Startup Executive Academy 

The Startup Executive Academy (SEA), founded in 2017, is an international Go-to-Market program for early-stage (pre-seed, seed or A phase) technology startup executives and founders. The program aims to enable startups to accelerate their business by providing highly relevant and practical input that is delivered by a world-class faculty from academy and business.

The SEA incorporates aspects of both a face-to-face and an online program. 

SEA Program

Participants engage in diverse group work and get valuable, highly practical input from our SEA faculty.

Topics include: Business Model & Strategy, Neuroscience and the Connection to Exemplary Leadership, Value Proposition, Go-to-Market, Storytelling, Investment Memorandum, Pricing, Sales, Digital Marketing, Deal Closing and IP Generation & Protection.

In addition, participants have the opportunity to meet for one-on-one sessions with our world-class faculty, as well as to participate in yoga sessions for more energy, mental focus and concentration.


After successful participation in the SEA, participants are admitted to the SEA Circle, the network of the SEA alumni and faculty, where they can benefit from the global network of the SEA Circle and regular (online) events, the SEA Circle Sessions.
In these sessions, SEA Circle members get input from the SEA faculty on important startup topics, they can share their experiences on success and failure and receive advice from their peers.


For further information on the Startup Executive Academy, please contact us at


Andreas Spechtler

Founder Startup Executive Academy
Founder & CEO Silicon Castles

Andreas has more than 25 years of experience in the global technology and licensing business, digital entertainment, international marketing, sales and operations in Europe, the US, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. Andreas worked for American, German and Japanese companies and looks back on many years of startup and incubation experience inside and outside of corporations. Andreas served as an executive in global technology companies such as Sony, Nemetschek, Real Networks and Dolby. Previously, Andreas was the President of Dolby Laboratories International. In the year 2017, Andreas left the corporate world and is now fully dedicated to helping startups to grow and startup executives to become world-class performers.

Catherine Ogilvie

Senior Marketing Advisor at Silicon Castles
Founder Ogilvie Brand Consultants

Catherine Ogilvie has been in global marketing and communications for over 30 years. She worked with blue chip businesses around the world and has lived both in Europe and the US. Her roles have included senior international management positions with Harrods, Motorola, Napster, Edelman, Almond Board of California and Dolby. Most recently, she has held leadership positions within higher education at the University of Leicester. She has highly valuable experience in building and mentoring teams, developing corporate/brand narratives and effective marketing strategy in a range of industry sectors from start-ups to multi nationals. Catherine is the founder of Ogilvie Brand Consultants, a company that delivers global solutions for marketing, communications and brand strategy.

James Perkins

Program Director for Startup Executive Academy
Associate Director for Executive Education Programs at Stanford Graduate School of Business

James Perkins is the Associate Director of Executive Education Programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to this role, he led Alumni Clubs and Global Outreach for Columbia Business School in New York. He started his career in non-academic fields, working in strategic positions at HBO, Pepsi Cola, and MGM Motion Pictures. He holds a Bachelor of Science in the field of Business Administration from the University of San Diego. James supports Silicon Castles as the Program Director for the Startup Executive Academy program.

Thomas Weiss

Founder & CEO at Authentic Vision,
Senior Technology Advisor at Silicon Castles

Thomas Weiss is founder and CEO of Authentic Vision. He brought together his passion for innovation and deep experience in cryptology and IT security management to launch Authentic Vision in 2012. Under Thomas’ leadership, Authentic Vision has secured more than 70 patents and attracted a global client base. Thomas also serves as a senior technology advisor to startups at Silicon Castles where he coaches entrepreneurs on transforming ideas into intellectual property and scalable products, while mentoring emerging leaders and teams to become top performers. Additionally, Thomas is a visiting lecturer in internet protocols and services, cryptology and IT-security management at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. Prior to founding Authentic Vision, Thomas had worked in product management, sales and research.

