London Startup Story – Maulik Sailor from Innovify

Due to the fact that London is Europe’s startup hub, it is only logical that there are many startups, accelerators, incubators, investors and co-working spaces, offering startup-specific services. With regards to this, I want to present Maulik Sailor with his company Innovify, which has found its niche within the crowded techcity.

 V: What is the core business of your company?

M: Innovify is a product management company (a.k.a product foundry) for early stage startups. We work with them to develop new products. We take care of all the technical and non-technical aspects. We offer tools & frameworks, man-power and product management, design and development expertise, which helps them to scale efficiently. We are operative for four years and now employ 100 people with many operatives in India.

V: How would you describe yourself in just three words?

M: Entrepreneurial, passionate, hard-working.

V: Could you tell me a little bit about your education and previous work experience.

M: I have done my MBA at the Imperial College, London. My Master degree is from Brunel University. My engineering Bachelor from India. I have worked in many places, small and big companies. I worked for Nokia, Microsoft, Wall Street Journal, BBC and others. I have a good mix of experience. My role in most companies was related to product management.

V: Would you say that your previous experiences made you entrepreneurial or were you before? Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

M: Both probably. I always wanted to start a business. When I entered the job market, I was just too comfortable with a well-paying job, but it gave me the required experience. So Innovify could be established through my experiences working for all those companies.

V: Did you try to found before?

M: Yes, I have tried to do it twice. One software development company many years ago, but it did not go anywhere. And a product based startup during my MBA, but I faced too many problems. Innovify was the outcome of those problems.

V: What was the single most important motivator to be an entrepreneur and found for the third time?

M: There were a few. Money was among them, but not the one. I always wanted to be in control of what I am doing, instead of working for someone else. Power.

Also I wanted to have an impact on others people’s lives. By having a successful foundry, we make startups and employees successful. We would be launching a social enterprise programme soon, so it is really about impact.

V: Did you have backing from family and friends? During your first startup, when you failed.

M: No, they did not know about it.

V: And now with the third startup, how did they react? Did they support or even fund you?

M: It was all personal effort. My parents did not learn about the company for two years. I never asked help from my parents. Of course they support me. I started on my own, without external money and co-founder. After pivoting and refinements, I had three friends, Ruchit, Vikas and Prakash, who joined me as my co-founders in Innovify.

V: Why didn’t you tell your parents for two years?

M: Like any other parents, they would worry a lot unnecessarily. When I started Innovify I had a lot of uncertainty. I left my job, did my MBA and incurred personal debt. So it was really stressful and I didn’t want my parents to worry needlessly.

V: Since you mentioned co-founders. Why did you decide to take your friends on board? Were they providing different skills?

M: The reason is that I know my co-founders for fifteen years and we all bring very different skills to the table. I set up the direction, I am the visionary and get my hands dirty, getting things done. Another does the code and gets it done. Nothing can stop him. And the other is more operational and financial. He digs into details and can establish good networks and connect. We also have different experiences in life and different backgrounds, but a common reason. We are on the same page regarding what we want for our company.

Ruchit, Vikas & Maulik

Ruchit, Vikas & Maulik

V: What was the reason for starting up in London?

M: Outside US or Silicon Valley, London is the best place for founding a startup. The reason for London are also government regulations. It is just the best place in Europe and better than Asia, but probably not as good as the US. Second thing is the multi-cultural environment. You find people from all over the world with different experiences. People in London are here, because they want to achieve something in their life!

V: How would you describe the differences between Indian and UK startup environment?

M: UK is very good, positive, investment – and startup friendly. India is a very different market. Developing a startup is a very difficult endeavour, because you do not have support. Financial risk is huge, because it is hard to find investment. And if you do, the terms are very aggressive.  Recently it is changing. There are some good startups recently and the government is a lot more supportive. Now it is a little easier in India, but not as easy as in the UK or US.

V: What would be your most important advice that you can give other entrepreneurs?

M: Keep calm and carry on. That is the most important one.

V: If you could choose one entrepreneur to meet. Who would it be?

M: I think I could choose many, because there are many good examples. I think Bill Gates is great as a person. There are also some great Indian entrepreneurs. But as an industrialist, if I had to pick one, I would choose Ratan Tata, former CEO of Tata. He is just great, social, innovative and a very humble human. He would be my inspiration.

V: Do you have one favourite book about entrepreneurship or marketing?

M: To be honest, I have never read any books. I am just not into it.  I do not have the patience to read a book. Though, I have recently started using Blinkist App, just what I needed.

V: And what about blogs?

M: Yes, I read different blogs, but not a favourite one that I could recommend. Harvard Business Review articles are pretty good. offers also great articles and I like Forbes.

V: Thank you so much.

M: Likewise. Talk to you soon.

