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Making It Real

Making It Real

By Jan Brinckmann
For founders who take action. Learn how our guests are building their world-changing companies - no noise, no fluff.
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#22 David Nothacker, CEO & Co-Founder of sennder | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann

Making It Real

#30 Malte Scholz, Co-founder and CEO at airfocus | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Interesting episode guest in the Making It Real Podcast for all the product enthusiastists out there: Malte Scholz, product manager specialized in the SaaS and mobile tech space. He is Co-founder and CEO at airfocus, a prioritization and roadmapping software for product teams and decision makers. Malte shares with us his top techniques to prioritize features, to decide on the first product version and to build the best-possible roadmap for your product. We also cover the tricks of balancing customer needs and the challenges of scaling development teams. 00:00 Intro 00:50 How Malte joined the entrepreneurship space 3:50 Building a first version of a product 5:10 Time until launching a first version 6:25 What does airfocus do? 8:10 Feature prioritization as a product manager 11:35 What framework should I use for prioritization 13:10 Staying on track with the product roadmap 14:55 Challenges that founders face in product development 16:40 What should go into a first version? 19:15 Balancing customer needs 21:15 Assessing the impact of the next release 24:20 Hiring and sustaining a great team 27:55 Quick fire round: Person Malte admires the most | What is so broken that entrepreneurs should fix immediately | Technology that will transform the future | Favourite management concept 32:50 Closing
November 23, 2021
#29 Stephan Schambach, Serial Entrepreneur and E-commerce Pioneer | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
In today's episode we welcome Stephan Schambach, serial entrepreneur building market changing companies in the e-commerce space. Prior to his current software NewStore, providing Ominchannel-as-a-Service, Stephan launched Intershop and Demandware that was acquired for $2.8 billion by Salesforce. They say timining is everything, when launching a business. But what is the secret to get it right? How to narrow down focus and go big, when there are so many exciting opportunities? And once launched, how to find your first customers? He answers all these questions and shares his take on the NFT space as well as on the European investment ecosystem. 0:00 Intro 1:00 The energy that powers Stephan 03:03 Stephan's passion for building companies internationally 06:20 The challenges of starting international companies in Europe 09:30 Finding ideas for new ventures and executing them 14:00 How to determine the right time for launching a startup 18:10 The influence of the first customer 21:10 How to find the first customer 22:30 Trends to watch out for in the ecommerce space 25:30 Stephan's take on opportunities with NFTs 27:45 Raising venture capital in Europe and building a European tech stock exchange 32:45 Quick fire round: Middlename | Something broken that entrepreneurs should fix immediately | Technology that will transform the future | Core concept 33:52 Closing
November 02, 2021
#28 David Heinemeier Hansson, Creator of Ruby on Rails, Co-founder of HEY and Basecamp | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
This episode presents David Heinemeir Hansson, Founder and CTO of Ruby on Rails, HEY, and Basecamp. David is not just a prominent entrepreneur but also the author of four best-seller books as well as class-winning race-car driver. We take a deep dive into building up one of the leading web development tools as well as the core activities to stay relevant in the tech community. He shares with us his take on work-life balance while handling several projects at the same time. Listen to the full episode to hear more about his journey and insightful tips. 00:00 Introduction 01:05 David's journey as a business student to open-source web development 04:30 Core ingredients for a successful web development framework 06:55 Most effective way to showcase a tech product 10:30 Staying relevant in a community 14:00 David's passion for Ruby on Rails 16:45 Focusing on one vs. balancing several projects 25:30 David's take on the 80 hours work week and his experience as a book author and competitive race car driver 30:45 Quick fire round: middle name - what entrepreneurs should fix immediately - technology that will transform the future - software recommendation - core concept 33:25 Closing
September 29, 2021
#27 Vivien Dollinger, CEO of ObjectBox | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
In this episode we welcome a female founder in the tech space, Vivien Dollinger who co-founded ObjectBox, a database management provider for developers. Vivien's entrepreneurial journey started as a side project that became a high-growh potential company and was along the very few of #Techstars cohorts. Some of the questions we cover: When is the right moment to turn side project to launch? How to get traction in the tech community at start? Why is a tech co-founder important despite the fast growing world of no/low code tools for early product development? If you are about to turn your idea and make it real, this episode is definitely worth to listen! 00:00 Intro 00:55 Does research qualify one for entrepreneurship? 02:53 Vivien's journey to the startup space 07:50 Financing and building a successful team 08:55 Vivien's pitch for ObjectBox 10:05 The need for having great technical people in-house 13:05 Obtaining traction and the long way to getting first sustainable revenues while keeping the motivation high 17:45 Finding and selecting a first investor through Techstars 19:55 What it takes to grow adoption and foster growth with an open source product 25:55 How to develop a great developer community 28:45 Vivien's advice to her younger self - the right balace between focusing on the venture and other parts of life 31:19 Quick fire round: Favourite management concept - underdog software tool - dream job if not heading a tech company 35:01 Outro
September 07, 2021
