Philip Staehelin: StartupYard’s New “Executive In Residence”

Anyone in the StartupYard community is probably familiar with Philip Staehelin, who we profiled recently on this blog. Well today, we’re very excited to be able to announce that Staehelin will be joining the StartupYard team officially, as our new “Executive in Residence.”

As accelerators have evolved in recent years, and as StartupYard has grown to encompass more international projects, and helped its startups to secure investments, the need for such a position has been made abundantly clear. As Executive in Residence for 2015, Staehelin will be more than just a mentor to the StartupYard 2015 cohort. He will be a model of an executive for the startups that join the accelerator, and he will take personal initiative to provide valuable, responsive leadership and advice on an ongoing, personal basis with the StartupYard teams. He will compliment and enhance the mentorship that teams will receive throughout the program, and help the startups to follow through on their goals.

Staehelin listens to pitches at December's StartupYard pitch-off.

Staehelin listens to pitches at December’s StartupYard pitch-off.

We believe that Philip is an ideal candidate for this position, not only owing to his stellar resume, and his long experience as an expatriate in The Czech Republic, but also for his valued prior contributions to StartupYard mentorship. Continuity of the StartupYard experience for our alumni and current mentors is an important focus of the accelerator in 2015 and beyond. We must become a resource that continues to support and advocate for the startups that we accelerate, long after they leave our program. A team member whose sole responsibility is the teams themselves, is our answer to that challenge. Staehelin is the man for the job, and we are happy to welcome him to the team.

I caught up with Philip this week, and asked him to comment on how he sees the role he will play going forward. Here is what he had to say:

Why do you think an Executive-in-Residence is an important asset for StartupYard? 

StartupYard is a fantastic accelerator, with an experienced inhouse team and a great assembly of mentors. However, while serving as a mentor for last year’s intake, I felt like some of the startups would have benefited from a bit more “outside” guidance at various stages of the program – not just during the early mentoring sessions. Although it wasn’t part of my mandate, I followed up with a number of the startups during the last few weeks of the program, and when I offered my help to review/critique business cases, business plans, pitches, etc., the offer was always immediately accepted. So… working together with the StartupYard team, we developed the concept of Executive-in-Residence (EIR) that fills this gap on a more formal basis. The startup teams can approach the EIR at any stage of the program and get the help they need to get them to the next level. The StartupYard EIR will also take a longer term perspective, and serve as an external advisor to the teams moving forward – well beyond the timeframe of the actual accelerator program. This will be helpful in making sure the startup teams still have access to assistance as they meet future challenges as they strive to become profitable companies. And finally, the Executive-in-Residence is a new concept for the Czech (perhaps even European?) accelerator landscape, and it should help to differentiate StartupYard from the competition. By substantially increasing a startup’s chance of becoming a viable company with a bright future, StartupYard itself will be able to attract more and more top startups from around Europe to participate in its accelerator program. It’s a win-win-win.


How do you plan to impact the development of StartupYard teams in 2015? 

I’m super excited to pilot the Executive in Residence concept for StartupYard, and to help the 2015 teams to reach their dreams. But before we get to that stage, I’m involved in the startup team evaluation process, and along with the other expert evaluators we hope to pick 10 startups that have the best shot at making the transition to high growth companies. Once we kickstart the 2015 class, I’ll be engaged as necessary – trying not to get in the way of the flow, but making sure teams don’t get stuck along the way. I’ll work with Cedric and the team to identify the early needs of the startup teams, to challenge them on their strategies, to help them digest the messages from mentors, and generally give them helpful advice at the right time during the program. I want to pass along helpful tips from my real life business experience (which ranges from multinational corporations to startups to NGOs) as well as the insights I gained through many years of top management consulting. Some teams may leverage my experience early in the program, and others only when they start looking to approach investors near the end of their time in the program. There will certainly not be a “one size fits all” approach as the teams will differ tremendously in terms of their stage of development, their skill sets, and their experience. My rule of thumb will simply be: if I can help, I will.