Philip Staehelin

Innovation Evangelist

I have always thought of myself as an entrepreneur and innovator, even if I worked for corporations for most of my career. Innovations are my life’s calling. So I after years working companies like T-Mobile, CCS, Accenture od Unicredit in various executive positions and a lot of experience from startup environment, I joined Direct People who see the importance of innovations for our society in the same light. I like working on big things with them – things that can make a true impact for a company, an organization, a startup or society.

My journey to Direct People

My career has been incredibly varied and interesting. I have held many executive positions, e.g. in CCS (FleetCor Group), Roland Berger, A.T. Kearney, T-Mobile, Accenture, and UniCredit, but in the past few years I have become more and more engaged in startups, design thinking, and innovation.

My real passion for innovation started about ten years ago while I was working in T-Mobile. I became a founding member of the global innovation team, and as part of our effort to educate the management, we did a program with IDEO in London. And as a result… I fell in love (with design thinking).

Then in 2014, I started mentoring in StartupYard. I liked it so much, that when I left my role as CEO of CCS, I joined StartupYard as its first “Executive in Residence”, and eventually bought a stake. Thanks to this involvement, I started taking an active interest in supporting the startup ecosystem in the Czech Republic – and more broadly in CEE. So now I am a startup advisor, I am an angel investor, I mentor startups in acceleration programs here and abroad, and I am a member of the Board of Transparency International (as I also have a civic duty I feel I need to fill).

Project I have enjoyed

I have worked on many innovation projects, but the one I am really proud of is a project of my own. Roughly 1 billion people around the world have untreated vision problems and the vast majority of them do not have any access to glasses. I had a (hopefully) transformative idea about how to solve the problem, so I worked with an industrial designer and came up with a radical redesign of glasses that I believe will be the lowest cost solution on the market (by far), as well as solving a critical distribution issue which has made it hard to serve people in more remote parts of the world.

I know, it is an enormous challenge, but if we succeed, the impact of our innovative glasses on people’s lives all around the world will be phenomenal. We are planning our large scale pilots for early 2019, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

A few words about me

I think my greatest talent is the ability to connect people and ideas – I am a natural born networker and matchmaker. I also often see value where others do not – I tend to synthesize knowledge from various industries, interests and experiences and find new ideas by doing so.

I have a Czech wife and two teenagers, and I have been happily living in Prague for 25 years.

Are you interested in what we do?