On Digital Marketing

I found this presentation from 2011 in my digital drawers and thought I’d share it with you as it seems to be still relevant – even after these years.

It was originally commissioned by a customer, an agency, who wanted a primer on data driven digital marketing. I have redacted the customer-specific details but without removing much of the content, if at all.

Perhaps you’ll find something useful in it. Either for your agency, your customers or your corporation. Let me know what you think.

entrepreneurship, Lean Startup, startup

On Rocket Internet vs Startups


There is a discussion going on in Germany at the moment on startups vs the Samwer brothers’ incubator or company builder “Rocket Internet”.

And I have only two things to add to that.

  1. I have the utmost respect for the efficiency of the Samwers. Copycat or not is not a point in business. They might be vulgar to your tastes, but there is no denying that they are exceptionally good at doing business. Period.
  2. What the Samwers’ Rocket Internet is doing is not founding startups – and I think school, particularly traditional business ed, and an uninformed media is to blame for perpetuating the wrong association of concepts.

To wit:

Rocket Internet is creating new businesses based on already working, proven business models, so let’s stop associating the word “startup” with what they are doing, right now.

Startups are temporary organizations in search of a repeatable and scalable business model.

What the Samwers are doing, is executing known business models, not searching for, nor validating new ones.

Ergo, Rocket Internet is not founding startups.

In fact I heard it from Oliver Samwer himself at IdeaLab at WHU in 2013 (below) that he’s only interested in owning (e)commerce on the Internet.

That’s a well-know business model with a foreseeable, albeit huge total available market.

That means they are still playing the old Industrial Age game of growth of market cap through command, conquer and defend. Which is OK if you know which game you are playing.

The new post-industrial age game of growth however consist of continuously creating new markets (and of course owning them).

So the Samwers and Rocket Internet are not creating startups, not searching for new business models nor creating new markets.

This, however, doesn’t detract my respect for their successes in the least.

What I wish is, that we can achieve a more informed public that knows and understands what a startup is and how it differs from a new company.

I think that is extremely important, because they are indeed not the same thing. The processes to run one successfully is in most parts diametrically opposite of the other.

If we continue to confuse the one with the other, we’re deliberately creating less competent founders that will keep on doing the same basic mistakes, fail because of the same old misconceptions.

Because today, we actually know better than to conflate the two.

And if you want to get up to speed on what we know now, I suggest starting today with the excellent – FREE – introduction course by the father of the Lean Startup, Steve Blank taught at over 100 elite universities (like Stanford, Berkeley, Colombia, University of Cologne, et al) and a growing list of +30 accelerators and incubators worldwide: The Lean Launchpad

Business Ideas, entrepreneurship, startup

Introducing +A RECRUITMENT


I’m currently at the arrrrrsome 4th European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and upon arriving there yesterday and within three hours, I had received three job requests from devs and entrepreneurs and one company told me they were searching for a talent to fill a new developer outreach position.

So that got me thinking, because I keep getting these kinds of requests all the time. Not a week goes by where I don’t get at least three or four asks from either people or companies.

On the one hand, I’ve been providing friends and friends of friends and their friends in the tech industry with both job opportunities and new talent for over 18 years now. You know how it is; People love to work with people they already know and trust.

On the other, I teach entrepreneurs if you think there’s a demand – build something to test if your guesses are true! Get it out there with a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and let the market tell you if your guesses are true.

So I thought some more about how to hold myself accountable to my own teachings and at the same time make this activity easier for everybody and more accessible for all.

Then there are the personal HR needs I have for +ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES to provide top freelance talent like developers, designers and Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) for our corporate F500 innovation programs.

So I just went ahead and built it! Introducing +A RECRUITMENT


  • Labour: ca. 3 man hours, free, by me
  • Static Themeforest Template: 16 USD
  • Database: Google Drive, free
  • Domain: 15 USD / year
  • Hosting: 5 USD / month

Now, less than 24 hours after launch and no marketing, I’m happy to report that I already have two job opportunities and seven talents in the database. I think that’s pretty cool.

So now you know there’s an answer to your question if you’re looking for new exciting job opportunities or if you’re looking for new talents for your company in the tech industry: +A RECRUITMENT

Lessons Learned

  • If you think there’s a business demand – test for facts, don’t live on belief
  • If it takes less than a day – just build it
  • Buy / outsource what you can – consider price vs quality vs time to market
  • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid, don’t overthink it
  • Keep optionality – don’t quit your day job yet
  • MVPs talk, bullshit walks
entrepreneurship, Failure, Lessons Learned

Where are we now? A message from the present.

This post is from the present me in response to the recent automated message in a bottle from last year. Thank you for the heartwarming responses, and remember – that message was FROM LAST YEAR. This one is from the present.

Hello world,

I’m doing surprisingly well.

Today is July 2014, and I find myself at the end of my regular free open office hours at Startplatz in Cologne, reflecting on what happened in the year since I wrote a message to my future self from Silicon Valley.

Today, I should be happy.  And grateful.

Yes. One year later and still here.

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entrepreneurship, Failure, Lessons Learned, Little Known Fact

Where do we go from here? A message in a bottle.

This is a message to my future self. I’ve set this post to automatically publish one year from now in the hope it will find us both in better times.

Hello world,

I’m not doing so well.

Today is June 19th 2013 and I’m sitting poolside in a fancy neighborhood in Atherton, Silicon Valley. It’s 7am and I’m about to pedal down to Stanford University for another day of lectures with Steve Blank and Jerry Engel.

I should be happy. And in some ways I am.


This is where I’m staying: The Blackbox Mansion in Atherton, Silicon Valley. I’m writing this from the table center left.

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