Founder interview with Christian

Series: Our wunschlösers

Who are we and what happens here? There is already some information on our team page. But that only answers who works for us, not what our team does. That's why we want to give you some more detailed insights. To do this, we talked to a few of our colleagues. Today we introduce you to Christian.

Christian - Gründer und Managing Partner

Hi Christian, thank you for your time!

In a few sentences, what brought you (and the others) to wunschlösung?

Somehow I've always had the desire to change things and build something of my own. Not as a one-man show, but with a team. That already started at school. First with a school newspaper that Simon and I relaunched with friends, and later with a student café. Even back then, working together in teams was simply fun.

During my studies, Simon and I worked on another idea. It was about selling photos and prints on our own website or in forums. Today we would call it drop shipping or perhaps "Picture as a Service". That was a problem I had myself, because I financed my studies with photography. But in the end we decided to finish our studies after all.

I then ended up in a student consultancy. After a few projects, I was elected to the board and, together with a friend, "shook up" the place a bit. In retrospect, that was simply a great opportunity to make mistakes and gain (leadership) experience. The work of the association was completely voluntary - only the external projects were paid for. This meant that "money" was no longer a motivator for our fellow students - so we had to learn to keep the 30-50 active members happy in other ways. Besides the voluntary work in and on the association, we did paid consulting, IT and implementation projects for various small and large companies.

I then came to "Schenke eine Ziege" (Give a Goat) via another station in the umbrella organisation of German student consultancies. This is a non-profit German-Ugandan association that is active in development cooperation. The topics there were a colourful mix: strategy work, process optimisation, marketing, press and of course fundraising. In the 10 years I was there, we collected about 1.2 million euros - mainly from private donors who could donate via our own online donation shop and then download a (gift) certificate. The donations were used to build a farm in Uganda that provides families with goats. A health station and a school were also built. We were really a close-knit team - actually more like a second family.

But the idea of founding a start-up with Simon was always there at the same time. We had already sworn to each other in the schoolyard. Even though it took a few more years, we studied different things in different places and I first went to Frankfurt to work in management consulting.

In the meantime, Simon had met Thomas during his studies. And I met Carl-Gerold - our "silverback" - through "Schenke eine Ziege". With a few supporters, we started the wunschlösung in 2015. Out of the living room, if you like.

What is your area of work with us?

We have distributed various key topics among us in the management. I originally come from consulting and have gained a lot of experience in the areas of innovation, process optimisation and design, business models, etc. It has always been about working with companies to find exactly what brings them or their customers the most benefit. It has always been about working out with companies exactly what brings them or their customers the most benefit. That's why strategy, consulting, product development and partner management are also my most important areas of responsibility at wunschlösung.

In marketing, my focus is more on ensuring the fit with the strategy and positioning. In addition to structural topics, e.g. on our website, I am involved in content planning and write selected expert articles myself in the business-related area of marketplaces, ecosystems and platforms.

I am also responsible for the back-office area. In other words, everything to do with organisational, financial and legal issues. In general, however, our business development and back office team has my back on many things - so for me it's more about orchestration.

And the topic of continuous improvement of our processes and products is naturally close to my heart as an old "Lean Six Sigma" consultant. There is always something to optimise.

Have you ever wanted to try out another area? (Have you been able to?)

Clear answer. Yes! I find it incredibly fascinating and motivating to dive into new topics and transfer experiences from other areas. I already found that exciting in counselling. I think it's also one of the reasons why I enjoy working with clients to find the best solution for them. Because it's not about trying to sell someone a standard solution "off the shelf" - regardless of whether it fits or not.

Besides, I come from the engineering and process world, so I'm not a programmer myself. Even though I have done a lot in and since my studies in the field of business informatics, business intelligence and information management, in addition to my love for customer centricity and good processes, I primarily bring structuring and innovation experience with me.

That's why I find it exciting to see how ideas and concepts become code. Even though it's good and important that I'm not involved in it down to the grassroots level - because then I wouldn't have an overview of some topics.

In addition, my role involves me jumping around a lot at conferences, meetings and events. That's also very, very inspiring, because I see a lot of cutting-edge approaches across all sectors, which I can then take apart in my head and put back together again. The result often ends up automatically in workshops with customers and partners. This is how new ideas and features for platforms, portals, shops or marketplaces are created together.

Do you still remember your first days here? What was it like?

Somehow in my memory there is not "the" first day - rather several. I hope that will be the case in the future too. Hermann Hesse says, "And there is magic in every beginning". Now it's getting even more lyrical here (laughs).

