- BoX Jury Member in Hamburg 2015
- BoX Ambassador
- Entrepreneur - 99designs
What are three words to describe yourself?
Creative, Calm, Industrious
What was your very first business or creative idea? Did that make any money?
My first true entrepreneurial venture was founding 12designer in 2009 as the first major online European marketplace for graphic design, which I sold to 99designs in 2012.
What was your biggest challenge when you started your first business?
The biggest challenge for me was in figuring out a way to scale the marketplace, which is a tricky balance of attracting both customers as well as talented designers to meet the needs on both sides of the platform. Doing all of that with limited resources added another layer of complexity.
What was the best advice in life or business you've ever received?
It s not enough to do everything right, sometimes you need to have the luck of the right timing to make things work out. This advice helps me to do things more relaxed, as you can’t force everything to work.
Which three people, famous or not famous, dead or alive, would you most like to invite to a dinner party? Why?
I’d invite design-obsessed entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Gunter Sachs and Coco Chanel and I’m pretty sure I’ll have a very inspiring evening to listen to their stories how they build their enterprises.
How do you define success?
Success for me is about creating a platform that both creates opportunity for designers across the world and promotes great design in general – a passion point of mine personally – as well as helping other entrepreneurs launch and grow their own ventures as I did.
What makes a founder successful?
For a founder to be successful, she needs to be able to see both the big picture as well as never lose sight of the smaller details. It’s also critical to learn how to delegate and find the right team to help you execute on your vision – people with the same level of passion and work ethic to push through obstacles and beyond comfort zones to grow and expand the business.
What do you do in order to keep on learning and developing?
I try very hard to stay on top of both the design world as well as the startup community through following key influencers and blogs in both of those sectors, along with participating in industry conferences for networking and learning of best practices by others.
Which resources are you recommending to first time entrepreneurs?
Don’t spend too much time reading about advise from people starting something a couple of years ago with different trends being big. Better start doing, test and iterate
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was in launching my startup, 12designer. Leaving a job as a consultant in a very nice and social agency environment to work for free and at the beginning alone on a passion-driven venture was a big change.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to quit your job.
What's something you don't want to regret when you're older?
Not spending the winter working out of my sunny “winter office” far south of Berlin.
What character traits of other entrepreneurs have impressed you?
It’s hard not to admire Steve Jobs for his unwavering obsession with great design and products informed by that great design aesthetic. Richard Branson is another obvious choice – the bold audacity in which he attacks any new venture as the consummate marketing showman and the consistently strong brand voice all of the Virgin ventures is fantastic.
Do you believe successful ventures require something meaningful?
I think the vast majority of successful ventures are linked – at least in some small way – to a cause that’s meaningful to the founder’s life. It might not be something “meaningful” in the broader sense of world issues or solving major societal needs, but the ability to solve a problem that’s real to you and your customers does serve as a key driver for successful entrepreneurs. In our field, I believe that driver is in the creation of income and career opportunity for designers all over the world – from people just coming back into the workforce after having children, designers living in far-flung locations that lack obvious employment options and those just starting out and looking to build their portfolios.
What's something that first time founders should avoid at all costs?
Avoid surrounding yourself only with “yes” people and instead being open to trusted advisers who are willing and able to question your decisions and debate issues at times. Finding a trusted team you respect is critical to growth.
Why are you getting involved with Best of X?
I love to brainstorm business ideas and discuss ways to tweak them to get a better market access. Best of X is a great way to hear a lot of interesting business stories and meet the teams behind them.
Final question - where can people find you online and why would you like to be contacted?