#26 Jeff Clavier, Founder and Managing Partner of Uncork Capital | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Jeff Clavier began investing into early stage ventures more than twenty years ago and have supported several teams that have reached successful outcomes, among others Eventbrite, Fitbit or Postmates. He has founded Uncork Capital in 2004, one of the most prominent seed funds based in Palo Alto with over $500m under management. In today's episode, he shares with us the current and hottest investment areas he focuses on and why he is passionate about B2B SaaS enterprises. Also, he gives us his take on the current state of the European start-up ecosystem and his advice on avoiding the three most common mistakes made by early stage founders both in the ideation as well as in the product building phase. 00:00 Introduction 0:50 Why and how Jeff joined the entrepreneurship world 02:35 Jeff's reasons for moving to the US & becoming a VC 05:45 The first investment in the time of the Web 2.0 & impressive returns 11:25 Investment hypothesis: Coming from seed investments to also having a growth fund 13:55 On which sectors Jeff focuses his investments 15:35 The opportunity for B2B SaaS companies 17:05 Jeff's view on the European start-up ecosystem 22:50 Advices for founders in the early stage 25:30 How to find the right idea for starting a start-up 27:10 Common mistakes made by founders 29:35 After having the idea - how to build the product 32:45 Jeff's personal advice for getting into the entrepreneurship space 34:28 Quick fire round: Thing Jeff is most proud of; most useful software tool; what would Jeff be if not a VC 38:15 Closing
August 16, 2021
#25 Saul Klein, General Partner at LocalGlobe | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Saul Klein, serial entrepreneur and prominent seed investor in the global tech scene, has co-founded numerous game-changing businesses such as LocalGlobe, Seedcamp, Kano, Zinc or Lovefilm (acquired by Amazon). Prior, he had a VP role at Skype and was General Partner at Index Ventures. He shares with us his journey to the entreprenurial space and talks about the transition from working at an established company to starting your own business. He highlights the first steps to take as founders to really see the exciting opportunities and elaborates on the way LocalGlobe evaluates investments and helps improve their performance. 00:00 Introduction 1:31 Saul's journey into the entrepreneurship world 3:40 Disrupting the newspaper industry as a 22 year old 6:25 Seeing entrepreneurship in a new light at netscape 08:55 Making the transition from working at an established company to starting an own business 11:20 First startup experiences at a MIT spinn-off and getting to know the VC and M&A space 13:55 Founding LoveFilm 16:00 Being an Marketing Executive at Skype 19:10 Advice on finding THE entrepreneurial opportunity 23:55 First steps to take as a founder to really see the exciting opportunities 29:53 How to enhance the performance of the start-up as a VC 37:55 How LocalGlobe finds the startups to invest in 43:56 Quick Fire Round: who Saul admires the most | biggest risk currently | #1 recommendation for aspiring entrepreneurs 44:38 Closing
August 04, 2021
#24 Fabian Wesemann, Co-Founder & Group CFO of WeFox | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
This time our special guest is Fabian Wesemann, Co-Founder and CFO of insurance unicorn WeFox. Wefox recently secured $650 million in capital, giving the firm a $3 billion valuation. Fabian shares with us how they closed their funding round and his take on building relationship with investors. He also gives us advice on finding tech engineers in the start and and making decisions in a team. And if you wondering how to enter and build trust in a regulated industry, this episode is also for you! 0:00 Introduction 1:18 They way investment banking helped Fabian to grow into the startup ecosystem 2:30 How Fabian & the team found the idea for WeFox 4:42 The first version of WeFox 6:20 Evolution of the business model and why the first idea never stays 11:25 How to build trust as an InsureTech 13:15 Convincing a strategic partners as a young startup 15:00 The first rounds of raising venture capital 17:03 Finding tech engineers as business people when founding a startup 19:20 How to build deep domain knowledge, in this case insurance 22:10 Advice on building an amazing team and how to make decisions in a team 25:48 Closing a VC round at a 3 billion valuation 29:50 Communicating effectively with investors: unit economics, data room, pitch deck, etc... 33:58 Building trustful relationships with investors over time 37:05 Quick fire round: trading live with someone for a day, most useful & so far not well known software tool, what should entrepreneurs fix immediately, personal highlight of the day 40:15 Closing
July 26, 2021
#23 Jasper Masemann, Partner at HV Capital | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
This episode features Jasper Masemann, partner at HV Capital, one of the most iconic VC firms in Germany. HV Capital invested in more than 200 companies, including market leading companies such as Zalando, Delivery Hero and Flixbus. He shares insider tips for first-time founders, such as the dilemma of bootstrapping or initial hiring without an HR person, and reveals the main criteria that they take into consideration before making investment decisions. Our discussion also covers the recent developments in the European Venture Capital space. 0:00 Introduction 0:50 Jasper's road to join HV Capital 3:50 Why Jasper started a venture first before joining VC 7:15 Should a first-time founder start with a scalable project which can be VC backed? 10:45 Is bootstrapping a better way to get experience at first? 12:25 Why you have to make mistakes with your startup 13:35 What is the core ingredient of a successful venture? 17:25 Why Jasper enjoys to do early investments - but why other companies need some traction so that Jasper invests 19:10 Customers have to be willing to pay for your product 22:13 The importance of customer acquisition and pricing strategies 24:25 Discussion about churn 25:40 Biggest mistakes from which Jasper learned 28:15 How to hire a great team as a founder when you do not have someone for HR 30:05 Why you should use headhunters and how to find the right one 31:20 Current developments in the EU VC space - is there a bubble? 36:40 What is sustainable for a startup - should you always listen to the VC trend projections? 38:40 Quick fire round: who you admire the most | most useful software for entrepreneurs that is underappreciated | something broken that entrepreneurs should see differently | life-long dream 42:07 Closing
July 14, 2021
#22 David Nothacker, CEO & Co-Founder of sennder | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
