HOT SEAT - MICHAEL GUTSMANN:
What are three words to describe yourself?
What was your very first business or creative idea? Did that make any money?
During my university time I was co-founder of a software company which developed algorithms for the packaging industry. We sold the solution to Unilever (year 1989).
What was your biggest challenge when you started your first business?
Find the right people and life more or less w/o any money
What was the best advice in life or business you've ever received?
“Humility is an important part of life”; my first boss told me.
Which three people, famous or not famous, dead or alive, would you most like to invite to a dinner party? Why?
My father, because he died 20 years ago and I miss him Robert de Niro, because I love most of his movies (especially: The Midnight Run) Claus Graf Stauffenberg, because I would like to understand his inner view.
How do you define success?
Success is a total private thing. For me it is to see something grow and to notice that it becomes more and more independent. In other words: Success is when I´m superfluous.
What makes a founder successful?
Believe,trust, energy and a ounce of luck.
What do you do in order to keep on learning and developing?
Take time to talk to others. Not only in my eco system but with total different people. Read a lot of new ideas and being open minded for them. But most importantly is that I try to avoid arrogance.
Which resources are you recommending to first time entrepreneurs?
A good team – you can rely on.
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Quitting my job, founding a company, getting into a relationship, and buying a flat in Hamburg all at the same time.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Work harder and be more passionate.
What's your favourite book?
Dashiell Hammett (Red Harvest), Raymond Chandler (The big sleep) and A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh).
What character traits of other entrepreneurs have impressed you?
I´m most impressed if people have a vision and believe in the idea they have paired with an open mind for other ideas/views.
Do you believe successful ventures require something meaningful?
As said before: A class-A team is key. This and a penchant to explain the world what all of this is about combined with a strong believe in the idea that might drive a startup to become a successful venture.
What's something that first time founders should avoid at all costs?
Go with the wrong people and allow themselves to make mistakes. Mistakes are so powerful if you use them to adjust the idea.
Why are you getting involved with Best of X?
I was invited.