal education is really of use to entrepreneurs. You were able to use the International MBA from IE Business School, where you were a top student in 2008.
I got a lot out of it. For example, I still remember how impressed I was on seeing An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary by Al Gore, in one of the classes. It was then that I understood that the fight against climate change had to involve companies and the capital market.
How have you been able to maintain hope during these years of struggle in such a difficult sector and one that’s so highly regulated as energy in Europe?
I wouldn’t call it hope. I’m a convinced optimist, I’ve never had doubts about the project, and I also have to say that it’s great fun. Thermondo is a great opportunity to do things our way, to defend the values we believe in. We’re a company that’s very conscious of our values.