David Nothacker is co-founder of Europe’s leading digital freight-forwarder platform, Sennder. The Berlin-based unicorn has recently raised an additional $80 million in funding at over $1 billion in valuation and will use this funding to expand into new regions. David started Sennder 1.0 as an MBA graduate but failed, as his co-founder left him five minutes after signing the investors term sheet. After overcoming this difficulty and setting a clear vision with new co-founders, he managed to turn the company into a unicorn with a team of 800 employees. If you want to find out more about how to excel in #winnertakesitall markets, whether it is a good idea to exit a built-up venture and how to build effective teams, then listen to the full episode! 0:00 Introduction 1:12 What is sennder? 2:44 All about the numbers: employees, revenue expectations, valuation of sennder 4:06 How David started sennder 7:40 What is harder to get as a platform business - demand or supply? 11:02 How to find co-founders and how working together works best 16:04 What David thinks about having luck as an entrepreneur and his exit strategy 20:19 Lessons learned on how to grow faster than the competition 23:20 How to onboard talent in a fast growing company (from 200 to 800 employees in one year!) 26:14 Organizing digital teams and sharing the culture 28:31 Quick-fire round: favorite activity | method to stay productive | personal hero 32:14 Outro
July 05, 2021
#21 Quim Sabrià, CEO & Co-Founder of EDpuzzle | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Quim Sabria is the Co-Founder and CEO of Edpuzzle, a crowdsourced video-lesson-platform in the K12 space, one of the top of cohort YCombinator startups in the EdTech industry. Edpluzzle combines simple video-editing tools with analytics so that a teacher can take a video and make it personal for their classrooms. Quim started as a math teacher without any tech or business know-how to run a company. He used to make his educational videos that he shared with other teachers who loved the idea and wanted to personalize them on their own. Started as a side project with childhood friends, the business made it to Silicon Valley and received a seed round which resulted in $800.000. In this episode Quim shares with us his insights on the main steps to create and accelerate high-growth companies. 0:00 Welcome back & introducing Quim Sabrià 1:14 How Quim started EDpuzzle 3:06 How to find co-finders 3:57 Pros and cons of founding a venture with friends 8:23 How to working effectively in bigger founding teams 10:05 Quim's top 3 learnings from his participation in the Y Combinator 15:48 Quim's number 1 metric 17:55 Many people say "don't sell to the government" - How Quim managed this challenge 20:27 Steps after finding the product-market fit 23:17 Growing a startup in a lean way 25:19 The process of going fully remote as a company at the US west coast 27:56 How to organize a remote sales team 30:48 Quick fire round: New middlename | What should entrepreneurs fix immediately | Technology that will transform the future 31:50 Outro - until next time :)
June 29, 2021
#20 Javier Darriba, Co-Founder & CEO of Bloobirds | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Javier Darriba is the Co-Founder & CEO of Bloobirds. Bloobirds is a sales empowerment platform that guides SDRs and closing reps to convert more prospects into customers. Prior to Bloobirds, Javier also co-founded and led UserZoom as the Co-CEO. Furthermore, he is the Founder & Chairman of The SaaS Institute and an Investment Comittee Member at Encomenda VC. Javier is an enthusiastic entrepreneur, not only in business but in everyday life. He's striving for change, innovation, and creating new things - he raised more than 40 millions funds from Business Angels and VCs and built international operations with offices in Spain, US, UK and Germany. The greatest pleasure for him is going to work every day where he's part of a team of inspiring professionals who are also nice people. He enjoys spending his free time with his family, books and on meditation. Javier Darriba, Co-Founder & CEO of Bloobirds | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #20   00:00 Javier's first steps into the entrepreneurship domain  04:00 Founding companies in economic crises  06:10 The problem of building service companies  08:46 Turning consulting into a software business  13:00 How did you build the software for UserZoom and Bloobirds?  15:10 Learnings about hiring a great team  17:25 Thoughts about building product  19:10 How do you think about building a tech team?  20:21 How long should a launch take?  22:15 Co-developing your product with the customer together  23:23 Sell it before you make it?   27:21 How did you get the first customers with UserZoom?  28:18 Building global companies from Barcelona  31:30 How do you determine which markets to go to?  35:27 How do get the first customers in new markets?  39:39 Top mistakes founders do when trying to sell their product  45:21 What keeps you going?
March 29, 2021
#19 Pau Rodriguez, CEO Methinks AI | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Pau Rodriguez is the CEO of Methinks AI, a software company to unlock life-saving treatments potential worldwide. He is an industrial engineer and MBA graduate by background. Prior to leading Methinks AI, Pau was also a professional rugby player, was a member of the U17, U18, U19 and U20 Spanish Rugby National Team, participated in the Rugby World Cup 2005 and Rugby European Cups 2004 and 2006. He also was the captain of the Senior Catalan Rugby National Team in 2010. Pau is passionate about how technology can change people’s lives for the better.   Pau Rodriguez, CEO Methinks AI | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #19 00:00 How did you decide to start a company?  02:54 Starting a Health Care company, what was your background?  04:19 You were a professional rugby player - did that help in your entrepreneurial career?  05:55 How important is it to have an entrepreneurial mindset?  07:10 How to be successful in Health Care without a background in biology  08:50 About Methinks AI  11:26 Collaborating with hospitals  15:08 What Pau loves most about his work  16:07 Regulations in Health Care and main things to watch out for  18:13 How did you reach out to experts in the field?  20:15 Trusting your gut feeling  22:08 Combining a great vision with a top team and doing your best work  23:15 Monetization in Health Care  26:32 How to build a business focusing on value delivery  29:52 What are the next steps for Methinks AI?  33:10 How do you learn?
