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Interview with Marc Grünenfelder

The critical mirror

It is important for us to question ourselves and our actions from time to time. For this purpose, we have defined the role of the mentor, who critically reflects on us with his outside view coupled with a great deal of experience and expertise. Fortunately we were able to win Marc Grünenfelder for this role. With his background as a lawyer and his experience on the corporate side, but especially because of his sharp and critical thinking he is a good fit for the Circleg team. We talked with Marc about his role, potential and challenges as well as his view on Project Circleg.

What do you find exciting about Project Circleg?

Marc: There are various things. First of all, the composition of the team. Each team member is very dedicated, skilled and has a unique personality. It is absolutely exciting to see in which way the project develops step by step. To accompany a project and business idea which initially came out of a bachelor thesis and shall develop into a productive and operative business with such talented and sophisticated young people is very enriching, motivating and a unique opportunity. Second, the project itself. Project Circleg is a so-called Social Impact Business which pursues a business model based on a holistic approach. The project development including the business modelling combines the mandatory high-quality requirements of a medical device such as a prosthetic system, a sophisticated design thinking, the required and appropriate approach of financial profitability, social responsibility, and – last but not least – the project brings in the whole environmental aspect, aims for a circular economy and creates added value for people and the local society. The idea, the motivation and the energy that goes into it are simply great. With these components it is definitely worthwhile to support the project.

Where do you see the greatest potential of the project?

Marc: There are different levels: On the one hand there is the economic aspect; there is a great need, the market is there, and you have a product that meets all criteria. The second aspect is the social, societal and the added value that can be achieved. In addition, another valuable aspect is that the team thinks and acts in a holistic way. The business model is not primarily focused on maximizing profits, but rather on aspects such as the environment as well as social and societal aspects. In a nutshell, the project itself and the holistic business model are in my personal opinion a great example for a new age business model and, last but not least, have a great potential as a role model for a Social Impact Business Model.

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Where do you see the biggest challenge for Project Circleg?

Marc: It is the same with every project in the starting phase: whether the power that you hope for can really be put on the road. And that in the end you generate the return you need to invest and develop further. Fact is, that the project has a wide range of complexity: aspects including but not limited to a long term and challenging product and material development of a medical device, market entry within foreign countries and unknown markets, substantial financial investments and partnership issues, recruiting of skilled employees, issues regarding the adequate legal and corporate structure and organisation, a lot of legal issues and regulations related thereto, finally, building everything from scratch. These are obstacles that must first be overcome. But we are not the first to do so, and I am convinced that with this skilled team composition, the existing spirit and with the required focus, there is a high probability that we will succeed and that our dream will come true.

Where do you see your contribution as a mentor for Project Circleg?

Marc: I see myself as a complementary part for the operational people in our team. As entrepreneur and corporate lawyer with a profound finance and executive management background I am able to support the team within a wide range of economic and business and legal related topics. In addition, I would say that we – all together – build an even greater complementary team. Experience shows that beside the strong expertise of each of the team members the difference shall be often made by having the right team consistency. To give you an example, everybody in the core team loves cooking, good food and wine, has a great heart and is dedicated to the work combined with many other important soft skills. In this sense, what could you wish more for?

What does the cooperation with the team currently look like?

Marc: We meet and exchange information on a regular basis, at least once a month, on average even twice. In case of urgent and extraordinary queries, I am available at short notice.

What do you think is necessary to build a Social Impact Business such as Project Circleg in a successful way?

Marc: I would say it requires a great bouquet of particulars such as idealism, a hint of naivety, a great deal of persistence, professional expertise and a strong focus on the set goal – and – last but not least, much of dedication and love. Further, it is most important to stay tuned on the product and the business development and to reflect and challenge the chosen path in every moment in order to optimize the product and the credo of the Social Impact Business. In addition, be aware that there is a great temptation in the start-up world to lose the sight of the focus. The more success and publicity you have the more distraction you are faced with. There is a mass of possibilities and opportunities that arises whereby the risk is that in the end, you are everywhere and yet nowhere. Focus and dedication to the goals are key. We often discuss that. Last but not least, we certainly also need a good portion of luck to achieve in the end the wished success.

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