Maria-Liisa Bruckert is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Health Tech company SQIN. She is skilled in Digital Strategy, Strategic Planning, Business Development, Start-up Consulting, and Digitization. Additionally, she is a strong business development professional with a Focus in Business and Strategy Development.
Maria-Liisa is also a recipient of the Google Female Founder Immersion 2020, the Google Play Best of 2020 Award with the AI (Machine Learning) based application SQIN and one of Industry Era’s 10 most admired women leaders 2021.
Maria-Liisa, can you start off by telling us about yourself and why you chose the technology profession?
Describing myself, the first two things that come to my mind are: I am a founder and I am a mom.
But to tell you a little bit more about me: I studied electrical power engineering with a double degree in Taiwan and Germany. After that, I began my career at Siemens, where I stayed until this year. There I gained a lot of experience in the fields of business development and digitization strategy. In 2018, I had my first child. When I was in my maternity leave, I wanted to find a new challenge – and ended up developing the idea for our startup SQIN, together with my co-founder Martin.
To be honest, I actually never chose the technology profession in the first place because I wanted it. My plan was to work in the field of marketing, strategy & business development. However, I knew that you can only do this soundly if you understand what you are working on. You really have to understand why the topic in question is important and has an impact. That’s why I decided to study electrical power engineering.
Can you tell us what drives you to be successful as a technologist, and entrepreneur?
I didn’t want to just found a company, I wanted to devote myself to a global social problem.
Here in Germany, we are fortunately not lacking much, but health is still not as well developed as it should be. With SQIN, I want to create something that can bring real value to people and the industry.
Tell us about your role and your vision of your company.
More than two billion people worldwide suffer from skin conditions. At the same time, many of them do not have access to dermatological care, while most others have to contend with a shortage of specialists. This in turn leads to the fact that 70% of skin problems cannot be treated properly because they are detected too late or not at all. Due to long waiting times for appointments, minor complaints quickly worsen — and become serious problems. SQIN wants to fight this shortage — or rather the infrastructure around it.
Through the SQIN app, people can get help with their skin problems — quick, personalized, shameless and easy. That is what we are working on: We want to give people all over the world the opportunity to feel good in their skin.
What’s the one or two accomplishments that you’re proud of?
The first accomplishment is definitely that we won the Google Play Best of 2020 Award in the Category Personal Growth. I mean that especially in terms of the category: personal growth is exactly what we want to enable our users to achieve. That’s why it’s great that we’ve already been awarded with our MVP in this area!
The second point is the ecosystem we build for SQIN so far – and are still building. Through our network – including dermatologists, cosmeticians, … – we see that we address the topic sustainably. The established experts are backing us. SQIN is not a short-term commerce case, nor should it be one. Instead, we want to accompany our users in the long term. The initial user feedback shows that we are already moving in this direction.
What advice do you have for other up-and-coming young entrepreneurs in Technology?
Of course, it is important to have a great product, but your network is just as important. Listen to people – to your target group – and cherish experiences people around you share. Reflect them and make the most out of it!
Are you active on social media professionally? If so, what platforms work best for engaging your followers?
We do! Our best performing platform is definitely Instagram and we also want to try out formats on YouTube, as well as Facebook groups. That’s where it works best for our case to share content widely.
To generate large reach, we also use TikTok. On the B2B side, LinkedIn works very well for us.
What is the major difference between being a Technologist and Technology Leader/entrepreneur? Any comparison?
Just from a technology perspective, you’re very detail-oriented and it’s all about making everything work scientifically.
As a leader, things have to be viable – technologically, too, of course, but also efficient from an economic perspective. Finding a good balance is what makes you a real leader.
Who was your biggest influencer?
On the one hand, there were my outstanding mentors, from whom I learned a lot and who raised me from an employee to a leader. Special thanks go to Thorsten Bäuße and Dr. Frank Büchner, who gave me an incredible skillset.
On the other hand, my co-founder and husband Martin is a great role model for me. Without him, I would never have dared to take the step of founding a company and leaving my safe haven Siemens behind. From him I learned to be truly courageous.
What is the most challenging part of your work as a Founder & CEO?
The biggest challenge is also the biggest “addiction” of being a founder: you have all the topics of the company on your desk and therefore have to think in a highly versatile way. Especially with a relatively small team, you have to jump between the individual topics very often during the day. Of course, everyone thinks that their topic is the most important and urgent one.
Of course, as a leader you have to – and are allowed to – make holistic decisions, which is why it’s fun, but it’s also a lot of effort.
What do you have your sights set on next?
I really want to bring our solution to a market where it really has a significant impact.
During my bachelor studies I was traveling in Brazil and especially there I learned how good things are for us here in Germany. Of course, the app can also have an impact here, but it is really needed much more urgently in other countries around the world.
What is a day in your life like?
I actually don’t have regular days. The most important thing is not to lose myself between work, being a mom, family and friends – that’s why I try to at least go to the workout regularly and take time for myself.
Do you have any hobbies?
My “normal” hobbies are sports, making music and traveling.
But I also enjoy start-up coaching. For example, I am Head of Female Founders at TiE Germany. That’s the perfect mix of hobby and job, so to say.
What makes you smile?
I’m always happy when someone manages to do something they didn’t think they could do before.
What are you never without?
I can’t be without chocolate, a notebook to capture ideas, and my phone (it’s actually where a lot of my life happens).
What scares you?
I am afraid of snakes! (laughs)
But apart from that: Everything that can happen in life – there is also a solution for it. It is sometimes exhausting and not easy or nice, but you can do something. That’s why I have great respect for many things, but no real fear.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Definitely Italy! Not because of the country itself, but that’s where I made the best memories, enjoyed great food and I have always been there with such good friends. I even got married in Italy! That’s why it’s this country – because of the shared experiences with my “Famiglia Italiana”.
Other work, published articles, interviews or accomplishments:
• Winner – TiE Women Global Pitch Competition, Chapter Germany
• Category Winner START Summiteer 2021 – Consumer Goods
• Most Admired Woman Leaders
• Differences in Venture Capital Investments
• Handelsblatt “So klingt Wirtschaft” Podcast
• WirtschaftsWoche Gründerzeit
• Cyber Podcast