March 22, 2021
#18 Richard Schwenke, Co-Founder & MD Priceloop AI | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Richard Schenke is Co-Founder & MD at Priceloop AI. Prior to Priceloop, Richard also co-founded Contorion, a fast-growing online shop for professional industrial and trade supply. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Richard was a Senior Consultant at McKinsey and with a project focus on non-food retail, sales & pricing strategy and automotive. Richard is an MIT and RWTH Aachen graduate. Richard Schwenke, Co-Founder & MD Priceloop AI | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #18 00:00 How did you get into the entrepreneurship domain?  01:52 Did you start your venture in parallel during your consulting job or went all in?  04:05 How did you find your first investors?  06:51 The idea behind Contorion  08:16 Getting both the supply and demand side right on a platform model  13:05 Evolving your venture one step at a time  14:59 What to do if you lose money per transaction  19:00 How merchants can bring value to suppliers  22:03 How to set your prices right  27:46 Advice for collecting quality data  32:20 Filtering data for machine learning  39:55 Exiting Contorion and starting Priceloop AI   41:49 Richard's top 3 learnings for aspiring founders  46:28 What do you enjoy the most about creating startups?
March 15, 2021
#17 David Casellas, Co-Founder & MD of Pridatect | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
David Casellas is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Pridatect and Co-Founder of Redpoints, both enterprising and successful SAAS LegalTech Companies. Heading up the Business side of the companies, David nurtured their growth and expanded their business from startups to successful Million€ companies and has been prominent and influential in internationalising business worldwide. David came from a two year spell at FC Barcelona where he was a driving force in the Digital Business team, working on a global scale. David started his first business at 19 years old whilst still studying Business Management and Marketing in the digital sector, specialising in digital business. David Casellas, Co-Founder & MD of Pridatect | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #17 00:00 How did you got started in the entrepreneurship space? 05:24 What was the trigger to go for your own entrepreneurial venture? 09:20 How did you start the venture without having clients? 12:49 Closing first customers 16:34 How to deal with rejection 19:20 How did you go about building your product? 23:29 Advice on finding a technical co-founder 26:38 Hiring a professional CEO 33:19 What's next for you?
March 08, 2021
#16 Robert Wetzker, Founder & CEO of Aklamio | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Robert Wetzker is the Founder & CEO of Aklamio. Founded in 2011, Aklamio has become Europe’s most successful referral marketing solution, trusted by companies such as Virgin Media, Vodafone, PayPal, Endesa, o2, and over 300 international brands. Aklamio believes that a company’s best assets are its customers, their networks, and the power of incentive marketing. Their mission is to empower brands to succeed in a customer-centric world by building the world’s #1 platform for customer incentivization. Their 80+ employees work in our HQ in Berlin and London, with teams in Madrid and Paris. Aklamio was ranked 2nd fastest growing technology startup in Germany (Financial Times, Europe’s 1000 Fastest Growing Companies, 2019) and continues to expand internationally. Robert has a background in engineering. Prior to founding Aklamio, he led the research team at TU Berlin’s Competence Center for Information Retrieval and Machine Learning.  Robert Wetzker, Founder & CEO of Aklamio | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #16 00:00 What's your personal journey into the entrepreneurship space? 01:32 From a researcher to starting a company - how did it come about? 03:49 How did you take the first steps to build your product? 06:30 How did you get in touch with your first customers? 08:49 Doing sales as a founder 11:12 When is the right time to start contacting your target customers? 12:35 What's the best way to reach out to people when you have nothing to show for yet? 14:52 How many customers do you need to determine a common base for a scalable product? 17:23 How can technically strong people be a sales-driven CEO and find a specialized sales person? 20:01 What are your core lessons learned in the process from doing the first sales to building Aklamio as an impactful company? 24:08 How to approach internationalization 26:14 Should you start with one country manager first or build a small team early on? 30:46 For people looking into referral marketing, what are the core lessons learned that you can share? 33:48 Besides the size of incentives, what are other components of a successful referral campaign? 36:39 What's next for Aklamio? 38:54 What is your core advice for people who want to make it real?