London Startup Story – Victoria Albrecht from Food Startup School Ltd.

In this article I have the pleasure to introduce Victoria Albrecht, who is not only considered as one of London’s top female founders under 30, but was invited to the Female Founders Y Combinator conference 2015. She is also the founder of Food Startup School Ltd., which organises the biggest food startup events in London and is constantly expanding; most recently Victoria and her co-founder Nadia El Hadery, who owns the food startup Flavrbox, announced London Food Tech Week 2015. As in the previous articles, I will not put her startup successes into the limelight, but focus mainly on her entrepreneurial journey that took her from Germany to Scotland and then the capital of England.

The Company – Food Startup School

Viktor: Could you briefly describe the core business of Food Startup School?

Victoria: We connect food and food tech entrepreneurs to the right opportunities and skills to help them build, grow and scale their businesses. We do this via conferences, masterclasses, hackathons as well as content, and we create exceptional networking experiences. We’ve recently been focusing heavily on Food Tech and we’ve announced that we will be running London Food Tech Week 2015.

Viktor: Are you a solo founder or do you have co-founders?

Victoria: I was a solo founder for 6 months, but recently some amazing people joined my team. Now I have my co-founder Nadia El Hadery and an extended team of about 5 people plus freelancers as well as partners. My co-founder and I run the partnerships and business development alongside two experienced PR gurus who have joined the team as well. We also have separate amazing event teams for projects during London Food Tech Week. It’s more fun when you’re more people!

Victoria Albrecht - Founder of Food Startup School Ltd.

Victoria Albrecht – Founder of Food Startup School Ltd.

Viktor: When did you found the company?

Victoria: I founded the company in July 2014.

The Entrepreneurial Journey

Viktor: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Victoria: Two come to my mind at the moment. Ambitious and positive. Third one I do not know, maybe adventurous.

Viktor: Could you tell me a little about your education and how did you end up founding?

Victoria: Originally, I am from Bad Homburg, a town close to Frankfurt, Germany, but I did my Bachelor’s degree in St. Andrews. I studied there for an MA in Psychology and Management from 2010-2014. Now, I live in London which is a great an environment. It is multicultural, I like it here a lot.

When I was in St. Andrew I co-founded a Food Festival, which I ran for two years. It started as a small project with friends that got terrible feedback in the first year. So I had an opportunity to really turn it around and created, with a great team, a substantial event with a lot of traction. It was a lot of fun, so this inspired me to stay in the food industry and work for myself.

I think the midst of Scottish vs English entrepreneurs – in London anyways – is quite different, Londoners tend to think bigger and tech plays a stronger role here. So I decided to move to London.

Viktor: In what way is it different then? Were there other reasons for you to go to London?

Victoria: Well, the businesses I got to know were all staying the same and did not even try to scale. Another reason for going to London was that I had a lot of friends there.  Furthermore, I had been remotely working in a tech startup which was based in London, so I wanted to see for myself how an office presence would be. Since I did not really like it, I decided to quit, which was a clean slate for me.

Viktor: And how did you find your way into the food startup scene?

Victoria: It was obvious to me that I wanted to work in the food startup scene. So I wanted to learn about it and attended as many events as possible that were relevant. I went to general startup events, tech events and meetups, so I slowly learned about the scene. Then I went to food festivals and just asked the startups if they could tell me a little about their entrepreneurial journey. Then I asked them: “What are your challenges? What are you struggling with?” So I could learn what kind of solution they would need. I wanted to develop something that really adds value to the scene.

There is a part that I do not really like to speak off, but it is part of my story. I partnered with a business to host a joint event, but in the end they did not live up to their promises and claimed that all work I have done was theirs. It was really shocking and so I decided to do it on my own, but just better and more professional. This was probably the tipping point!

Viktor: Did you have any alternatives or other business ideas?

Victoria: Yes, parallel to my idea for Food Startup School, I had an idea for a tinder-style app to find flatmates, in London, because we have a particularly tough market here. After a while, more and more people were interested in the startup, which is a pretty luxurious “problem”. We even were admitted in the Cambridge accelerator and could create great partnerships, but food was always my true fascination. I got invited to the Y Combinator conference in Silicon Valley. Then we met investors and in San Francisco I got a nightmare. It was that the investor, whom I should meet next day, would give me a lot of money and I would have to close Food Startup School. But I was not really ready to do it.

Now I wake up every morning and I look forward to my work. It was also a nice coincidence that my advisor, who wanted to support the property app, said that he is a real foodie and is supporting not just the idea but me as a person. I just enjoy the startup vibe. The entire scene is just so vivid and constructive. I just wanted to do it. Not because being an entrepreneur is cool, but because it is important to me that I am happy with what I do most during the day.

