René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for July, 2006

Holtzbrinck eLab launches Website

As I had mentioned at other occations, I have been involved in the exciting set-up phase with Holtzbrinck eLab in the last few months. The work deliberately kept a low-profile as tangible results and not hot air should speak for themselves. A very down-to-earth approach which combines an open culture of creativity with rigorous business acumen is very much instilled in the organization. eLab was founded by Stephan Roppel, Head of Strategy of the Verlagsgruppe von Holtbrinck, and his “wings” are Michael Munz and Arnd Benninghoff.

Yesterday, the company lifted its veil, and went with its website live. Check out what this very promising incubator has to offer.

Flying with Arnd and Michael

Blessed by the phantastic weather, today it was Arnd Bennninghoff and Michael Munz from Holtzbrinck eLab to have the confidence in me to be their pilot for phantastic ride over Bavaria. Our group photo in from of D-EIYN, the callsign of our Cessna 172.

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_05

After taking off from Augsburg, we headed in south-western direction to land at the pittoresque airport of Leutkirch-Unterzeil. Here the final approach, bit steep, but engine idle and flaps full brought the flying monster smoothly for touch-down after the landing threshold.

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_17

For recreation we had some ice cream in the legendary “Propellerstüberl”.

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_24

After the take-off we headed to the Alpes, as for some on the course we stayed clear from the Zugspitze, but got a nice impression from the Eibsse from a nice lateral angle.

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_61

Next heading towards Walchensee,

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_65

then Starnberger See, and the city of Munich.

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_82

I had the impression that the guys enjoyed it. I couldn’t trace and wetting of panties or puking in the cabin ;-) Who wants to see the entire picture-set: voilà. And the pic of the day, save the best for last:

Fliegen_Arnd&Michael_44

Expat-BBQ with Moritz

Yesterday, it was expat evening at Moritz‘ house in RT Nagar, Bangalore. Although he moved it more than one year, I’d say, well, the house is like totally empty. There is hardly any furniture in it which was quite a relief for myself when people start ridiculing my own spartanic interior :-) Moritz, a great host as usually, had organized beef and chicken which found its organized way onto the grill and then with the help of beer into our stomachs.

Here is Moritz during the preparation in combat position for the “Kräuterbutter”:

BBQ at Moritz 02 - Combatting the

Here a few “chicks” in the mandatory sit-in who did not find their organized way on the grill … ;-)

BBQ at Moritz 13

And here the most little, little, little boys of Bangalore. Although it does not appear like that on the pic, because I had my crossdress-high-heels on, by the side of Moritz I have these few moments in life where I with 1,93 meters feel small.

BBQ at Moritz 12 - Little Boys from Bangalore

Say “yes” to Venture Capital

Admittedly, entrepreneurs are as as diverse as the rest of human mankind, so very different types prevail which gives the necessary challenging spice to any discussion. So, I often run into clashes with other entrepreneurs when it comes to the question: Is a venture capitalist funding your company a good thing? And my clear and unambiguous attitude is: YES! I was thinking about this issue over and over and today ran into this article from Business Week which lists the pros and the cons. And I am strongly inclined towards the “good”, not with disregarding the “bad” and the “ugly”.

My point, however, is when I talk to other entrepreneurs who don’t want a VC in their company which includes mostly also on the board: “I don’t want to lose my independance” or “I don’t want anybody else in my company.” Somehow you can hear is the suble resonance of “I bacame self-employed because I am unable to have someone above me.” So what? I my usual vulgar language I’d respond: You are always the whore of someone. Of your clients, customers, of your wife, girl friend etc. So in this case you have someone in your company who has a say but who at the same time might be many times smarter that yourself when it comes to getting your company off the ground and making it really successful. And success in business, as dull as it may sound, is in the first place wealth creation, and not playground creation for entrepeneurs who see their missions, visions, self-indulgence or all three come on top of their agenda. Sometimes it can really help to get a sober reality check before your get obsessed with something and lost the natural distance for objectivity. It should finally be mentioned, that only a few fast and high scaling businesses are interesting for VCs. But if your are in one of them, and disregard a VC which can make the most out of your concept, you forgo the true potential it contains.

Terrorist Attack in Bombay

Just the news broke that Bombay again has been the target for a terrorist attack this evening. This event seems to continue the tragic tradition of the metropolitan to be abused as the playground for terrorists of various motives. Sad for those innocent lives to become victims for staments which can be political or equally “just” of setting claims in the organized crime in Bombay. Those who suffer will certainly not care, yet a fact is that Bombay despite its charme is not necessarily unsafe, but at the same time anything but a stable environment.