March 01, 2021
#15 Michael Brehm, Founder & MD of i2x | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Michael Brehm is the Founder & Managing Director of i2x who helps sales and customer support agents to excel at their job by providing the most intuitive, productive and personally tailored learning to improve each individual’s skill-set. Prior to i2x, Michael has run and founded multiple internationally successful companies in the last 15 years. His last company, Rebate Networks, was an e-commerce and daily deals network. He also was Executive Director & Investor at VZnet Netzwerke Ltd. (schülerVZ, studiVZ, meinVZ). Apart from building companies himself, Michael also enjoys supporting founders as a Partner of Redstone, a Berlin-based VC firm managing multiple corporate venture funds through their unique VC-as-a-Service approach.  More about i2x: More about Redstone: Michael Brehm, Founder & MD of i2x | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #15 00:00 What's your personal story into the entrepreneurship domain? 03:46 The studiVZ success story: Why did you decide to take on the challenge to battle Facebook? 07:59 How did you meet your co-founders? 10:01 What was the game plan of studiVZ having huge competition like Facebook? 13:36 Do you have to put in an incredible amount of hours to get your venture going in the beginning? 18:15 Painting schools pink as a marketing hack for schülerVZ 19:29 Getting users for a consumer app 23:01 Core mistakes you see in other ventures 28:33 After having launched Rebate Networks and a VC, how did you determine the opportunity for i2x? 31:59 Development of i2x 34:25 How can you finance a technology venture before revenues? 38:39 Convincing potential customers to sign a letter of intent 41:13 Passion, resilience and timing 43:44 How can you judge if it's the right timing for your product? 46:17 What do you personally enjoy the most in entrepreneurship?
February 22, 2021
#14 Colin McElwee, Co-Founder of Worldreader | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Colin McElwee is the Co-Founder of Worldreader. He has a degree in Economics from the University of Manchester and a MBA from ESADE Business School, where he also was the Executive Director of Marketing and Communication from 2001-2010. From 2012-2014, Colin was an invited member of the Global Agenda Council for Africa of the World Economic Forum. Colin has extensive for-profit and not-for-profit experience around the globe. He was an economist for several Brussels-based lobbies to the European Commission. Colin was also the Global Marketing Controller for Scottish & Newcastle where he oversaw Formula 1 sponsorship and product distribution to over 150 countries. He co-founded Worldreader in 2010 with the vision of creating 100's of millions of readers in sub Saharan Africa.  More about Worldreader: Follow Worldreader on Twitter: Contact Colin: Colin McElwee, Co-Founder of Worldreader | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #14 00:00 What is Worldreader about? 01:28 Is Worldreader an NGO? 02:44 How did Worldreader get started and what did you do before it? 06:58 Going from a vision to making it real 09:27 How did you get started with Worldreader? 14:52 Advice on how to form first relationships when you're starting out 16:47 Networking in times of Covid 19:33 Approaching developing markets 22:28 How did you get Worldreader to where it is now? 25:17 Taking Worldreader to the next level 28:23 From the first few hundred readers to 300,000 users 32:55 Making high-quality content accessible in Africa 37:21 About content contribution 40:38 Do you have a guiding concept to make things real? 44:29 What is for you personally most rewarding about entrepreneurship?
February 15, 2021
#13 Patrick Spain, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Spain is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded four Web-enabled companies that transformed their industries. Presently he is the CEO of First Stop Health an online and on-call telemedicine and advocacy service used by employers and their employees. Co-founder and long-time chairman and CEO of Hoover’s, Inc., Spain led the company from a small book publisher in 1992 to a profitable, publicly traded online business information services company with $31 million in revenue in 2001 with a sale to D&B in 2003 for $119 million. Spain was also the founder, chairman and CEO of HighBeam Research, which he started in 2002 and sold to Cengage Learning in December, 2008. He also co-founded and is CEO of Newser, a news curation and summarization service with an audience of seven million readers each month. Spain serves as a board member of Owler a Silicon Valley-based company information service that is using crowd sourcing to revolutionize data collection, quality and delivery. He is also on the Board of a Chicago-based Occasion, an event scheduling platform for smaller merchants. Spain also serves on the Board of Community Health, the largest free clinic in the U.S. Chicago. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of Opportunity International, the largest and best capitalized micro-lender in the world. Spain serves on the advisory boards of several technology startup companies. Past board positions include service at Televerde a rapidly growing, socially responsible marketing services company, SmartAnalyst, a research company that serves the pharma industry and GuideStar, the largest and most trusted database of information on the not-for-profit sector. Spain has worked in the technology industry since 1979 and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Boston University. He splits his time between the Chicago and Austin, TX areas.  Patrick Spain, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #13 00:00 When did you decide to co-found a company? 02:04 How did you approach starting your first business? 02:58 Leaving behind a nice salary for your startup 05:14 Democratizing information as a business model 07:40 How could you get into volume distribution? 09:34 How important was market timing for 10:38 What would have been your plan B if didn't work out? 12:25 Is there a common scheme you're looking for when founding a company? 15:19 Intuition vs validation before making large purchases for your business 16:22 After selling two companies, how did you decide on your new venture? 19:10 Core lessons learned in a declining market 21:02 Would you advise founders to only go into high-growth markets? 24:04 How do get started when trying to fix fundamental market issues 26:58 How important is it to have at least one co-founder with deep domain knowledge? 28:28 Starting First Stop Health 30:18 Putting components together instead of building everything from scratch 32:18 Building a sales team as a company who made it to the INC 500 list twice in a row 36:10 Is there a guiding concept to decide things as an entrepreneur? 38:51 Being a very active business angel, what are the common mistakes you're seeing? 42:40 First Stop Health is your fourth venture - what keeps you going?
