Creating a Startup while Pursuing my Master's degree
Master of Finance / 15 February 2021
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Master of Finance Class of 2020
While pursuing a Master of Finance with a focus on Corporate Finance, Rene is cofounding ‘Hayi’, which is digitizing neighbourhoods in the United Arab Emirates through a hyperlocal social network mobile application.

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Being a strong believer in that dynamic innovation is the very backbone of a thriving economy, I hope to make an impact by combining my two passions, economics & innovation and becoming an actor in the Venture Capital & Startup ecosystem.

My Background

After obtaining my Bachelor’s in Economics from Stellenbosch University (South Africa), I initiated my career in the finance industry as an intern at the Venture Capital firm ‘HAVAIC’ in Cape town and subsequently joined Emirates NBD (National Bank Dubai), as an Analyst in the Corporate Banking department. Early 2020, being the year of many disruptions and new beginnings, my partner and I went on to found the startup ‘Hayi’ in Dubai, which is digitising neighbourhoods in the UAE through its hyperlocal social network mobile application. Since our MVP launch in September 2020, we have seen exciting user growth across 15 test-neighbourhoods, established key partnerships with some of the largest property developers in the region and are now in the process of raising a Seed round.

Why Frankfurt School?

Born in Dubai, raised in Germany, and having studied in South Africa, it was of paramount importance to me to study at a Business School that adopts an international perspective. Rarely have I come across a more open-minded and diverse student base, such as at the Frankfurt School. The second reason for choosing the MSc Finance at FS, is due to how highly the department values the most relevant and forward-thinking topics with regards to technology, and efficiently integrates these into the curriculum.

I must also note that, the institution has handled the transition to hybrid/online learning particularly well since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore the 3-day study model at FS has been exceptionally convenient, allowing me to compartmentalise my week efficiently and focus on both my startup and my Master’s studies.

Why MSc Finance for Startups & Venture Capital?

Most startups fail due to operational inefficiencies or financial mismanagement. Therefore, a sound understanding of finance is a key factor in determining a startup’s success in its expansionary phase. The modules in MSc Finance at FS provide a solid and practical education in this regard and have greatly improved my confidence in managing the finances for my own startup as well as my ability to negotiate with investors when it comes to capital raising. Furthermore, the MSc Finance program offers different concentrations (Corporate Finance, Financial Advisory, Capital Markets, and Risk Management), ideal for students that intend to join a specific sector. Personally, I have selected the Corporate Finance concentration, which I not only see as beneficial for managing my own startup, but also as laying the foundation for a future career in Venture Capital.

Beyond the formal education, the Frankfurt School is also a host to a plethora of great student initiatives, in particular the FS Ventures initiative, which I have joined and is fantastically led by Lisa Ebner and Moritz Spielmann. It has blessed me with a diverse environment of like-minded and knowledgeable peers that not only support but also challenge and question your ideas, an integral ingredient in the path of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the initiative frequently hosts notable guest speakers at workshops as well as organising student trips to visit and network with key players of the industry in the heart of Germany’s startup world, Berlin.

All-in-all, I have found the FS student-base and the Professors to promote and foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and initiative, important characteristics which ripple through and define the economy in the long run, and therefore FS qualifies as a fantastic Business school for any aspiring Entrepreneurs or Venture Capitalists.