Viktor: It is the same for me.

Victoria: My parents are both entrepreneurs, so I wasn’t raised with certain things, like “We cannot take holidays”. I was just raised in an entrepreneurial environment.

Reversal of Roles

While conducting the interview we realised that we had a common friend, which led us to talk a little off-topic. For a short moment we switched the roles of interviewer and interviewee.

Victoria: How did you become interested in founding?

Viktor: Well, when I was doing my Bachelor, I founded sonicpool with my buddy Sebastian from school, which was a good learning experience. Since then, I have discussed many business ideas with other founders, so I decided to professionalise it.  Now, I run my consulting business with international clients from Germany, the UK, Italy and Turkey and a great network of people who can create everything a startup needs. At first I started on my own, but now we can offer everything from the design, financial, marketing and technical side. I also co-founded two other projects, one of them, which is called Whatsfancy, will launch soon and will change the way people shop clothes in a simple and user-friendly way.

Victoria: Awesome.  And why did you do your Master in Oxford?

Viktor: University is just a safe environment to test ideas, which is pretty useful.

Victoria: Yeah, no one says then what a looser when it not works out. It is just super convenient.

Viktor: You are absolutely right. Did your parents encourage you?

Victoria: Yes, my dad said always that he wants me to do something that I love. But sometimes he proposed a corporate career, especially when I was doing my internship at Rolls – Royce.

Victoria’s Tips

Viktor: And was there a certain favourite book on your entrepreneurial journey that influenced you?

Victoria: Yes, one from Richard Branson, which is called “Like a Virgin”.

Viktor: And do you have a favourite blog?

Victoria: I like to read Seth Godin’s works.

Viktor: What is the coolest location in London to meet like-minded people?

Victoria: I would say that Google Campus is the place to go. Maybe also to some co-working spaces, where you chat with other founders.

Viktor: Thank you for the lovely interview! Talk to you soon.

Victoria: You are welcome. Talk to you soon.

London Food Tech Week 2015

If you are a food startup or are interested in meeting aspiring entrepreneurs, then join London Food Tech Week 2015!

Vienna Startup Story – Jakob Zenz from Mingel

One of the perks of being a marketing consultant and entrepreneur in Oxford is the lively startup ecosystem here. In order to give voice to aspiring entrepreneurs, I decided to host an interview series which I named Startup Stories. Goal is not to promote a startup, but to really get to know the entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial journey. The London startup scene is the most active in Europe. It attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world, which is why I want to start the series with Jakob Zenz, one of the four founders, of Mingel, which is actually based in Vienna, Austria.

logo viktor

V: Could you briefly describe the mission of your startup?

J: It’s a personalised event platform which recommends to you the most suitable events in your area! Please check out our video on YouTube here.

V: How does it work?

J: We have an underlying scoring-model which ranks the events according to your interests and is able to learn over time, which means it delivers to you more relevant events each day!

V: What is your function at Mingel?

J: I am responsible for marketing, accounting, acquisition of new business partners and pitching for our pre-seed round, hence the business side.

V: Who did come up with the idea?

J: My good friend Valentin and I had the idea four years ago, but we only started developing one year ago with two additional co-founders, Stefan and Martin.

V: So what is your background? Tell me a little bit about yourself

J: I turned 23 this year and I currently live in the Netherlands. I graduated in Vienna, but I am originally from Salzburg. After school I did an internship with Porsche in Salzburg and last year another internship with an investment firm in London. Affinity towards finance could be traced back to my family, but I always wanted to create something on my own. I currently do a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Maastricht in Business Economics.

V: How is remote working for you, since you are in Holland and the other three are in Austria?

J: It works quite nice to be honest. We use Slack, which makes communication and collaboration a bit easier. After university I want to take time to work on Mingel and spend the summer full-time with my co-founders.

V: So how did you end up as an entrepreneur?

J: Four years ago one of my current co-founders and I, had a similar idea to Tinder, but did not pursue it. After it took off without us, we promised ourselves that we would pursue the next idea. And since we had a lot of disappointing experiences with events and also missed out on a lot of interesting events, we wanted to create an application that personalises the event experience for every single user. After discussing all relevant aspects, such as funding, we decided to go for it it about one and a half years ago.

V: Was there a single most important motivator to become an entrepreneur?

J: There was no epiphany, but I always wanted to develop something on my own instead of working for someone else. Ideally a product, which makes life easier for others.

V: Was it money, power, freedom or maybe something else?

J: No, it was more the creative process, to build something from scratch.

V: Would you leave University for the sake of your company?

J: I would rather not, because I think it provides you a good background understanding of how our economy works. But if it would be absolutely necessary, I would not hesitate to leave University.

V: Did you have support from friends and family?