February 08, 2021
#12 Katrina Walker, CEO & Founder of CodeOp | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Katrina Walker is the CEO & founder of CodeOp, Barcelona's first coding school for women and the TGNC community. Prior to that, Katrina worked on the central data science team at eDreams. Being originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she immigrated to Barcelona in 2016 to explore the rising tech scene from a data science perspective. Katrina comes from a multidisciplinary background starting first as a social worker for the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States. She has carried out social research with institutes such as the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Ber'Sheva Israel as well as presented on "Pedagogy and Postmodernism" at the University of Florence, Italy. Katrina Walker, CEO & Founder of CodeOp | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #12 00:00 How did you get started in the entrepreneurship space? 03:08 Triggering moment to start the venture 04:15 Lead time from validation to launch 04:55 How did you approach your validation? 05:46 About CodeOp's start and vision 07:47 When did you decide to incorporate? 08:32 Were you considering bootstrapping the company? 10:44 Tips to find the perfect investors 12:15 About ‘Women in Tech’ support 12:45 Solo-founding vs co-founding a company 14:00 How did you structure the core task areas of your company? 15:31 How do you get your board members committed and get the speed on the ground internally? 17:33 Mistakes while building CodeOp 20:13 How did you approach to take CodeOp globally? 23:01 CodeOp approaching Latin America as an international market 23:42 How does CodeOp's business model actually work? 26:10 Personally, how do you live entrepreneurship? 27:39 Learning how to use external advice 29:12 About the skill of decision-taking 30:08 What do you enjoy personally most in entrepreneurship? 33:31 What's next for CodeOp?
February 01, 2021
#11 Aimie-Sarah Carstensen, CEO of Realtainment | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Aimie is the co-founder and CEO of Realtainment, which covers the brands ArtNight, ShakeNight, PlantNight and BakeNight. Her team brings more than 30,000 people together every month. The platform enables 1,000 artists, bakers, and confectioners, florists & bartenders to make a living doing what they love. Realtainment’s vision is to combat digital loneliness with a new brand of “edutainment”, bringing communities together offline again. Aimie-Sarah Carstensen, CEO of Realtainment | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #11 00:00 How did you get started? 01:30 Did you want to start your venture with a co-founder? 02:09 How did you know that your co-founder is the right one? 04:45 Bootstrapping the venture 05:45 From a corporate job to the triggering moment to start your own venture 07:08 What was your biggest concern that your venture would not work? 08:55 First steps to get ArtNight going 12:20 How did you pick the artists to start out with? 13:50 Approach to start a completely new concept 16:11 What “edutainment” means for Aimie 18:25 Best channels to get customer feedback 19:18 Expanding ArtNight and tips for scaling 22:46 Event ventures during Covid 26:45 Next steps for Realtainment 28:31 Lessons learned while managing the team completely online 30:45 Tools to increase efficiency & productivity 32:26 What are the things you're most excited about? 34:08 What are you enjoying the most being a founder?
January 25, 2021
#10 Daniel Gutenberg, Investor | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Daniel Gutenberg is one of the most active Swiss early-stage angel investors and has invested in a variety of high growth startups. Among his portfolio are companies like Facebook, Airbnb, Tesla, Mobileye, Skrill, Netscape and SumUp, where he is also Chairman of the Board.  Daniel Gutenberg, Investor | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #10 00:00 How did you get into the entrepreneurship world? 02:20 Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur? 03:26 How did you decide what to work on? 05:54 How did you persuade people early on that you can be a distributor for them in Switzerland? 07:14 How did you pick which companies to focus on with your distribution venture? 08:44 What was your pitch as a distributor? 09:36 Lessons learned across products 12:01 Netscape as an entry door for the internet 14:33 Daniel on quitting his job 16:40 How did you start your VC career? 18:22 Advice for people looking at different opportunities 19:43 How much better should a product be than existing solutions? 22:10 Do you think about odds as an investor? 22:49 How important is timing? 24:25 What traction should companies prove in the first 10 years? 25:37 Daniel’s take on development check-ins 26:17 What are you looking for in an entrepreneur? 27:27 Would you only invest in ventures that are world-changing? 28:56 Advice for people who want to create a world-changing company 31:38 Personally, what do you enjoy the most?
