Female Power in our Portfolio Family Part 2
Tales of Berlin Episode 1 Part 2
Berlin, both as a City and as a Culture, boasts an ever growing Following, especially the Startup Ecosystem has scaled massively over the last few years. As one of the few Venture Capital Investors who have been around for most of it, we felt we needed to share some of our experiences and those of others we have been lucky enough to share. That being said welcome to “Tales of Berlin.”
If you haven´t read part 1 of our first episode, you can do so here.
After having shared your individual experiences and advice in part one, I would now like to focus on rather personal matters. Starting with, what do you think is your one superpower?
It is always hard to perform a self-evaluation but I believe I have quite a strong will and I am quite an energetic person. Both help me achieve the goals that I am setting myself.
Since I love plants so much I am a super product-centric person who is obsessed with the idea of disrupting this industry for the benefit of consumers and plants alike.
VCs like to talk about their contrarian views but you as an operator what do you believe that most around you disbelieve?
This is a good question. The most obvious notion that comes to my mind is that some of my very close friends tell me that I have a “reality distortion”.
At first, I wasn’t even sure what this term means. So, I looked it up. When I realized that reality distortion has both a positive and negative implication, I started to reflect on that.
I came to the conclusion that there were times during my founder life where I was definitely given the advice to quit. That heycater! was a “sinking ship” and that I should “take some time off” or that I as a CEO are “too young and too inexperienced” to make it, given the competition we were facing.
And you know what? In the end, I always did whatever I thought was best for my company. Now, we feel pretty confident that we are well-prepared and ready to compete with whatever and whoever comes in our way.
That plants are only decoration. I always like to compare them to our beloved pets. Plants are alive and we should treat them with the appropriate respect.
Speaking of the past, when did you realize you were wrong about something?
This is a tough question. Generally, I was wrong about our early expansion, I was wrong about many people and hires and I was often wrong about my own capabilities. To be honest, I think I could name you an instance every day where I have a strong opinion on something but I am actually wrong about it.
Every time I am wrong about something, I feel pain and at the same time I strongly believe in “no pain no gain”. Hence, nowadays being wrong about something represents an opportunity to learn and grow from for me.
I second that. Hard times accelerate your personal growth but one of my biggest misjudgements was when I entered the ecosystem that I assumed that the startup scene is way more characterized by gender equality. Unfortunately, I had to realize that we still have a long way to go, but I am happy to make my contribution.
Although you all have accomplished a lot so far, what don’t you know that you wish you knew?
Coding. But it’s never too late ;-)
How the brain functions and therefore how I can better experiment with myself. My boyfriend actually challenged me on this idea that nothing stops me from educating myself on the brain, which is why I am currently trying to read as many books as possible from the book list of Harvard Med Schools Neuroscience undergraduate program.
As a start-up founder and CEO, you always need to make a decision within a compressed timeframe. Therefore, I am interested in what unit of time matters the most for you and why?
I am a pretty mindful person. That is why I think the present counts the most, the here and now. For me literally every second counts.
I have the feeling that if I want to optimize for the best possible day I have to frontload on double-digit minutes, usually 50-minute intervals. If I want to optimize for a quarter I have to frontload on achieving the best possible week. Generally speaking, I like speed and short timespans.
In terms of decision making: one of the core tasks as a CEO is hiring the right talent. What do you think about the basic principle of “Hire fast fire fast”. Do you agree or disagree?
I tend to agree because we live in a fast changing environment and therefore it can be necessary to hire fast and smart. But most important for me is to build an unbeatable talent experience and a hiring process that is optimized for speed. Plus, measure your churn during probation as an indicator of hiring quality. Also, everyone deserves a second chance. And if you have to let go, let go with grace.
It depends. In my point of view, I agree if you’re in a hyper growth stadium and are constantly testing new things. In that case, it is crucial that the whole team is ready to execute. If you’re more mature and settled I disagree because sound structures can be a real value driver.
While we are on the subject of improvements: what needs to be changed in the world of start-ups or tech for good?
I think the world needs more kindness and more good workplaces. I am a believer in company culture and a mindful corporate mindset.
With that, I mean that especially the market movers, high performing tech firms, should leave no trace on their people and the environment. I really hope I will build a company big enough to have a voice and a lasting impact on society and the environment as well.
I feel the same way as Resi. Plus, much more needs to happen with regard to diversity. As a firm believer that diversity ultimately benefits everyone and convinced humanist, I find discrimination and injustice intolerable.
I am therefore grateful to be in a position to make a contribution to a positive overall social development.
Let us conclude by taking a peek into the future: What do the next five years hold for you and your company?
I wish that one day every company will love and use our product on a daily basis. The next 5 years will be decisive in making this a reality. I am determined to use the time wisely.
Resi, Xu, Marie, thank you very much for joining me on our first episode of Tales of Berlin. It couldn’t be better than working with you. I wish you all the best for the future and keep on rocking!
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About the Author:
Robert is working as a VC Investment Manager @ IBB Bet. with a strong interest in ConsumerTech, SaaS and Marketplaces. Besides a passion for good food and travel, he is a sport enthusiasts, crazy about football and still waiting for Union Berlin to win the UEFA Champions League.
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