I am a humble individual with a very unusual life, enabling me to understand my fellow coworkers and friends much better as I had to fight since I was 11 years old. Nothing was normal, yet my life learned me a lot. There have been many setbacks, but giving up was/is never an option. We are born to make good in our lifetime and that is exactly what I am doing. I do not regret things and I do not look back, never be afraid of the challenges in the future, always looking forward and always be positive.
My early life
Even though my life was far from normal, I always had a very technical and abstract view of things. My hobby always was building model railroad train layouts. I did so all my childhood. This enabled me to understand basic electronic components at the age of 7. By 13, I built a huge model railroad layout in the loft of my grandmas house whereas I built the massive wooden table as well as all the structures and landscape by myself. Needles to say, all electric components, including about 20 remote controlled switches, I set up myself, using about 200 feet of cables.
While being a teenager, I developed more and more a passion for building circuit boards to create my own stereo system. Setting up blue prints on how the circuit board should work and what transistors and diodes, what amplifier and capacitors are needed, to get the perfect sound. The stereo system included not only the self made amplifier, but also a tape deck, a transistor radio and a vinyl record player. The final piece were the hand made speakers using MDF wood to make sure they can withstand the base;-)
This is when I got hooked into computers.
My first computer was a Commodore C64. I learned BASIC on that thing to modify the use of memory (That was needed at that time) as well as fix games that crashed after a while. With my friend, we even built our own games, however, that was to time consuming. Once moving on to a Commodore Amiga 2000 I was in heaven. I had 2 (In words, two) floppy 3.5 inch drives and a 20MB HDD, which was very rare at that time. I think I could have bought a car for the price of that computer;-)
Due to my interest in electronics and the fact that communication was on the verge of changing, I made a Bachelor (At that time it was not called Bachelor in Germany, but it is a similar degree) in Communication at the Deutsche Telekom. After my graduation, I worked for many years at a small communications company, called Gross Communication. The owner of that company was the best boss you could ever imagine. He taught me a lot about management and getting the best out of people. After a year at Gross Communication, I managed my own projects, which could be as big as switching a whole city district with over 20.000 phone numbers to a new phone network.
Once things became digital (ISDN), we started selling digital phone systems as well as worked on GSM mobile phone networks.
After moving to Augsburg, Germany, I started my Master while working at Siemens Nixdorf, a computer hardware company. Again, at that time this was still not called Master in Germany, but has a similar degree.
While at Siemens, the Internet started to become more available to people, but was still very cumbersome. You had to dial in via modem and paid a fortune to be connected for a while. I was one of the first Internet developers at Siemens Nixdorf, setting up a “Schnaeppchenmarkt”, a site that enabled Siemens Nixdorf to sell computers that have been in stock for month and years to all Siemens employees through the Siemens Intranet world wide. In just one year, we pretty much sold all old stock of a value more than $12 Million!
This was the reason I got hired by Siemens before I even finished my degree. This also enabled me to move to Siemens Business Services, SBS to be part of a global Siemens project, the Siemens Mall. The Siemens Mall was an online Shop that had all Siemens products online, making it one of the biggest shopping sites world wide at that time. After that I moved on to the Siemens Procurement team, building a Siemens wide procurement system were companies could bid on projects or products, Siemens needed.
While working at Siemens, my biggest project was the more than $300 Million E-ICN project located mainly in Orlando, Florida. The idea behind this project was that any company in the world, owning a Siemens communication system, is able to manage that system, including extending it via an online interface. The team had more than 100 developers. This is were my knowledge of telecommunication, networks, hardware and software came in handy. In addition, I was bale to communicate with business as well as with developers to make sure all are on the same page. The project, which was at times located across the world, was going on for 2 years and was backed by the global Siemens – IBM alliance.
After this huge project, I was controller for Siemens ICN at the Headquarters in Munich, Germany. I controlled over 100 IT projects and reported directly to the CIO. However, due to my nature of being entrepreneurial, I had to quit and move back to Orlando, Florida to start my own business. Nevertheless, due to my good contacts with IBM, I had projects at the Disney Corporation as well as the Chase Bank. At Disney I was responsible for the online ticketing system for Walt Disney World, which is the largest Theme Park in the world, employing over 50.000 cast members. At that time, already thousands of Theme Park tickets were sold daily through their web site. In addition, I was managing the Disney Fast Pass system and integrating it into new attractions. Due to the connection between Disney and Chase, I than managed the Disney – Chase online Credit Card program, were people can sign up online and use their new credit card seconds after approval online to shop at disney.com and disneycruisline.com.