The first priority for this attack must be to help the injured, and not run through unfounded analysis. But whoever wants to get a picture of the unimaginable complexity of Bombay, including its nasty side of intervowen political movements, religious seperatists, administration, entertainment, finance and industry, should read Suketu Mahta’s “Maximum City – Bombay lost and found”. A phenomenal into-depth account of what is cooking beneath Bombay’s surface.

Bombay in Monsun Floods

While Germany is drying in the turbo heat this summer and presenting itself from the best side our guests for the football championship can expect, Bombay is again in monsun-floods. According to this article in BBC Online, it does not seem to be as bad as last where when more than 1,000 people died, but still bad enough to badly cripple public life in the 18 mn cosmopolitan city. Also the airport had to shut its operation temporarily.

Don’t blame the weatherman, but it is fair to ask questions why this city of the millionaires and billionaires is not able to get a decent grip on this sort of infrastructure needed for working drains. My explanation based on my fascincation to foreigners goes like “This city stinks, both from garbage and from money.” And this seems to be the problem. That those with the money do not really care as they will suffer least and this or that way the rain will go aways. From the motivational standpoint, given the well known issues with public governance in India, those with money are not willing to fund expenses where the concrete will not hit the road, but rather feed the pockets of several bureacratic enablers. Or lets rather call the disablers. And to my perception then the good old blame game is in full swing, which goes even up to the judiciary. I have never seen a judge digging a channel well. Have you … ?

Germany Out – Long Live Germany

Drama in Germany: What a match, what a defeat. Football can be so bitter-sweet. Although the weather could not be any better and hotter, a layer of depression lies in the air after Germany went out yesterday 0:2 in the world championship. Not that Italy was not the slightly better team, but getting the goal in the last minute of the match is modestly speaking unfortunate. The whole country is in a state of shock, what had begun as a dream for the stars, has ended yesterday with a landing back on earth. After grieving comes recovery, and given the spirit of this great country, there is no doubt that the glue that has brought together this country during the tournament will prevail and make “New Germany” a new beginning for our land. Let the wiser men speak.

“If you want to win, you must learn to lose”, (Bruce Lee)

or here my most, most favourite poem as a guiding for the day

Invictus
by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Germany 2006: Keep the Flags waving

Germany during the Football World Championship is in a state like I have never known before. My home country has grown up, in all the aspects of the meaning. It it no longer a child which needs care or paternalism like after World War 2. Furthermore, it is no longer in puberty with volatile up- and downswings in its mood, including self-depreciating inferiority complexes. Also no adolecent, trying to be cool, but in its inner core still with a portion of unsecurity like in the last years of our previous sickening government.

Today, it feels like it has matured, accepted its becoming in age, and the transformations that come along with a grown-up body. These transformations especially become obvious that I feel we have a sort of “Neues Deutschland” (=New Germany) in front of us. This expression would certainly be appropriate if it hadn’t been spoiled by the title of Eastern Germany’s leading communist newspaper. Yet, devoid of that stain, this country has re-invented itself for the better. The transformation of its obvious physical appearance extend particularly to the kind of people who gather behind the German flag. I felt over-delighted to see people from Asia, Africa, South America etc. finding some sort of identity and taking pride in it, together e.g. celebrating Germany’s victory on Friday on Munich’s Leopoldstraße. A pride which is inclusive, which takes into account the responsibility that a grown-up carries for her deeds and which cannot by definition be exclusive to the belonging to a broader community, both in its domestic homeplay and its international role. Needless to mention that such a reponsibility can only relate to a tangible day-to-day concept if there is a clear “Leitkultur” with a robust stance to defend what is worth defending. Constantly succumbing to the “dictatorship of relativism” is not an option.

See these two charming ladies, Conny and Jutta from Audible where I was gladly allowed to lie in front before the match Germany vs. Argentina on Friday. They both explained something like: “Well, in the beginning of the tournament we were a bit hesitant to put on the German fan gear, but now where this countrywide enthusiasm has developed, we want to contribute to it and it’s great.” No political statement, rather a declaration pro community.

Fanblock_FIFA2006_2

If you are an American, an Indian or a Swede, you might have your flag on a pole in your garden and it’s totally normal. Till now in Germany, it was not normal, it was an issue. Irrespective how the German football team eventually scores, my biggest wish after that tournament: Don’t regress to childhood. And keep the flags waving.