J: My father is very rational and did not take my work very seriously in the beginning, because he was used to me having a lot of ideas without having an actual plan. But since he could later see the actual development, I gained the support from my parents.

V: How would you describe yourself in three words?

J: Open-minded, ambitious and adventurous!

V: What is your experience or impression about the startup environment in Vienna and in Maastricht? Is it a supportive environment?

J: To be honest, Maastricht is very small and most startup related events are organised by the University. In Vienna on the other side, we have a developing ecosystem with co-working spaces, accelerators, business angels etc. If you attend an event, you always meet someone who will approach you later or who has another useful contact. You get to know the scene rather quickly, which is also very comfortable for building a network. But I think that Austria is still a tough market, because most people are quite sceptical and conservative compared to Berlin, London or Silicon Valley.

V: And do you have any “travel-tips” for aspiring entrepreneurs, where to meet entrepreneurial, like-minded people in Vienna?

J: There are awesome events organised at Sector Fünf or by Austrian Startups

V: What would be your most important advice to other founders?

J: Implement a vesting structure in your contract, so that the founders do not get all equity at once, but have to reach certain milestones, which keeps everyone motivated and loyal to the business. Be sure regarding your team, which has to be fully committed to the business. One additional advice would be to not found with more than four people.

V: Is there a certain entrepreneurial role-model you would love to meet?

J: Yes, Elon Musk from Tesla. He is a great guy. I would ask him what he eats for breakfast 😉

V: Do you have a recommendation for a good book regarding startups?

J: I rather prefer to read personal blogs about startups, but of course there are the biographies of Steve Jobs from Apple and Dietrich Mateschitz from Red Bull. And I must say that stories of startups that failed are more interesting than success stories, because you can learn from them and their mistakes.

V: Since you mentioned blogs. Do you have a favourite one?

J: I just search for startup related keywords on and read blogs there. But I do not have a specific blogger that I follow.

team pic

After conversing for a while Jakob took over and we switched roles:

J: Do you have a tip about what most startups fail to do in the beginning and what haunts them later?

V: Yes, indeed. Many startups fail to collect data from the start on, which makes it harder later on to implement a properly functioning data analysis system. I recommend to collect as much data as possible from the beginning, not only basic customer-data or results from A/B-Tests in marketing, but also communicational patterns with customers in Social Media or used Hashtags on Twitter. Later on you can evaluate your texts with its impact and might anaylse the unstructured data with bag-of-words algorithms in order to optimise your communication.

J: Something else?

V: Actually yes. I came across some founders who were very knowledgeable regarding their product, but had no understanding about marketing, sales and business development, which is equally important. In a lean startup, which most startups are in a way, every cent not spent on marketing has to be compensated by the creativity and relevance of the marketing communications.

J: Luckily, we are a team which consists of co-founders with different, but complimentary skill-sets. We have techies as well as business people.

V: Thank you for you time it was a pleasure!

J: Likewise, talk to you soon.

If you want to try their app, you can download it here for Android or iOS!

The next blogs will be all about London based startups, so stay tuned, like and share!

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

In Conversation With Peter Thiel @ University of Oxford

‘The next Bill Gates will not create an operating system, the next Larry Page will not create a search engine and the next Mark Zuckerberg will not create a social medium!’

The Secret OF Entrepreneurial Success

What is the secret to entrepreneurial super-success? Is there a formula for innovation or certain traits that make up a good entrepreneur?

As part of the Distinguished Speaker Seminar series, Peter Thiel came to the Saïd Business School in order to lead an inspirational talk with Professor of Strategy, Teppo Felin, who is also a former venture capitalist.

Peter Thiel & Teppo Felin (Source: by author)

Peter Thiel & Teppo Felin (Source: by author)

The short answer to these pressing questions is ‘no’. There is neither a magic formula nor certain traits that guarantee success, but there are commonalities which successful entrepreneurs over-proportionally share.

Teppo Felin started the conversation by inquiring about the questions that Peter Thiel asks every entrepreneur. – If you can answer one of the following questions, then you are on the right track –

  • What is a great company no one is starting? (Business version)
  • What great investment does nobody like? (Investor version)
  • What worthwhile, but unpopular cause is not funded? (Non-profit version)
  • What is something that is true, but nobody agrees with you upon? (Intellectual Version)

Answering one of those questions will solve not only a problem of humanity, but also open the door to a billion dollar company. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between delusion and truth, when answering these world-changing questions.

Assuming that an answer to one of the above mentioned questions is not delusional, it all depends on the execution. It is common knowledge that timing and luck play a role on the way to success, but they cannot really be influenced. Regarding ‘luck’, Peter Thiel provocatively stated that it is only for the lazy and cannot be empirically tested, which makes further addressing redundant.