Of course, you remember the first founder sessions on couches. Or that it's a "really good" idea to look for a name for "the baby" with lots of people. But I also won't soon forget our first offices in Jena and Leipzig.

Besides, new wunschlösers always bring change and change the mood and culture in the team.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

How do you say? I'm an early riser trapped in the body of a late riser.
So it really costs me an effort every morning when the light alarm clock beams at me. The English philosopher and economist Richard Whately once wrote: "Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it." I think he's sadly right. The magical calm in the morning simply helps me to structure and concentrate on getting things done.

I also take time at least every other day for a "press review" on current developments around online platforms, marketplaces, ecosystems, e-commerce or digitalisation in general. LinkedIn is also indispensable for the exchange with other experts.

At 10 a.m. we go to the Daily (Standup Meeting) of our Business Development Team. There we discuss what happened the day before, what everyone has on their radar for the day, whether there are things we need to reprioritise and, of course, whether anyone needs help or feedback on a topic. This is usually followed by a block for further internal coordination or (video) calls with clients and partners.

For lunch, we usually meet as a team at the so-called "huddle" (joint video lunch with a topic of the day), either from the kitchen in Jena or from our beloved sun terrace.

In the afternoon and evening hours, I then try to work off as much of the prio list as possible in "deep work" blocks.
But sometimes, of course, reality just comes around the corner and then everything goes differently. But that's what makes it so varied and exciting.

If you were to start up again, would you do it the same way?

Oh, God's no! (Laughs). No, I don't know any entrepreneurs who would do it all over again. You learn a lot on the journey. In retrospect, I notice how much we have been educated by the education system to a certain way of thinking, which is often not very practical. Sure, there were lectures on corporate strategy and leadership, but a lot of it was about big companies and the perspective of managers. Nobody teaches you what the reality of entrepreneurs looks like. Not even that there is a significant difference between the roles of entrepreneurs and managers. What are my wishes and dreams? How can I bring them together with our vision? How do I choose the right employees? How do I motivate them? How do I lead? How do I hand over? What are the levels of delegation? I tried really hard to start early and gather practical experience, but some things would have been really helpful during my studies - and not only for future entrepreneurs.

Today we exchange a lot in communities with other entrepreneurs and learn from each other. And we try to pass on knowledge and experience to young founders. Together with some other mentors, we founded the Startup Community Thüringen and meet once a month somewhere in Thuringia. At the meetups, we pass on tips, exchange ideas or discuss concrete projects and ideas.

If you are interested in the topic of "Learnings", I would be happy to tell you more about it in person, but that would go beyond the scope of this article.

What do you wish for the future?

I'll leave (world) politics, climate and so on out of it for now - otherwise it would be too much.

On a small scale, it is important to me that everyone in the team is doing well. Firstly, because we really like each and every one of them and we really care about our team. And secondly, it is also clear that a team that is not doing well will not enjoy its work as much and that, in the long run, this will naturally have an impact on quality. There is no shortage of individual challenges these days - #VUCA-World. For us, this means that we have to constantly find good and flexible solutions. This starts with the famous home office vs. office discussion and goes all the way to the question of how we deal with stress as a team and individually. Personally, I don't believe in one-fits-all solutions. People are simply very different. From their character to their experience in dealing with stress and problems. We try to find individual and flexible solutions in exchange with each other.

On the business side, I would of course like to push our product development topics further. We want to support more companies for which a standard solution is not enough. Be it a special marketplace, a portal or a special online shop.
I enjoy pushing this forward together with our partner network. We deliberately do this together with other experts because we believe that this is how better solutions are created for our customers and their users - when specialists take care of the individual areas in a concerted manner. Be it (online) marketing, ecosystem design, consulting, logistics - or, as in our case, special software. We have seen the "we can do everything" promises of some salesperson fail too often.

And finally, why wunschlösung and not another company?

I don't understand the question (laughs).

Seriously, I've had the opportunity to look into a lot of companies. Nowhere is perfect - not even with us. But I think we have the opportunity to quickly change things that bother us or that can be done better.

And I believe that each and every one of us can contribute to creating enormously good online platforms that in turn help people to build new business models or make everyday work easier.

I find that enormously exciting and it motivates me a lot.

Thank you, Christian!

Would you like to know more?
Find out here how the foundation of wunschlösung came about, or take a look at our team page. You can also get to know other wunschlösers on our blog.

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