Stefanie Langer Founder of Bridge-it connects businesses in Ireland and Germany and more broadly to German speaking countries. We help our clients to find new markets and customers for their products and services and to develop relationships with new suppliers. This means researching, finding, connecting. When we have established those connections, we help companies with their people aspects, supporting our clients in finding the right local resources and training their teams for leadership.
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
Bridge-it is in a niche business. I am not aware of anyone else offering exactly the same service than I do. The idea was born out of the Brexit discussions and the potential opportunities and consequences for Ireland. As a German living in Ireland, I consider myself a European citizen and I wanted to use my skills to strengthen European cooperation. I saw a gap for linking businesses with new markets. Bridge-it wants to bridge those gaps!
Give a brief account of your background.
I was born in Germany and worked as a HR executive in both Germany and Denmark. Prior to my move to Ireland, I established my own business in Germany, assisting a variety of organisations with HR strategy in sectors including financial services, e-commerce, automotive and IT. My experience has given me insight into different industry and I have assisted companies to grow from start-up to medium enterprises. I am a consultant, certified coach and trainer.
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
Yes, my father was a very successful entrepreneur. When I was young, I promised myself never to become an entrepreneur as I saw the toll on our family life. Never say never: Look at me now! I try to keep the balance between personal and professional life.
Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?
In my business it’s not about industry, its’ about people. I worked for Nokia and we had the slogan ‘Connecting people’ and this is what I do. Decisions are made by individuals. I listen to my clients’ needs, develop a strategy to reach their goals and introduce this to my clients’ target groups.
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
In Ireland, particularly, you need to get out there and talk to people. Doing this, I developed my networking skills further. I felt so much support. A lot of contacts connected me and this way, I grew my business. From past experiences I learned that it is important to deliver a good quality service. If you do that, people will recommend your work and this way, you will naturally grow your business.
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
Knowing my business purpose, passion for people and business, opportunity mindset, win-win mentality
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs rely on networks. Networks provide small entrepreneurs with information, education and marketing opportunities. Starting out, an entrepreneur has to be the salesperson, buyer, accountant, innovator, production manager. The connections that Professional networks allow to experts and information is invaluable. They also connect like-minded people and provide a platform for exchange and support between colleagues.
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Believe in your offering. If it doesn’t work at the start, reconsider your approach and adjust.