Nevertheless, he provided valuable tips for a diligent execution and practical entrepreneurialism, which shall be summarised next.

What Peter Thiel Is Looking For

Since he is only investing in tech-companies, your idea should solve a grand problem with great technology. Furthermore, you should ideally have a business strategy which aims for a monopoly position in the market. Adding to this, you should have a great team, because most great ideas need more than one person for execution.

If you should achieve to get an appointment with Peter Thiel and pitch your idea to him, it is likely that he will ask you about your team history. In the best case you should know your co-founder for a couple of years and should have complimentary skill-sets.

The Founding Team

As alluded above, a founding team should have complimentary skill-sets. This does not only mean that one co-founder should be responsible for the business-side and the other one for technology. It implies that co-founders are in some dimensions very similar and in other very different. Peter Thiel expanded his thought by explaining that there should be differences within the team, whereas the outside regards the team as unified but different from the rest of world. This state can only be achieved if the founding team has a common vision and mission. Furthermore, it is vital that all roles are sharply differentiated in order to avoid conflicts when working on the same task but having different opinions.

Lean Or Not-Lean?

‘If you you have a dumb idea it is important to change it, but it is not virtuous to have a bad idea in the beginning!’

The rather ‘philosophical’ question whether to build or test, cannot be answered monosyllabically. According to Peter Thiel, there are customer-centric lean startups, which are successful, as well as companies which develop a final product relying on business secrets.

The risk of using a lean approach is the constant testing, because the limited resources of a startup (capital and time) will not suffice to test the entire search space. By choosing this nihilistic knowledge approach, lean entrepreneurs tend to default too much, because they loose themselves in constant A/B-testing.

Peter Thiel recommends a good analytical framework with limited tests, only starting A/B-testing when fine-tuning the final product.

Startup Incubators & Accelerator Programs

Peter Thiel quoted a venture capitalist acquaintance of him, whose competitive advantage is to lie to entrepreneurs about the things he could do for their startup. Obviously he positively mentioned Y Combinator as the best place to go, which is comparable to an elite university. But if you go to one of the 50 incubators in the UK, it could mean the opposite, that your business is not good enough to solve the problems on its own.

Startup Recruiting & Corporate Culture

‘If you define corporate culture as an HR person would, then it is evidence that you do not have a culture at all.’

In Peter Thiel’s eyes, corporate culture is not an artificial environment consisting of ping-pong tables and lava lamps, but the unifying mission.

Peter Thiel (Source: by author)

Peter Thiel (Source: by author)

Peter Thiel’s Thoughts On Entrepreneurial Education

In reality our entire educational system and knowledge dissemination is based on teaching things that most, or all, people agree upon, which does not leave much room for unconventional thoughts. For that reason Teppo Felin mentioned the essay ‘The Crowd is Untruth’ by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who argues that the crowd tends to go after things that are overvalued. Peter Thiel agreed and stated that he is sceptical about psycho-social crowd manias, which have led to horrible political movements or happenings like the financial crisis. Thus, he refers to his book ‘Zero to One’ as the antithesis to James Surowiecki’s ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’. *

In this context he exemplified that a study at Harvard Business School revealed that the career wishes of the majority of prospective graduates correlated with the “decay” of these industries. In 1998 the largest proportion of graduates wanted to work for Michael Milken, who developed junk-bonds and was pleaded guilty on felony for violating U.S. securities law. In 1999/2000 the majority wanted to join internet companies, just before of the burst of the dotcom-bubble.

He elaborated the paradox of teaching innovation and entrepreneurship, which are based on unconventional thinking but are forced into a linear environment, posing limitations to the necessary cognitive processes. Then he added that science always starts with a number two, which means that it can be repeated, whereas innovation starts as a one.

Having mentioned the paradoxes about ‘learning’ entrepreneurship or innovation, there are certain paradoxical traits that successful entrepreneurs have in common. Peter Thiel explained his thought by stating that some of them have diametrically opposed qualities, which are not yet contradictory.  Meaning that entrepreneurs should be stubborn, but open-minded, and inside as well as outside of the conventional system.

End Note

In conclusion, it can be said that Peter Thiel came across certain traits that successful entrepreneurs have, but that these traits are unlikely to be taught in our current academic environment. Due to this fact it is vital that aspiring entrepreneurs transcend conventional paths of thinking and go through the world with open eyes.

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

*Peter Thiel criticises the ‘Wisdom of Crowd’ theory due to the fact that crowds often tend to make decision under influence, which leads to herd mentality, resulting in happenings such as financial crises etc. Under perfect condition the ‘Wisdom of Crowd’ theory seems to be valid, which was proven in the ‘Diversity Prediction Theorem’ by Scott Page in 2007.