Setting up a StartUp
As mentioned, my main goal was to start my own business as an entrepreneur. I combined my hobby and my dream job into one, by selling model railroad trains from USA to Europe. I set up an online store, using the OS Commerce framework in PHP. I crawled competitors websites to build my catalog and converted American DC systems to German Maerklin AC systems. Due to the fact that the idea was so great, I sold over 30.000 items in 3 years. This let me to move on and build a system that is able to sell anything from USA to Europe. I exported 22.000 categories from eBay and Amazon and matched it with Customs codes to calculate not only shipping cost, but duties and taxes before the customer bought the item in USA. After developing a Global Checkout that could easily be integrated into other websites, Borderlinx, a company from London, England bought my business. During my time at Borderlinx, I was responsible for integrating the Checkout into other partners websites, such as Amazon, Overstock.com and others.
Moving back to Europe
With Borderlinx I first worked out of Sunnyvale, California, but moved than to London, England for about 6 month. Borderlinx than moved to Brussels, Belgium where I stayed for about a year before I quit and returned to Germany.
Work in Germany
Back in Germany, I helped an old friend of mine improving his Notebook Sparepart business by improving the online store as well as improving SEO and SEM. In addition, I developed many new processes to make internal tasks much easier and faster. A search engine that enabled employees to cross reference different parts by manufacturers to see what part would fit into what notebook. Also customer and product search was improved significantly as well as a special feature was developed that enabled customers to tell us an ID of the site they are on so support can jump to that page and help the customer with buying the product. After 5 years we were able to improve business by more than 150%.
In parallel, I helped another customer to set up a new online shop as well as a system to calculate different tarps and shape of tarps for trucks and home use. That system is now responsible for 40% of the revenue for that company. Overall, business was improved by as much as 500% over 4 years.
Starting cheerapp, back in USA
In 2014, I started another StartUp called cheerapp. An App that enables people around you to get connected to exchange services, ask for help or just for selling stuff. The team I set up was Global, whereas the development team was in Macedonia, the operations team was in Germany and USA and the tech lead in London. After being at TechCrunch in San Francisco, we decided to move the business over to USA, more specifically, Las Vegas, Nevada. The reason for Las Vegas was the fact that rent and employees are much cheaper than in Silicon Valley and it is still in the same time zone. Flying there is about an hour, so needed meetings can be arranged on a daily basis.
However, all the hard work and money we put into this great and noble idea didn’t help to get cheerapp of the ground. At the beginning of 2017 we had to stop delivering Apps to Apple App Store and Google Play Store as the funds dried out and move to Google’s PWA solution to save development cost. cheerapp, at this point, is only available by invitation to a selected city.
Learning from mistakes
After the fact that cheerapp didn’t work as expected, I had to go back to the drawing board. I used my knowledge I earned during all this time to help other StartUps to not make the same mistakes again and went into Online Marketing, using my previous knowledge I built up wit SEO and SEM at IPC Computer in Germany.
One thing that is most important is the fact that you should never underestimate Marketing. If nobody knows your product, nobody will buy it. You have to invest in marketing and that amount you spent for marketing is better not to small. I can provide you with all the important knowledge to get your product or business out there and let people know you are there. May that be Facebook or Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, or just Google or Amazon. There are so many ways on getting your name out there that it is impossible to take the time by yourself to do all that.
What I'm great at
I am a very humble and honest person. Nothing is much more important than honesty in a relationship, being it private or business.
Respect is also a very important ingredient when it comes to any relationship. It is important to honor each other and respect their values.
As an employee or contractor, I am always 100% loyal. I would never do anything that brings anybody in harm or be bad for the business.
Being fair is a big part of my life. I do not like bullying people or treat somebody differently. Everybody should have the same chances.
As mentioned above, I am a humble person. I much rather stay aside and have somebody else take credit as I think that good things will always come back to you.
Even though I am a humble person, I am also very strong. My live has teached me to never give up, so I wont!