Masterclass Berlin: The Customer-funded Business with John Mullins: Who needs investors anyways?

24 Oct 2017

More than two generations ago, the venture capital community – VCs, business angels, incubators and others – convinced the entrepreneurial world that writing business plans and raising venture capital constituted the twin centrepieces of entrepreneurial endeavour. They did so for good reasons: the sometimes-astonishing returns they’ve delivered to their investors and the astonishingly large companies that their ecosystem has created. But most fast-growing companies never take any venture capital. So where does the money come from to start and grow their companies? Or yours?

In The Customer-Funded Business, John Mullins identifies five novel approaches that scrappy and innovative 21st century entrepreneurs have ingeniously adapted from their predecessors like Dell, Gates, and the Zieglers.

Who should attend?

The Masterclass is intended for those who want to evaluate potential funding sources, whether you already have investors or are looking to start. For most companies, fast-growing or otherwise, the early funding comes from a much more agreeable and hospitable source than the venture capital community; their customers. This Masterclass will help you with starting, financing, or growing your business.

Participants should be able to pitch their existing business ideas in front of an audience. Accelerator participants from all stages are welcome to apply.

This Masterclass will be open to a maximum of 40 participants, so register early!


Drawing on more than two years of in-depth research into the customer-funded phenomenon, and through the captivating stories of these and other companies from around the world, John Mullins brings to life the five models and identifies the questions that angel or other investors will – and should! – ask, and he addresses the key implementation issues that characterize each of the models: when to apply them, how best to apply them, and the pitfalls to watch out for. You can expect to dive into the following models:

  • Matchmaker models (for example, the US companies Airbnb and DogVacay)
  • Pay-in-advance models (the USA’s Threadless, India’s Via and Loot)
  • Subscription models (India’s TutorVista, the USA’s H.Bloom)
  • Scarcity models (Spain’s Zara, France’s Vente Privée, the USA’s Gilt Groupe)
  • Service-to-product models (Denmark’s GoViral, Puerto Rico’s Rock Solid).

The Masterclass will help you decide which model is right for you and how to get your funding started. John Mullins is a sought-after speaker to audiences around the world on entrepreneurship, on growing one’s business, and on starting and financing high-potential entrepreneurial ventures. This is one of our most highly-rated Masterclasses ever!


  • Date: 24 & 25 October, 2017
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Led by: John Mullins


Please register individually for this Masterclass. You can register here.

Climate-KIC start-ups and select programme participants/special invitees have free access to this Masterclass. Travel costs will be reimbursed by Climate-KIC up to 200 euros per person. Costs must be submitted within 15 days of the end of the Masterclass for reimbursement. All participants must pay and arrange their own accommodation. Please note that there is a 500-euro no-show fine for this Masterclass.

Tuition Fee

For those not following the Climate-KIC Acceleration Programme (or associated Climate-KIC programmes), the tuition fee for this Masterclass is 950 euros per person. This includes lunch on both days and a networking dinner on the first night.

Please wait with arranging your travels until you have received your official confirmation of participation per email.

Led by John Mullins

An award-winning teacher and scholar and one of the world’s foremost thought leaders in entrepreneurship, John brings to his teaching and research 20 years of executive experience in high-growth retailing firms, including two ventures he founded and one he took public. 

Since becoming an entrepreneurship professor in 1992, John has published five books, dozens of cases and more than 50 articles in a variety of outlets, including Harvard Business Review, the MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Wall Street Journal. His research has won national and international awards from the Marketing Science Institute, the American Marketing Association, and the Richard D. Irwin Foundation. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker and educator for audiences in entrepreneurship and venture capital. 

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