Over three decades I have been 'digitally transforming' companies as a founder, entrepreneur and board member.
But whether in a small student company, a hyped start-up or a listed international corporation, the challenges are basically always the same.
Over time, I have been able to work out, internalize and successfully apply the essence of the digital transformation of companies, their business models and their employees.
In my fourth professional decade, I therefore actively support companies in successfully realizing their ambitious digital vision.
With enthusiasm as an entrepreneur.
With experience as a manager.
With empathy as a human.
Board member in two listed investment companies.
Focus on leadership, operations and digitalization.
Founder & CEO of two digital platform ventures.
Both sustainably established as market leaders.
My professional background.
My internet story.
The start-up had just been launched when the dot.com crisis hit the market for young Internet companies. The venture capital threatens to run out in the short term. The rescue mission succeeds, 10% of the shares go to a strategic investor for 5 million German marks.
“Just tell the truth” says my girlfriend over breakfast. So I call an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting and inform the investor that my co-founder is happily spending the money that is so urgently needed to break even.
After the subsequent takeover battle, Germany’s leading law firm is once again a little richer and I am the proud owner of a start-up consisting of an ambitious business plan and a lot of hope. I also have an impressive mountain of debt (I don’t even want to mention the amount here over 20 years later, my banker might be among the readers) and have mortgaged my house for the down payment to demonstrate a certain repayment intention. The latter is used as a “headquarters” and I was able to acquire it because my previously founded student company had quickly become the market leader in a small niche. I rewarded myself with a bright blue Carrera 4 Targa, which I am still embarrassed to say to my former fellow students at Ludwig Maximilian University.
Three years later, I’m sitting with investment bankers who have traveled all the way from New York on a private jet in an office I’ve just moved into in an iconic old brewery at the Ammersee. There’s an icy draught through the cracks in the glazing, which only partially closes a former loading ramp, but at least you can see the Ammersee and even the Zugspitze when it’s sunny.
I’d better ask again after my presentation – after all, we’re talking about a quarter of a billion euros and my English is still at school level. But the CFO reaffirms the investment decision and adds: “For three reasons: Integrity. Integrity. Integrity.” Everyone nods in agreement.
I take this to mean that they believe I can successfully implement the ambitious plan I have presented with my team and their money. And that’s exactly what happens.
Apparently, honesty really does pay off. So I make “integrity” my “business paradigm”. And marry my girlfriend.
The investor, the then proud US investment bank Lehman Brothers, has long since gone bankrupt. But I will soon be celebrating my silver wedding anniversary.