Diversity Prediction Theorem (Source: by author based on Scott Page (2007))

Diversity Prediction Theorem (Source: by author based on Scott Page (2007))

In real life it is unlikely that decisions are made without influence, which reduces the validity of the model.

Online Marketing in the Real (Estate) World

I have not encountered one important branch of the economy that has such substandard online marketing as the real estate industry. When I last conducted an analysis of the online marketing efforts of 100 real estate developers in the United Kingdom in 2013, it almost made me cry.

There was a handful of international corporations and few SMEs which showed a rudimentary capability in the usage of social media or other online marketing tools. Even some websites were dating back to the early 90s. In order to make the data more representative I had decided to look at the German market as well.

Since the German marketing environment is usually lagging behind the United States and  the United Kingdom regarding new online tool adaptation, I did not expect much in the first place. My negative expectations were met: German real estate marketing was even more underdeveloped and antiquated than in the UK.

London a typical seller's market by David Marcu

London – a typical seller’s market by David Marcu

There were solely two real estate development companies who managed to provide decent online marketing. These two companies were apparently following the proverb: In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Why is that so?

1. The real estate industry is still not as professionalised as other industries of that scale. This is especially true for the German real estate market, which was recognised for its stability and quietness for decades. Just recently the German market is picking up. Along with this macroeconomic development, new real estate specialised academic courses started to emerge which professionalise the industry.  –> However, there are still many lateral entrants who do not necessarily have an academic understanding of the real estate industry’s business side.

2. Since the real estate industry is very complex compared to other industries, marketers with no real estate background cannot really address the needs of the different actors such as real estate developers, investors, building companies, contractors, financial institutions and users in an adequate way!

3. Various categories of real estate such as commercial, special-purpose or industrial properties as well as residential real estate require different marketing strategies!

4. The most prominent transactions in the real estate industry are made in the B2B environment, which suffers generally from slightly worse online marketing adaptation than B2C markets, –> Good online marketing can only be found in the B2C sector which is dominated by a myriad of estate agents, who mostly do not have the aforementioned academic understanding.

5. Some of the negligence regarding marketing, especially online marketing can be traced back to fundamental economic reasons. –> There exist buyer’s as well as seller’s markets which deviate heavily! –> In a seller’s market, with an undersupply of properties, it is easy to market real estate, which makes marketing a nice-to-have addendum. –> Contrary to a seller’s market, a buyer’s market requires sophisticated marketing activities, specifically addressing the needs of potential customers.

Having elaborated those points, it becomes obvious that each company needs a tailor-made online marketing strategy which fits to the market and type of property. The only thing consistent is the need for a decent website, which is why it should be addressed first.

If you are active in the real estate industry, here is a small checklist for your own website that you can send directly to me for evaluation or just do it for yourself:

In case you need a lean growth strategy for your business, please contact me via or leave me your e-mail in the checkup form below, so that I can contact you with an adequate solution!

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

7 Easy Steps To Do A Smoke-Test

Dear Startup-Lovers and Future Entrepreneurs,

You are probably familiar with the viral blog +300 Awesome Free Things or similar articles, where relevance and quality heavily differ. Truth is that there are thousands of awesome tools out there that you could use to help your startup grow. But which ones are really relevant to you and how to use them?

Before you spend time reading through all blog articles which present awesome, and sometimes mediocre tools for startups, here is the deal: I will present you 7 easy steps and some selected tools that can help to validate your business idea.

Before you worry about scaling and ultimate growth-hacking, you plainly need to know if people would want your solution or not. Do not waste time on other things. Obviously it would be advised to do some preliminary market research before conducting the following steps, but this is your entrepreneurial freedom.


If you are not good at programming or just do not want to spend time to figure out which plugins are best suited for you, use It is easy and free. Of course you have limited choices, but since you only want to test your idea, do not worry too much.

2. Hipster Logo Generator

You do not necessarily need a logo for a smoke test, but it is good to have some drafts. You can easily configure a set of free logos with the Hipster Logo Generator and test which of these logos is the most appealing one. Early stage A/B testing.

3. Wufoo

I am surprised that I did not find Wufoo among the awesome free tools for startups, because it is really awesome. Just create a free survey with Wufoo and embed it on your free WordPress website. Here is an example 😉

4. Unsplash

In case you want to make a good impression and use awesome, high-resolution pictures, then go to Unsplash. Using free pictures or logos always comes with the risk of violating intellectual property. Thus, I would recommend to at least state the source and photographers name on your website. In the best case, get the permission to use the picture or borrow a camera and make the picture yourself.

Photo by Ramiro Checci (Source:

Photo by Ramiro Checchi (Source:

5. Social Media (Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn)

There are literally thousands of relevant, vivid and inspiring groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, which maybe even consist of your possible target group. Join these groups, pitch your idea and attach the link to your website, where people hopefully sign up or fill out the previous form. Tweet your website to potential early adopters or influencers, who might be interested in your solution.

