Martin Heibel

Martin Heibel

Founder & Managing Director at Ciara

Munich, Germany
Member since August 18, 2019
Founder & Managing Director at Ciara Quote_down
  • About
Investor interests
Locations of interest
Credentials None
WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management Entrepreneurship, Finance
Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München , PhD , Entrepreneurship
Harvard Business School Visiting Researcher

My favorite startups:

Salesforce for reinventing an existing global software market; Slack for their compelling customer value and growth model; Patagonia for their long-term management based on strong core values.

Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

From my days as both a university professor and a sales leader at my former startup, I came to believe that there is a huge disconnect between how thoughtfully we teach and train people, and then how poor we are at providing tools to make that knowledge readily available to them when it’s needed.
At the same time, I see personal digital assistants emerging everywhere in our lives - in our cars, in our home, in the gym...

There is a window of opportunity opening up for companies like us that provide personal assistants for professional conversations. For me, there is no doubt that such assistants have huge benefits and will change the way hundreds of millions of people do their jobs every day.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

What I find the most rewarding is to see how things come together and how small successes can add up to bigger ones. Build the product, convince investors, win customers, have great people join the team, etc.. Every step is a success and what really excites me is how very quickly all these little pieces start forming a much bigger picture, with much bigger potential.

After being an entrepreneur for almost all of my career, I am perfectly fine having a rather high personal failure rate. I don’t get frustrated from trying and not succeeding right away. I will just try again and keep in mind that one little success usually comes at the expense of many more smaller failures - think of how many people you interview before making one offer, how many sales calls you make before winning one deal, etc.

However, what I personally find frustrating is wasting time and fighting innovation inertia. Though it’s a fact in human nature that a very large majority doesn’t want to change the status quo, people avoiding or even fighting change can be very frustrating for me as an entrepreneur.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

I have worked with dozens of startup founders and I believe there is no one most common mistake - just because every startup is so different. I have seen teams fail because of the personalities involved, and have seen entrepreneurs fail because of bad investor choices. Also, no startup breaks because of one mistake, it’s usually a set of topics that don’t work. Finally, I would advise any founder to seek regular advice from people they can learn from and draw their own conclusions from other peoples’ perspectives. I think it’s natural and a part of the entrepreneurial journey to be wrong and make mistakes. Founders should try to identify their own mistakes as early as possible and take a clear stance on how to move forward.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1. Strive for your big, long-term vision, and make sure to take care of operational excellence at the same time.
2. Be a servant leader and stay out of your best people’s way.
3. A success is team success.

Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

For me, there’s one main reason why I chose to be an entrepreneur: autonomy. I always want to be in charge of what I do, how I do it, and who I work with. Entrepreneurship also means responsibility - for the team and for the personal development of each talent I work with. I enjoy building teams of people that get a thrill out of excellent work. This is an opportunity you have especially as an entrepreneur.

Full bio

Heibel has been a technology entrepreneur since starting his career in 2004. First serving as the general manager at the LMU Entrepreneurship Center while earning his Ph.D. in entrepreneurship from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München. 


After immersing himself around entrepreneurs he founded IntraWorlds in 2008, a global provider of innovative cloud-based talent relationship and corporate alumni solutions. He served as managing director for nine years and was able to garner top US based customers such as  KPMG, AT Kearney, Davis Polk, and PWC. He currently still serves on the IntraWorlds advisory board. 


To continue on his entrepreneurial journey, he founded XPRENEURS, an incubator for high-tech startups at UnternehmerTUM, one of the largest centers for innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe, founded by Susanne Klatten. Most recently, he co-founded Ciara in 2019. 


Heibel resides in Munich, Germany and spends his free time with his four children!