In the early days of their company, the entrepreneurs brought in another TUM Alumni: Dr.-Ing. Michael Ardelt (Diploma Mechanical Engineering 2008, Doctorate Electrical and Computer Engineering 2012). He is responsible for the start-up’s ambitious sustainability strategies. “The logistics industry accounts for six percent of the global greenhouse gases,” says Michael Wax. “Our goal is to make this industry green.” The company is planning to have its entire supply chain one hundred percent carbon-neutral by 2025. Even now, more than fifty percent of its total shipments are carbon-neutral. So, the 2025 target could be reached even sooner than expected. This is possible through smart routing processes such as sea freight and through carbon-offsetting, which is a mandatory part of every quote. The fact that their customers are voluntarily spending more on sustainability makes the entrepreneurs hopeful.
Michael Wax and Erik Muttersbach mean business. And so do their employees. Already in the job interview, they are asked about their thoughts on the corporate value of sustainability. “Anyone who can’t give a convincing answer won’t even be hired,” the founders say. “We don’t compromise.”
Michael Wax and Erik Muttersbach impress with their energy, drive and incomparable entrepreneurial spirit. At just thirty, the two have already set up seven start-ups together – while they were still high school and university students at TUM. Their extensive entrepreneurial knowledge certainly helps the passionate entrepreneurs with Forto. But also their expertise sets them apart.
Erik Muttersbach is no longer programming himself. But his profound knowledge of software systems quickly earned him the credibility and respect he needed to lead a team of over 150 software engineers as CTO. Michael Wax, who is the CEO and thus responsible for the strategic direction of the company, also to this day draws on his university days. He particularly emphasizes the interdisciplinary elite program Technology Management, which he and Erik Muttersbach completed at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM). The CDTM is a joint research and teaching institute of TUM and LMU and has made it its mission to complement traditional university education with an emphasis on practical application and a special focus on entrepreneurship. “This outstanding program ultimately sparked the founding of Forto,” says Michael Wax. “We met a lot of smart people and investors there. The time at CDTM was very formative for us.” Last but not least, both founders met their partners in the program.
Michael Wax and Erik Muttersbach have long since achieved their goal of becoming one of the world’s leading freight forwarders. They are tripling their sales from year to year. They now employ more than 700 people at 17 locations in Europe and Asia, including Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Recently, their start-up has become one of the unicorns, companies that investors believe to be worth at least a billion dollars even before their IPO or a company sale. Michael Wax and Erik Muttersbach know what they are doing and know what they want to achieve with their globally positioned team. “We are a sports team that wants to win,” the entrepreneurs say. “In the process, we are always thinking big.”
Master Industrial Engineering 2015 and Bachelor Informatics 2012, Master 2015
From 2012 to 2015, Michael Wax studied Industrial Engineering at TUM. In 2014, he earned an MBA from HKUST Business School Central through distance learning. He completed semesters abroad at Oregon State University and the University of California in Berkeley, USA. While still at university, he set up a software company with four other TUM Alumni in 2014. In his free time, he enjoys ski touring, kite surfing and mountain biking. The Munich native lives in his hometown with his girlfriend.
Erik Muttersbach discovered his passion for Informatics in school. To study at TUM, the Rostock native moved to Munich. Over the past few years, he has founded tech companies with a wide range of focuses, from a mobile app for museums to an online voucher platform and a Big Data cloud platform. The e-commerce company he co-founded was acquired by Google in 2011 for over $100 million. But his mother was not happy until he had earned his master’s degree from TUM in 2015. With his wife and dog Plato, Erik Muttersbach lives in Berlin.
When Michael Wax and Erik Muttersbach completed the supplementary Technology Management program at the Center for Digital Technology and Management at TUM and LMU in 2014 and 2015, their vision of the perfect logistics company was born. Together with the brothers Ferry and Fabian Heilemann, who have since retired from the operational business, they co-founded the start-up Forto (formerly FreightHub) in 2016. With their logistics technologies, they broker transportation for land, air and sea freight for their customers and allow them to digitally manage the global supply chain from manufacturer to the final customer. Each CO₂ compensation of their customers is still doubled by Forto. The goal is not only climate-neutral, but climate-positive global trade.