January 18, 2021
#9 Lukasz Gadowski, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Serial entrepreneur Lukasz Gadowski is one of the core people in Germany’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Lukasz founded his first successful company Spreadshirt in 2002. Today, Spreadshirt has over 1,000 employees and is preparing to go public. Lukasz is also the co-founder of Delivery Hero and founded or co-founded several other companies such as Mister Spex, Vertical Media (Publisher of Gruenderszene) and Circ. Being the founder & CEO of Team Europe and the co-founder of Point Nine Capital, Lukasz is also an active investor and business angel. Among his portfolio are Skyryse, Skydio, Volocopter and a few other undisclosed aviation companies, Miles, Bird, Enpal and two other undisclosed energy companies, and Aroundhome (formerly Käuferportal). Lukasz Gadowski, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #9 00:00 How Lukasz got started in the entrepreneurship domain 04:44 About cmplementary characters in founding teams 05:35 How Lukasz found his co-founder 08:20 About the idea for Spreadshirt 11:35 The big problems Lukasz is focusing on 17:19 The idea behind Lukasz’ portfolio company Volocopter with Team Europe 20:49 How much time to market do you expect for aviation companies like Volocopter? 27:03 Which other areas apart from aviation are you interested in? 28:38 Do you have a gameplan to attack the biggest problems? 32:20 Core mistakes that founders are doing 35:38 Are there any indications for when to scale a company? 38:25 How can you find good investors? 39:12 Lukasz’ advice for the beginner stage
January 11, 2021
#8 Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Jason Fried is co-founder of Basecamp (formerly 37signals), a Chicago-based software firm which among others includes his current venture Jason is the co-author of the international bestseller Rework, which was published in 2010. He also writes Inc.'s Getting Real column. Jason lives and builds his businesses under the motto 'It's simple until you make it complicated’.  Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #8 00:00 Jason's founding story and his personal way into entrepreneurship 02:52 How Jason met his co-founders 05:16 Creating a company, dealing with taxes & accounting 06:50 Vesting for founders 09:03 Who should you found with? 11:10 "Don't create companies, build projects first"? 13:26 Advice on founding team size 16:05 What do you think about having someone on the team doing marketing/sales? 18:06 Should you bring in external sales people? 21:18 Jason scratched his own itch - how important is that for building a business? 23:46 Advice on finding a technical co-founder 29:00 How to put your first product out 30:16 How did you determine the first version for 32:52 How long did it take you to put it out? 35:40 How do you decide what to work on? 37:30 Main concepts Jason sees a lot of founders struggle with 40:13 Jason's take on focus and 40h work weeks 43:41 Do you apply the 80/20 rule a lot? 46:00 What keeps you excited? 46:44 Any advice for tricky situations? You can find the free book 'Shape Up' that Jason mentioned when talking about productivity and roadmaps on
January 03, 2021
#7 Tim Schmitz, COO of Jodel | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Tim Schmitz is the COO of Jodel. Jodel is a very popular location-based communication app which enables its users to discover, follow and participate in the most relevant conversations with people nearby. Prior to creating Jodel, Tim studied at ESADE Business School. Tim Schmitz, COO of Jodel | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #7 00:00 Tim's personal story in the entrepreneurship domain 3:55 What gave you the confidence that Jodel could work? 6:00 MVPs in the consumer space and their KPIs 11:25 How your KPIs should develop 14:20 User acquisition for consumer apps 16:50 With how many people were you programming? 18:15 How long did it take you to launch the first version? 19:35 How did you launch it? 22:00 Were you strategic about which type of study, gender, university of Jodel's users? 24:17 Where does Jodel currently stand? 31:06 Validating Jodel with its users 32:30 What's next for Jodel? 34:06 Most exciting topic for Tim right now 36:30 Tim's advice for people thinking about making it real 39:15 Tim's advice for an entrepreneur's darker times Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →
December 28, 2020
#6 Ariel Poler, Reveri Health | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann
Ariel Poler is the founder of Reveri Health, a company in the human augmentation space that helps millions of people relieve stress, anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia through Alexa-based programs. Prior to Reveri Health, Ariel has founded and ran three Internet companies: I/PRO, Topica & TextMarks. He was an active board member at a number of technology companies, including Strava, Kana Software, LinkExchange, StumbleUpon, Silicon Investor & Odeo. He currently serves on the boards of NeoSensory, Freedom Financial, HUMM & Returnly.Ariel is also an active angel investor. His investments include AdMob, Thumbtack, Flixster, Slideshare, Cornershop, Optimizely, Brightroll, Clearbit, Pantheon, Instructables, VivaReal, Mashery, Viki, AngelList, Homelight, Bios Health, and NexTag. Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode → Ariel Poler, Reveri Health | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #6 00:00 What brought Ariel to the internet space in his early days as an entrepreneur 06:37 Is it a good way to raise capital early on to start your company? 08:06 How much equity should you give away as a founder when the company is still young? 11:02 How to build a great team 13:06 How do you decide which opportunity to go for? 15:53 Working on several projects in parallel vs sequential working 18:11 What Ariel enjoys about being early in new business spaces 21:18 What project Ariel is focusing on right now 24:53 Can you apply the 80/20 rule to determine what founders should focus on in the early days? 27:18 What Ariel looks on to determine product-market fit 30:14 How important is it to generate early revenue? 33:00 The #1 mistake founders commit 35:00 Best practices for hiring slow 37:40 Besides Human Augmentation, what else should founders have on their radar? 39:36 Final advice for entrepreneurs who want to make it real
December 21, 2020
#5 Florian Heinemann | Project A Ventures