Dr. Maciej Kraus

Partner at Movens Capital

Maciej Kraus is an experienced strategy executive with broad operational background. As former head of sales strategy and revenue optimization at PWC, he is specialized in pricing and sales excellence in B2B, B2C and retail markets. He advised companies in various markets (Poland, USA, Russia, China, France, Germany) and worked both for leading multinationals (RWE, Siemens, Daimler, MW, Johnson&Johnson, Mondi) as well as MSEs. Furthermore, he possesses vast hands-on experience responsible for marketing and product management at Nestle. Beside that Maciej Kraus is author of numerous publications and a regular speaker at conferences. Spreading his knowledge as lecturer at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, LBS, Stanford and Harvard, he is also active as a sales coach and trainer.

Mahesh Sundaram

Senior Strategic Advisor for Global Growth at Silicon Castles

Mahesh Sundaram is the former Chief Commercial Officer at Authentic Vision and served as a sales and marketing executive in the mobility and consumer electronics market for over 20 years. Prior to joining Authentic Vision, he was the VP for Global Sales and Customer Support at Immersion Inc. and Regional VP for Asia Pacific at Dolby Labs, where he developed business strategies, as well as sales, marketing and customer support functions. Mahesh also served in business management and marketing roles at Dolby Labs and Audistry, Australia. Before that, he worked at Intel bringing new products and technologies to market in the Asia Pacific region.

David Kinsella

General Counsel Silicon Castles
Founder djk legal

With over 17 years of experience as a legal practitioner both in private practice and in-house in technology, media, and entertainment, David has worked for Taylor Wessing, Siemens, Fujitsu, Sony and most recently held the position of Senior Director, IP Transactions & Legal Affairs at Dolby in London. He is qualified as a lawyer in multiple jurisdictions (England & Wales, Ireland, New York, and California) in addition to his registration as a European lawyer with the Munich Bar Association, Germany. David also holds an MBA, acts as General Counsel for Silicon Castles and affiliated companies and retains his own legal practice for independent legal consultancy.

Michael John

Founder, CEO and Creative Director of LOOP

Michael John is the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of LOOP, an international digital agency with 300 employees and a Headquarter in Salzburg, Austria. Michael has been consulting brands like PUMA, Porsche, Breitling and others on the intersection between design, technology and digital brand marketing for more than 15 years.

Jeff Burton 

CEO Woodside Creek Ventures

Jeff Burton co-founded Electronic Arts and today he is known as a serial American startup entrepreneur with a passion for European innovation and startups. Jeff is board member of several European startups, co-founder of HolodeckVR in Munich, and a major advisor to BitDegree and other technology companies. He is also a Partner/Associate at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. In addition to being Head of Global Programs for Startup Division by Civittá in Vilnius, Lithuania, he recently became a member of the Board of Advisors for Startup Europe under the European Commission in Brussels. 

Philipp Mayerhofer

CEO and Partner
Smart Family Office

Philipp Mayerhofer is CEO and Partner at Smart Family Office, a strategic partner for private and corporate investors. Philipp is serial entrepreneur and investor with a strong expertise especially in the fields of finance and renewable energy. In 2010 he founded his first company in the field of Photovoltaik, which was later integrated into the existing family business. Today, most of the revenues of the company are generated from the Photovoltaik business. In 2014 he founded “Alpenschlaf”, a company that has the goal to increase sleeping quality.

Dr. Robert Niemann

Lecture at the University of  St.Gallen

Dr. Niemann has many years of expertise in international sports and entertainment. Starting his career in entertainment at the Kirch Group, in the programme management of the TV channel ProSieben and as Vice President Sales at Fremantle Media (RTL Group), he became General Manager at SONY Pictures Television International. In 2008 he continued his career in football as CEO of DFL Sports Enterprises GmbH in Frankfurt and has been a consultant for FIFA in Zurich since 2014. In the investment industry, Dr. Niemann has extensive experience in financing and structuring international projects and evaluating investments. He is invested in various companies and projects.

Chris Deering

Supervisory Board Member at European Games Group

Chris Deering serves as a Supervisory Board Member at the European Games Group and is best known for his longterm role as CEO of PlayStation Europe from the launch in 1995 through its first decade, during which he also headed Sony’s Electronics Division in Europe as CEO for 2 years before moving into new tech/entertainment ventures. Chris has over 30 years experience in managing International film, TV, games and consumer brand businesses. He also worked with McKinsey and received a Bafta Fellowship for his contributions to the Computer Gaming Industry in 2013.

