A story of a SAP PLM Consultant turning into a Global Helicopter Producer

Last week I was hosting together with Les Hayman the ‘AtelierSAP’ Annual Summit in Amsterdam.
AtelierSAP is the Davos Forum for Ex SAP Executives who are interested in learning new things, sharing ideas, projects and who simply want to re-connect. It‘s all about business and some fun, of course. The AtelierSAP members are active shakers and movers in start ups and Fortune 1000 companies around the globe.

IMG_6529During the two days I enjoyed inspiring presentations from top executives such as Jim Hagemann Snabe, now Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and a serial Supervisory Board Member as well as Nick van Dam, Chief Learning Officer at McKinsey. Then there were these truly refreshing Millennial entrepreneurs such as Climeworks‘ Co-Founder Christoph Gebald and Teenage Entrepreneur Josh Valman. Last but not least, hopeful start ups such as the founders of Hunite and Insinno; two hot tech ventures. However, there was ONE presentation which struck me personally for various reasons.

It was the unassuming presentation from Daniel Schultheiss who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Marenco Swisshelicopters. It was a story about dreams, passion and a strong belief that nothing is impossible. It was a story about a mid-career employee of a Fortune 500 company who took on a challenge not even the fearless Millennials would dare to take up.IMG_6066

Daniel, a typical mid-career employee working for SAP as a PLM (Product Life Cycle Management) consultant, had a strong passion for flying and parachuting. One day he decided to take his dream and give it wings. He went on to build a great company from scratch in an industry everybody would say it’s not possible, too difficult, or simply stupid. 2007 was the start of a dream that became real.

The first thing Daniel and his co-founder did was to build a simple business plan. He eluded during his remarks that the Helicopter Industry is a very organized industry and only a handful of well-known manufacturers control the market so it’s easy to frame it and find your niche.

The second step was to raise capital. Well, you can imagine it’s not the classical seed funding needed to launch your next-door start up. Daniel knew that he needed massive amounts of funding to start building the first Swiss made helicopter. It takes years to go from initial design to building, certifying, and ultimately having a flying machine. Daniel and his partner were able to secure the required funding in no time. They managed to find a large financial group that shared the same passion for flying. For those in the IT industry he used SAP Visual Enterprise to design the helicopter.

The third step was participating in air shows around the world and selling literally a non-existing helicopter, a helicopter only on paper. Well, long story short, he sold more than 80 Helicopters at an average price of 3 Mil USD before the helicopter was able to be certified and lift off.

Today the Marenco Swisshelicopter Company is the result of combining the engineering expertise of MARENCO Ltd and a team of highly qualified helicopter specialists, pilots and aviation experts. Their passion was to develop, build and commercialize a new concept of light turbine helicopter.

With this industrial visionary concept, Marenco Swisshelicopter Ltd developed a new generation of helicopters, built with a design that concentrates on the key notion of competitive superiority, modularity, advanced ergonomics and choice of materials. The resulting requirements were extremely demanding in terms of multi-mission capability, agility, speed, range and ease of maintenance.

Now they are introducing the only helicopter in the 2.5 metric ton class to combine a full-composite fuselage, an advanced bearing-free rotor system with 5-blades, an electronically governed engine and a glass-cockpit. SKYe SH09 embodies the future of helicopters.

Daniel’s story is a true story of passion and belief. It’s a story to take on any challenge, keep dreams alive and get the impossible done no matter if it’s life or business.