Florian Heinemann is a Founding Partner at Project A Ventures, where he is responsible for the areas of marketing, CRM, and business intelligence. Before co-founding Project A, he was Managing Director at Rocket Internet with the same areas of responsibility (2007-2012). During his time at Rocket, he was mainly involved at Zalando, Global Fashion Group, and Spark Networks (aka eDarling/Affinitas).Prior to Rocket, Florian was Co-Founder and Managing Director of JustBooks/AbeBooks being in charge of marketing and product (1999-2002, exit to Amazon in 2008). Then, he was co-heading the online marketing department of Jamba! and the online dating portal iLove (2003-2005, exit to Verisign). In 2006, he was Co-Founder of the online marketplace (exit to Broadoak).Moreover, he has been an investor/business angel in more than 80 startups including Trivago (seed investor), Zalando (founding investor), Audibene (seed investor), Home24 (founding investor), CityDeal/Groupon (founding investor), (seed investor), ClassPass (early stage investor), Mimi Hearing (early stage investor), Bitbond (seed investor), Lillydoo (early stage investor), and the Code University (seed stage investor).Apart from his Project A-related board activities he sits on the board of Koerber AG and About You and the digital advisory boards of Henkel and Oetker. Florian Heinemann, Project A Ventures | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #5 00:00 How Florian got into the Entrepreneurship domain 02:45 Florian’s role as a founder in the early internet days 05:05 Knowing your strengths and growing into an expert in your field 12:26 Should you join a startup with funding or start your own venture for best possible learnings? 18:46 Florian’s entrepreneurial path and his start at Rocket Internet 23:13 Rocket Internet’s first ventures and how they decided which new companies to launch 30:35 What Rocket Internet underestimated 34:50 Advantages of B2B business models over consumer businesses 37:18 The role of sales is mostly underestimated in B2B 38:36 Why Florian left Rocket Internet and started Project A Ventures 43:05 Was Florian scared of starting his own company? 46:25 Florian’s advice for founders who want to make it real Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →
December 17, 2020
#4 Michael Wolfe | Serial Entrepreneur
Michael Wolfe is a serial entrepreneur and technology executive. Michael co-founded Gladly and Vontu, worked as the CEO of Pipewise and is also a Portfolio Advisor at Point Nine Capital. Throughout his career, Michael has raised several hundred million of capital through many venture rounds, IPO, and secondaries and has led his companies to two successful acquisitions and one IPO. He is especially experienced in SaaS and on-premise products and led over 20 major development cycles based on a variety of technologies. Michael Wolfe, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #4 00:00 How Michael started his entrepreneurial journey 03:15 Transition from the business world into tech 05:59 The best timing to join a young company 07:43 How Michael launched his career path early on 11:04 How to evaluate the quality of potential co-founders 13:29 The trigger for Michael to create his own company 15:49 Is there a standard process to build a company? 18:38 How do you find your first customers? 21:28 Building a better product than your competition 23:56 Which product features you should focus on 26:25 Should you charge for your pilot product? 28:30 Pricing strategy for startups 30:57 Top 3 mistakes Michael sees founders make 34:33 Michael’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs 37:05 Practical advice to start a company Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →
December 14, 2020
#3 Tim Schumacher | Serial Entrepreneur
Tim Schumacher is an entrepreneur since he got his first computer 30 years ago and started coding as a kid. He has founded and lead various companies, including, (makers of Adblock Plus) and, most recently, the He also enjoys investing into start ups and mentoring the next generation of founders, especially climate tech founders, where together with he is building Tim Schumacher, Serial Entrepreneur | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #3 00:00 How Tim got into the Entrepreneurship world 01:49 How Tim was selling his first product at 17 years old 02:55 The start of in 2000 05:08 How much equity Tim would advise founders to give an early investor 06:21 Going from an idea to a business by solving your own need 08:38 Should you create a business plan for your venture? 09:22 How to start a marketplace business 13:58 How to drive traffic to your business website 16:46 Tim about finding his complementary co-founders 19:39 Vesting for founding teams 21:46 The main mistakes Tim sees founders make as an investor 25:30 What founders should look out for 27:27 What Tim especially focuses on when investing in a startup 30:48 The most exciting topic for Tim in Entrepreneurship 33:22 The first step to get started for an aspiring founder ( Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →
December 10, 2020
#2 Craig Newmark | Founder Craigslist
Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist. In the conversation with Jan Brinckmann on the Making It Real Podcast, Craig talks about the early days of Craigslist, philanthropy, why he decided to not monetize Craigslist to its fullest potential and shares his favorite Twitter jokes.    Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #2   00:00 How Craigslist got started as a simple mailing list 03:00 Why enough is enough 03:54 How Craig Newmark started running Craigslist as a hobby 07:35 Craig’s decision to create a company and the role of decision-making as an entrepreneur 09:10 How Craig found his team for Craigslist 09:45 How to know when to get out of the way as a founder 12:44 Craig’s surprising last role at Craigslist 15:17 Why Craig is obsessed with customer service 17:20 Craig’s areas of interest for philanthropic ventures 22:05 How Craig selects philanthropic entrepreneurs to support 24:44 How to get from having an idea to making it real 27:00 The importance of talking to other founders 28:30 Craig’s branding and PR advice for founders 31:02 How Craig would make it real if he started a new venture Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →  
December 07, 2020
#1 Steve Blank | Lean Startup
Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur and recognized for developing the customer development model that launched the Lean Startup methodology. Steve is the author of four significant books in the entrepreneurship world, namely "The Four Steps to the Epiphany", "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost", "The Startup Owner's Manual" and "Holding a Cat by the Tail". He also teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford University, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Columbia University.   Steve Blank, Lean Startup | Making It Real Podcast with Jan Brinckmann | Episode #1   00:00 How Steve got started in entrepreneurship 07:37 Steve’s evolution as an entrepreneur  13:24 How the Lean Startup methodology was born 18:36 Should I quit my job to start my own venture? 21:10 Is a founder an artist? 22:29 McKinsey vs starting your own company 24:58 How to tell if your business idea is going to work out 33:52 Main application mistakes of Lean Startup in entrepreneurship 38:13 How to get in touch with your customers (both B2C and B2B) 41:46 Customer discovery vs customer validation 43:20 How to close sales 47:46 Steve’s entrepreneurial focus right now 54:06 The core ingredient for corporate innovation 56:52 Entrepreneurial incentives inside corporations 1:00:53 Steve’s personal goal for the next years Download the one-pager for curated top learnings of this episode →
December 03, 2020