Munich: maximilian wuhr’s start-up is valued at 500 million – munich

Munich: maximilian wuhr's start-up is valued at 500 million - munich

Who knows what kind of business Maximilian Wuhr would have started if the car salesmen in California hadn't been such a pain in his ass. "Everyone was trying to rip me off," he recalls of the semester abroad at Berkeley, "I'm not a car person, had little money and just wanted a car for a while, see some of the area." A 2006 Ford Mustang was purchased for $2,500. Sounds great, but: "The worst buying experience of my life!", scolds Wuhr. All kinds of things were broken: catalytic converter, fuel tank, trunk, and it was raining in through a hole in the roof that had been patched with tape. The repairs: absurdly expensive, 1000 dollars he should pay. Wuhr asked: "What exactly costs what?? I want a cost breakdown!"He didn't get it, so they sent him to the next repair shop. In the end, the repair cost 300 dollars.

The then 20-year-old drew motivation from that experience: "I knew: This could be better, easier, more digital," he says today, seven years later. And lo and behold, things got better. All the better that Wuhr with his car subscription company Finn is now one of the "30 under 30", the most promising U30 people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland according to Forbes magazine. In three years, the start-up became a 100-million-euro business. Insiders estimate the company at 500 million euros. In words: five hundred million. With 27.

Office with a view of Manhattan: He wants to gain a foothold in the U.S. market

Maximilian Wuhr looks a good deal younger when you speak to him via video call. Wearing a hoodie, he sits in the midtown Manhattan office on Park Avenue South, just north of Madison Square Park. "Quite a nice neighborhood," says the Chief Growth Officer of the company, which is headquartered at Prinzregentenplatz in Munich. A year ago they opened the New York branch, and two months ago Wuhr moved over permanently for the time being. "Munich is the city I want to grow old in," says the twen, "but I want to make sure we build a profitable, good-growing business in the U.S. for the long term. I'll be here for as long as it takes."The plan is to stay six to twelve months, but as fast as this guy is, he should soon be back in his Schwabing apartment with his wife. He has already married, of course. He says, "I sometimes joke that I'm doing things at the wrong speed. I take my time with private purchasing decisions, but I have more energy when it comes to things I'm sure about."

For the past three years, he has been putting his power into Finn, his company that rents out vehicles for a fixed monthly price and takes care of repairs, insurance and vehicle taxes. An all-round carefree package, a bit more expensive, but much more flexible than leasing. On the website, it sounds like, "We make driving with Finn as easy as buying shoes on the Internet. An instant, flexible car subscription from your favorite brands. Everything is included except for refueling. With the completely digital process, you not only save time and effort, but also costs. No annoying workshop visits, no hidden costs." Sounds too good to be true, but seems to work: From four million euros in 2020, sales have risen to more than 100 million euros.

The customer chooses between 40 models from 25 manufacturers, from the Fiat 500 (from 309 per month) to the Audi Q7 (1439 euros). Delivered to the front door. The German fleet already comprises more than 15,000 vehicles. Other advantages: Cancellation periods of just 30 days, plus the chance to switch brands and models. Or to try out an electric car without having to put tens of thousands of euros on the table. "That's how I convinced my parents to buy an electric car," says Wuhr. More than 30 percent of the German fleet already consists of e-cars; by 2030, Finn wants to offer only electric cars, and the CO2 emissions of the fleet will be compensated: "We want to help accelerate the change to e-cars. Many are afraid of this changeover – we offer the longest test drive: six or twelve months, no residual value fears, no worries about the battery. Simply try out whether e-mobility suits you."

"On the pulse of the times," raves a professor at UnternehmerTUM

The clientele is on average 37 years old – a highly attractive clientele for the car industry, which is currently struggling: Chip crisis, supply bottlenecks, long delivery times, massively increased costs and potential buyers with less and less money in their pockets – so you can think about such a Netflix model for the car. Helmut Schonenberger, honorary professor specializing in entrepreneurship practice and CEO of UnternehmerTUM, the start-up center of the Technical University of Munich, enthuses: "Finn has its finger on the pulse of the times, recognized new customer needs in the area of mobility early on and developed a clever business model for it. We are happy to be able to accompany Finn not only financially, but also on a personal level."

Of course, it doesn't work without support. With the help of investors and six-figure loans, Wuhr and his three co-founders have expanded the fleet. Although they are still making losses, Wuhr is proud of one thing: "In Germany, we have always grown profitably, despite the recession, and have made money with every car and every customer."That is now also the goal in the U.S. "In Germany, we grew very quickly, but the relative growth curve flattens out at some point. Then you look to Austria and Switzerland: not so exciting. USA? A market five times bigger, but still no company doing it like we do! Now we are growing twice as fast here as in Germany." They already have a presence in twelve states, and around 40 employees work for Finn in the USA.

He actually wanted to be a researcher

Wuhr, who grew up in Bad Kotzting in the Bavarian Forest, actually wanted to become a researcher, but moved to Munich after graduating from high school (at 17, because he skipped a grade): "That was the big, wide world for me back then, which I find very funny in retrospect. But Munich as a city is great! Worth living in, this largest village in the world."He has a student pad on Hohenzollernstrasse, he's studying biochemistry at the TU, but realizes: nothing for me! "Lab work can be dull," he says, "I always wanted to talk to everyone, but they wanted to focus on work."At Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, he switched to economics and took an additional course in technology management at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) on Marsstrasse. Wuhr enthuses, "The CDTM has the highest Unicorn density of any university program in the world!"

And it has fancy cooperation partners: Berkeley, for example, where Wuhr is taking business and computer science courses and thinks he's on his way into the world of finance. Back in Munich, he works as a company builder for a venture capital firm – but ends up somewhere else entirely: "I built and supported start-ups for three years. Then I wanted to do something myself. Only what? I asked myself: What was my worst buying experience?? The Mustang!" Here's how Finn came to be.

The name is not a shortcut, the four founders simply liked it. "A company of friends had picked a first name as the company name – we found that congenial, human. So we looked at the list of the most popular US first names and decided on number three: Finn, which was the name of one of the Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars movie at the time."

And what kind of car does the Chief Growth Officer drive over in New York?? "None at all in Manhattan," he reveals, "you don't really need one in Munich either." Nevertheless, he has an e-car at home, for the trip to his parents, to the Bavarian Forest. "There, I can plug in with my mom and dad. After all, the electricity is only enough for the one-way trip."But we have also been working on that for a long time.

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