Besides testing for your potential target group, it is always beneficial to get feedback from the various startup and entrepreneurship groups around the world. Personally, I am always positively surprised how much constructive feedback you can get.

6. Be Patient

Now what? The answer is: Wait and be patient, because you are surely not the only one who posts into the groups of concern. The length you have to wait depends on the critical mass you need to validate your idea. If you could launch a lean model with a minimum of fixed costs, then you could start working on your idea with only 100-150 potential leads. But if your idea requires a high amount of profit in order to be attractive, then you will have to wait a little longer and gather more leads.

7. Be Honest…

…to yourself and potential co-founders. Now you have reached a crossroads where you have to decide whether to pursue the idea and potentially invest a lot of time as well as money. Take some time to think about it! Most of the times the euphoria ceases after a couple of days and contemplation.

Feel free to comment your ways of conducting smoke-tests or post a question! In case you found the article useful, feel free to share and love the article!

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

Oxford Inspires – Advice from the “Extreme” Alistair Gosling (Chairman and CEO of Extreme & Drift Allstars)

– Love what you do –  Alistair Gosling (Chairman and CEO of Extreme & Drift Allstars)

Alistair Gosling, successful serial entrepreneur, current Chairman and CEO of Extreme as well as Drift Allstars, gave one advice no other entrepreneur usually does. A very valuable advice! Have an arbitration clause, good contracts and know the legal side of your business field.

Alistair Gosling

Alistair Gosling (EXTREME)

An arbitration clause enables your company to settle a legal issue outside of court. The exact parameters depend on the country you are in. You should be aware that having an arbitration clause is not a guarantee for an out-of-court settlement, only an option. Furthermore, you should be aware that if you want to extend the arbitration clause towards your consumers, you will have to get their consent in a separate document. It is generally advised to name the venue of arbitrage, language, number of arbiters and the substantive law applicable.

Every entrepreneurial topic is sexier than legal frameworks or reading legislative texts. Even un-sexier is being sued and losing your business in the worst case scenario. Depending on the country you are doing business in it is vital to have proper terms and conditions, data policy or private policy displayed on your website as well as your contracts, otherwise they could be invalid.

Thus, I want to extend Alistair Gosling’s advice of having an arbitration clause by adding a severability clause to every contract. This is very basic and if you already know it, all the better.

Furthermore, it is important for startups to know about intellectual property. Especially if you are in the technological, pharmaceutical or biotech sector your business idea might conflict with already existing patents. Check for this and get legal counsel if you are unsure.

If you have not fallen asleep till now, here comes some non-legal advice from Alistair Gosling:

  • Build an amazing team by incentivising your employees with equity and make them happy in their workplace environment
  • Know your consumers and optimise your consumer touch points constantly
  • Keep it simple and fast
  • Have unrelenting belief in your idea and make it happen
  • If you found your company with a co-founder make sure that you have a different, yet complementary skill-set and that you have the same moral compass

Saying this, I wish you all great ideas, exponential growth and a nice day!

Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s biggest entrepreneurship themed society, organised the annual conference Oxford Inspires in the Said Business School, which is part of the University of Oxford. For more blogs from this weekend, stay tuned and press the Facebook “Like”-button on your top right, please!

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

Oxford Inspires – Lessons from the amazing Emmet B. Keeffe III (Founder of iRise)

“Give back to society”  – Emmet B. Keeffe III –

I want to introduce this amazing entrepreneur with these noble words, because it is special to meet a successful business man, who is talking not solely about growth, but about society and interpersonal-relationships within the globalised business environment.

Emmet is not only the founder of iRise, but a resident expert at the Entrepreneurship Centre at the University of Oxford and involved in Formula 1 as well as Formula E, just to name a few. Due to my own involvement in the development process of a new e-racing car, I am a little biased towards the electronic future. But let’s not talk about race cars, let’s talk about the things aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from Emmet.

Lesson 1 – Adequate Problem & Market

A future Zuckerberg has to find not only a pressing problem, but provide an adequate remedy. Most entrepreneurs won’t disagree on this point, but maybe on the next. Emmet stated clearly that market size matters, which makes sense regarding scalability, potential growth and hence, return on investment. Other entrepreneurs argue that it would be reasonable alike to tap into a small niche-market in order to satisfy the niche demand. Ipso facto, your growth potential will be capped as long as you stay in this niche. The options you then would have are either developing the market, tapping into new markets or diversifying your solution range, which could affect the credibility of your brand. Tricky decisions!

