I help Leaders set the right direction and reach their destination.

My name is Manuel Koelman [kuːlman]. I am an entrepreneur, investor and leadership whisperer.

Leaders get direct access to me, my know-how and experience of 15+ years building, running and investing in companies, as well as to the PIRATE network.

In the last years I have been sparring partner to more than 100 Leaders from corporates, startups and organizations. Read what they say about working with me.

Currently, I spend 50% of my time with the Leaders of my portfolio companies. The other 50% I spend with ambitious Leaders that are on the journey to build and grow meaningful businesses.


Every now and again leading a company becomes overwhelming. Are we working on the right things? Did I choose the right strategy? How can we beat the competition? What can we do to transform faster? How to motivate the team?

It can be a lonely journey. As a Leader it is hard to find somebody to trust and to speak with openly. And yet there is hardly anything more effective than taking moments of reflection, structure the challenges and prioritize well.

My job is to help you see clearly, navigate the ups and downs and find the best way forward. I am your sparringspartner, not a consultant. So rather than selling fish, I will help make sure that you know how to catch fish and become the best fisherman you can possibly be. 


  • Manuel is an excellent sparring partner, always challenging the status quo and pushing to think outside of norms. He is thought provoking and has the rare ability to think big while being able to address operational questions.

    Dr. Shabnam Mirsaeedi-Farahani
    Category Lead
  • The air is thin when it’s about leadership and then it’s good to have a sparring partner that can handle all facets of a business. No matter if it’s product, distribution or people. His well-structured approach combined with his no bullshit attitude makes him my go-to guy for tough decisions.

    Sebastian Deutsch
    Co-Founder & Managing Director
  • Manuel is my favorite devil’s advocate. He is constantly challenging the status quo, thinks outside of the box with a very strategic but also hands-on approach. Working with him is a real pleasure. His direct way to communicate is refreshing and I would always rely on him.

    Jessica Koch
    Head of New Business
  • Manuel has been my sparring partner for multiple years now. It gives me confidence to have him in my corner. With his sharp analyses and fresh perspectives he always helps me to find a way out of any deadlock and become a better and more effective leader in a digital world.

    Jan-Dieter Schaap
    Senior Vice President Retail
  • Manuel is one of my most important sparring partners for new ideas and strategies. His calm, structured but also creative and fast nature helps me tremendously to develop my businesses on and on.

    Carlo Matic
    Founder & Managing Director
  • When leading a business it‘s easy to get lost in the daily grind of it and fall in love with your own ideas. Thus, it is essential to have neutral people in your life who challenge your opinions, decisions and strategies. People who walk the talk, who have been in similar situations themselves and who have weathered a storm or two in their past. Manuel has done exactly that in his unmistakably direct yet respectful way for me.

    Johannes Naumann
    Head of DHL Startup Lab
  • Thanks to his experience with startups and corporates Manuel was always a great sounding board to me. He helped me to master and structure challenges with fresh perspectives and his clear line of thought.

    Oliver Thylmann
    Co-Founder and Managing Director
  • Manuel is able to give a clear and unbiased external view on existing challenges. His aptitude to listen, discern and propose both conventional and unconcential ideas has been of great value to us.

    Karim Hesham Tarraf
    Co-Founder & CEO


I am an entrepreneur at heart, and that is deeply reflected in how I work. To me results and outcomes are more important than pretty slides or the amount of time spent. Therefore, my focus will be on what is feasible and effective. Usually, that means to reduce complexity, prioritize and focus.

My feedbacks and reflections are straight-forward, clear and direct. But always from the heart. My aim is not to be right, but to create better outcomes.

Every company is unique and I always work context-specific and consider the individual company setup and market. Wherever you are, there is always a next step on the way forward. I work with you to find that path and start walking.

Moving forward means change. And it’s often a painful process. I consider organizations to be complex social systems that cannot be deterministically formed but purposefully changed. It requires a leader that strives for results yet doesn’t forget the process, thoughtful yet determined. I will help you balance well.


  • Leaders that want to grow and become the best leader they can possibly be
  • Leaders that have to lead through a digital transformation
  • Leaders that want to find the best digital strategy and innovate faster
  • Leaders that have extremely ambitious growth targets and need to scale fast


  • A structured and practice-oriented approach to reach your objectives
  • Unfiltered feedback and sparring on the topics that matter most to you
  • Somebody that holds you accountable to your objectives
  • Access to a super strong network of startups, investors and entrepreneurs

I work on a fixed monthly fee basis. You can cancel anytime.

Do you want your work to be more focused and meaningful?

Get in contact.