Christian Dreyer

CEO Dreyer Ventures

Christian Dreyer is well-known as an entrepreneur, investor, and former CEO. After working as a consultant for McKinsey, he acquired Hansen Sicherheitstechnik, a specialist mining equipment manufacturer in Germany. He grew the company internationally over 18 years (Eastern Europe, Russia, China, South Africa) and IPOed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2006. Christian also served as CEO of SkiData AG. Since 2005, he acts as an active investor engineering, life science and media companies such as MS Industrie AG, Beno, logistics software company BNS, Novogenia, Europe’s biggest genetic analysis lab and a digital media publishing house “Vox Populi”.

Jay Kim

Managing Director at The PF Consulting

Jay Kim is the Managing Director at The PF Consulting and supporting US and European tech companies to expand their footprint into the Asian market including Korea and Japan. All along his career, he served as a sales and marketing executive in the mobile, consumer electronics and digital entertainment for over 20 years. Prior to establishing The PF Consulting, he was the Country Manager of Korea at Dolby Labs, where he developed business strategies, sales and marketing and customer support functions. Jay also served as VP of APAC business managing business operations of RealNetworks and WiderThan. Before that he set up two companies, Music & Film and Voceweb, operating record label and speech recognition platform respectively. He worked as a senior engineer and technology analyst in LG Electronics and LG Semicon until 1998.

Rudolf Kinsky

Founder and Managing Director
Kinsky Capital Management

Rudolf Kinsky is Founder and Managing Director at Kinsky Capital Management and advises VC/PE funds, start-ups and SMEs on strategy development and fundraising in the DACH and CEE regions. Amongst his other activities Rudolf serves as Advisory Board member of APEX Ventures, as Senior Advisor Austria of DPE Deutsche Private Equity and as a board member of AVCO, the Austrian Venture Capital and Private Equity Organisation. Rudolf looks back on an international career that spans over 40 years in private equity, investment banking and management consulting in the USA, UK, Germany, Austria, and CEE. He worked at 3i Group, Charterhouse, Dresdner Bank, McKinsey & Co., and First Boston Corporation.

Testimonials from previous years

Here’s what our former SEA participants say about the program:

The Startup Executive Academy was a game changer for us. The program is extremely well designed, focusing on the important topics for early stage startups. It provided access to top academics and industry professionals through a combination of lectures, exercises, and 1-on-1 meetings. These are experts who we wouldn’t normally have access to and whose experience and knowledge is invaluable, particularly for an early stage startup like ours. SEA took us out of our own heads, provided constructive feedback, challenged our business assumptions/ideas and forced us to think more clearly and focus on our execution. Lastly, and possibly the most important aspect for us is the community of peers we met who continue to support us today.

Vanja Perić

CEO AymoLive d.o.o.,

The Startup Executive Academy was without any doubt the learning experience that had the most impact on the way I do business today. I can safely say that, thanks to what I learned there, I already managed to increase my startup revenues and already paid-off the investment.
What is special is that it mixes life-skills improvement subject with business-oriented and technical matters, all of it from world-class professors and professionals. This makes up for an all-round training that provisions founders and entrepreneurs with holistic sets of new skills and mindsets which really can make the difference in growing the startup and business.
Besides the know-how and theoretical concept I learned, what made the real difference for me was the inspirations, on a business and execution level, that I got from this experience, which is allowing me and my startup to refine and implement very audacious plans for the future.
I highly recommend SEA to any startup founder or executive wishing to maximize its impact potential.

Michelangelo Guarise

CEO Volumio SRL,

The SEA is condensed start-up know-how in an attractive format.
What sets the academy apart from others is not only the very experienced faculty but also the amazing selection of participants. The group was packed with unique characters that combined great ideas, purpose, creativity and a big heart.
I gained a lot of relevant insights and look forward to continuing to work with the network.