One undisputed fact is that you have to either create a new market or provide a solution that is better, faster or cheaper, in order to be really successful. Does your solution fulfil these criteria?

Lesson 2 – Private Safety Net & Life Partner

Entrepreneurs have to deal with a lot unknown unknowns as you can read in the blog about Malcom Bell’s talk at Oxford Inspires 2015. Statistically 80% of all businesses fail, which makes it utterly important that you have a safety net. The safety net could obviously consist of your friends and family, but most important is your life partner. S/he has to be on board and support you, otherwise it will cause problems at home and in the business-sphere.

Lesson 3 – Good Co-Founder

A business partnership with your co-founder is like a marriage! These wise words of wisdom should not be ignored when starting your company, because a wrong partnership could doom your startup from the outset. Unfortunately is not enough to find a person you like, but ideally you should have complementary skill-sets, which should avoid friction in the long-run during decision processes.

Lesson 4 – World Class Team

Build an external team of advisors and mentors, who can help to validate your ideas and support you. With regards to your internal team, the most important component is your co-founder which was mentioned above. Furthermore, it is advised to hire only world class people that fit to your company. The first hires an entrepreneur makes are the most important ones, because they will impact your success immensely. One way to incentivise your employees is to include equity in their remuneration and to provide an amicable working environment.

Lesson 5 – Bootstrap or Third Party Investment

According to Emmet, bootstrapping is easy and slow, contrary to third party investments from Venture Capitalists (VCs), which are hard and fast. He elaborated this point by explaining that most VCs will only give you a short time-span to grow your business. In case of not meeting their expectations it could happen that the founder gets replaced by an external manager, which is the nightmare for every entrepreneur. Thus, it is important to be as diligent in choosing the right VC as in choosing the right life partner or co-founder. I would personally always try to bootstrap, grow slowly but sustainable and build a great team with like-minded, motivated employees.

The Last Lesson
• Work hard
• Be nice
• and have something to give you balance

Saying this, I wish you all great ideas, exponential growth and a nice day!

Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s biggest entrepreneurship themed society, organised the annual conference Oxford Inspires in the Said Business School, which is part of the University of Oxford. For more blogs from this weekend, stay tuned and press the Facebook “Like”-button on your top right, please!

Your Entrepreneurial Marketer

Oxford Inspires – Tips from the great Malcom Bell (Founder of Zaggora & Mailcloud)

“You don’t want to be a firework, you want to be a bonfire!”  – Malcom Bell – With these words, I want to introduce Malcom Bell, who growth-hacked his company Zaggora to $40m in just 18 months and launched his new startup mailcloud. He is not just a cool guy, with whom you want to drink a beer and discuss your business idea, but an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School. Furthmore, he speaks at Google and Facebook. Lean Startup is is a term familiar to every entrepreneur, which tells you to test the market before launching. Malcom gave the following valuable hints:

  • A startup needs SIGNIFICANT data which means 200 ≤ n
  • Bear in mind that people make up feedback in order to say something
  • Incentivise feedback by using vouchers, coupons, beta access to software
  • Prepare for unknown unknowns, because you will never know everything
  • Use Google Docs for cheap and easy surveys

Most entrepreneurs think that Lean is easy because you can launch a mininum viable product (MVP). According to Malcom , the M is often the only attribute of many startups, which makes it utterly important to “make your product stand out”! Most entrepreneurs dream about exponential growth and scalability, but actually you should focus on your customer. Malcom’s lesson: Look for early adopters, retent them and get as much feedback as possible from them. We all strive to reach perfect product market fit (PMF) when developing our solutions, but how do you know your PMF is any good? It is not all about growth, sales or other metrics, but mainly about the sentiment of your users. Look at the organic metrics and ask your consumers how they would feel if the could not purchase your solution anymore. If they are dissappointed you know that your PMF is on the right track.

Furthermore, I want to to share the books, blogs and websites Malcom Bell recommend during his amazing talk at Oxford Inspires 2015. Malcom’s website tips for your startup:

Malcom’s book recommendations:

  • Purple Cow – Seth Godin
  • Crossing the chasm – Geoff Moore
  • Positioning – Al Ries
  • Managing Startups – Tom Eisenmann
  • Hooked – Nir Eyal
  • Startup Owners Manual – Steve Blank
  • Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  • Traction – Gabriel Weinberg
  • Lean Analytics – Ben Yoskovitz

Malcom’s favourite blogs:

For more useful info from Malcom Bell, just follow him on Twitter @malcombell! Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s biggest entrepreneurship themed society, organised the annual conference Oxford Inspires in the Said Business School, which is part of the University of Oxford. For more blogs from this weekend, stay tuned and press the Facebook “Like”-button  on your top right, please! I wish you all great ideas, exponential growth and a lots of luck, Your Entrepreneurial Marketer