Starting my blog, I‘d like to share my story. It outlines lessons learned and shows how today’s entrepreneurial journeys can look like. Especially how entrepreneurs connect, learn, fail and succeed in creating value for our societies.
I grew up in East Germany, in a small village in Brandenburg. For the first 20 or so years of my life, I wasn’t concerned about starting my own company at all. I dreamt to be a professional soccer player. I spent day and night playing soccer.
The only entrepreneurial endeavor I experienced during my childhood was the start of a company of my uncle and his business partner. After the wall came down, they started (somewhat in 1992) a construction business in their backyard in Berlin. I spent one summer holiday break working there. I can’t recall a lot but what I learned is that by being disciplined and smart-working, you can achieve whatever you want. The company made it through tough times and is still operative.
STUDYING & FIRST WORK EXPERIENCES
During my Bachelor studies in Berlin (2005 – 2009), I worked a lot. Mainly to make money and find out what I am passionate about it. From a call center sales position to assisting auditor at KMPG and internal controller at Daimler, my work experiences range from various topics. What I learned is that keep looking attitude is key in finding work that truly excites you. It requires stamina and a right mindset to emotionally deal with setbacks, failures and under-achievement. However, if you keep looking, you will find your spot where you can embrace you talent, passion and mastery for any art.
Looking back, the highlight of my Bachelor studies was studying abroad in California, Fresno for 6 months. For the very first time, I met people with an entrepreneurial mindset (starting, failing, learning, starting again, succeeding). It was mind blowing. AND I met my soul brother, Alex, who helped me to start changing habits, deeply reflecting on who I am, who I want to be and how I get there. Reading books like Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, listening to Anthony Robbins lessons and regularly discussing this with Alex helped me to deeply change my personal growth attitude – from being reactive based on what others want to being pro-active based on what I want. I learned that you must pro-actively choose where to go and do whatever it takes.
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BREAKING OUT TO TRAVEL
Working for big companies during the Lehmann brother downturn in 2008 and its huge economic changes, I realized that employees and even higher ranked managers aren’t indispensable. Everyone feels like a very small wheel in a big engine. It made me reflect on what I don’t want and where and how I want to spend my time.
As a result, my now wife and I escaped our original career plan. I think it was Bachelor & Master studies and then going to a big company after graduating as a business major. Instead we went traveling for a year in Australia, New Zealand and South-East-Asia in 2009. It is the foundation for a deep and beautiful relationship and love. I learned that even if you don’t know what you want, you must know what you don’t want. For me at this time, it wasn’t working for big corporations as an employee (dealing with internal politics, non-creativity and boredom).
LEARNING & STARTING UP
Fast forwarding to my Master studies @Maastricht University (2010 – 2011), Holland, I finally worked for the very first time in a startup that is called Maaslife.nl – an online student platform about anything happening in Maastricht. During the Entrepreneurship Week, I met Bjoern Lasse Herrmann, CEO @Compass. He presented Startup Genome’s finding ‘why most startups fail’ to a group of students. I learnt that you don’t need to be at an University to do outstanding research and influence people’s perception about a certain topic.
After graduation, I did a minor de-tour in my career and joined a German strategic consultancy. At a time-being, I thought that being a consultant would help me to become an entrepreneur. In fact, the truth couldn’t be further away from reality (#illusion). In my case, I was deeply disappointed and quit after three months.
Back then, I thought if strategy consultancy doesn’t bring me closer to entrepreneurship, I want to learn from the very best every day. That’s why I booked a flight to San Francisco (own cost and risks) and joined Bjoern, Max and Ertan at Startup Compass in Silicon Valley to work on the Startup Ecosystem Report 2012. Among many interesting tasks, I was also introduced to tons of entrepreneurs, policy makers, investors and service providers in several startup hubs around the globe. I got really passionate about the power of startups as innovation enablers and economic game changers.
After successfully launching the report in October 2012, I went back to Berlin, proposed to my now wife and co-founded Spotistic – a tool for automating local social media – with Victor and Maxence, 2 French entrepreneurs and engineers. We successfully built an alpha and beta version, acquired paying customers, raised money and received EXIST – a German governmental grant for entrepreneurs.
BEING IN TRANSITION
After Spotistic, I started Fotoautomagic – a photo booth rental startup in Berlin. I am still executing the business and also working for Startupbootcamp in Berlin – a global accelerator. I guide each of the 10 teams in their journey to market and customer discovery, and help them get more clarity on why and how they might want to pursue given or new opportunities.
Thanks to my entrepreneurial journey, exciting projects and people around me, I grow every day. I learnt that starting your own projects and businesses your learning will be much higher and deeper than anything else. I currently embrace Tim Ferriss’s “4 Hour-Work-Week” principles to design my ideal lifestyle. Two principles are key: (1) validating an idea before making an investment and (2) effectively working by following Pareto’s Law (80-20 rule: 20% of your effort is responsible for 80% of your outcome) and Parkinson Law (work always extends to a pre-set time frame). I validated Fotoautomagic before making an investment. Check Principle 1. I can’t check Principle 2 off though. It’s damn hard to always follow these principles. However, I will come close and share my hacks how to remind myself and master them throughout this blog.
Thanks for reading. I want to invite YOU to feedback and comment. I always appreciate your time.
by being disciplined and smart-working, you can achieve whatever you want
keep looking attitude is key in finding work that truly excites you
pro-actively choose where to go.
even if you don’t know what you want, you must know what you don’t want. And don’t do it.
you don’t need to be at an University to do outstanding research and influence people’s lifes
being a consultant doesn’t necessarily help to become an entrepreneur
learning will be much higher and deeper than anything else when starting your own projects and businesses
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