Moritz Thielen

CTO IDUN Technologies AG,

The SEA drips with highly distilled entrepreneurial spirit,
guiding young startups through the most crucial topics of their journey, with the knowledge and wisdom of experts of their respective domains. Startups gain first-class access to market wisdom and are able to connect with fellow startups. Knowledge sharing is deeply ingrained into the program. The lessons are outstanding and the knowledge and insights you get to avoid common problems are priceless.

Martin Macheiner

CTO VIABIRDS Technologies GmbH,
SEA20 Online

The Startup Executive Academy was a unique and intense experience
where top executives, professors and investors shared years worth of learning into a short period of time. It gave me and my business the know-how I needed to reach our next key milestones. I really enjoyed the balance between the more academic lessons and the learning-by-doing with the weekly homework. I’m also very thankful for the one-on-one office hours sessions where I could exchange and get support for my startup trajectory and current challenges.
I can highly recommend the Startup Executive Academy to all startup leaders who look into accelerating their learnings, and building a powerful international network.

Elodie Swanberg

SEA20 Online

The Startup Executive Academy 2020 was very well organised and structured in the online format despite the challenging COVID situation. Qualified lecturers from business and academia made the 4 weeks very informative, inspiring and at the same time a great added value for our future development. Questions about current challenges and problems that one has to face are discussed in open space among the participating start-ups and the individual sessions and answered in a solution-oriented way. The SEA thrives on the exchange between the international participants as well as the international experts. As a graduate, the Startup Executive Academy 2020 was a real success for me personally and for our startup. Recommendable!

Gerald Eder

Co-Founder solbytech  gmbh,
SEA20 Online

The SEA20 was perhaps one of the most challenging programs I had the pleasure to experience so far in the startup world.
The tightly packed and very interactive schedule combined with top-class faculty offered me and my company the possibility to not just question everything, but also to work on actionable solutions during the one on one sessions. Having access to world-class leaders on such a personal level is unique. Everybody wants a network like this one. Proud to be part of it!

Philip Meier

CCO & Co-Founder ImageBiopsy Lab GmbH,
SEA20 Online

The SEA was an intense but incredibly encouraging experience. Insights from top executives, investors and professors have proven to be a real catalyst for the development of my business and myself. Working on your business model is, in theory, not hard, but in practice slight nuances in your decision-making can have a huge impact in sharpening your product vision, reaching your target group, telling your products‘ story and cutting the deals in sales. Getting a better understanding of these nuances through inspiring talks, intense discussions and insights with the vastly experienced faculty and my international peers made me humble and thankful. It’s great to be part of this family!

Thomas Layer-Wagner

CEO Polycular
Salzburg, Austria

„I’ve never participated in a program where top executives of corporations, Silicon Valley VCs and Stanford professors get together to share not only their knowledge and expertise with us but also insights that are hard to access from the outside. I hold an MBA in Strategic Management but the SEA provides a totally different, tailor-made experience.
The fantastic international peers turn into your friends, mentors, advisors, and supporters. I recommend the SEA to startup leaders who seek to move to another level, gain practical knowledge and build a powerful network.“

Elena Shkarubo

CEO MeetnGreetMe
Minsk, Belarus

„I was blown away by Prof. Baba Shiv and the intensity of the Startup Executive Academy program. I have received so much new input that changed my mind and helped me to gain a different view on many aspects of my company. Our group of participants was really international and this gave me very interesting insights on how to grow globally. After the Academy, I was invited to give a lecture for a Stanford executive program which was the first step to expand my business in the US. I can highly recommend the Startup Executive Academy.“

Ralph Hünermann

CEO Odoscope
Cologne, Germany 

„The Startup Executive Academy was very good, both the lectures as well as the curriculum. I already attended at similar programs of top US business schools and would like to congratulate for this great curriculum and very competent faculty. I was able to learn again and can recommend this Startup Executive Academy in Europe!“

Nuno Job

London, United Kingdom

SEA 2022

Get trained by top professors and experienced executives.
Meet passionate founders, global industry experts and top investors.

Become a member of the SEA Circle –
a world class startup network.

SEA 2021

SEA 2019

For investors

Investors are always looking for professional Go-to-market execution. The SEA is the perfect hands-on program to learn this. Sending a talented startup executive to the SEA is a great investment in the success of your startups.

SEA Circle Startups