I was born in 1971 and my earliest computer experience came from wanting a ATARI gaming console, which my dad wouldn't buy me. So I had to get him into buying me a computer instead.
Today I love designing applications that are innovative and fun to use. I also love venturing into new technologies and put them to work combining my technological with my commercial knowledge. In my past I was lucky to ride the larger waves of IT Development from 1992 on. I reached each wave about 3-5 years before it hit mainstream. During my work I always held close contact to research facilities to discuss new possibilities early on (such as XML in 1997). I found the computer underground to be a reasonable source of trends as well (for example XML, PHP, MP3, DivX, IM, VOIP, MMORPG).
I'm constantly trying to incorporate those new technologies into my products for the benefit of my clients.
I founded my first computer company during my bank apprenticeship at age 20, selling computers and then small Novell networks to companies and friends. A close friend of mine, Jens Derwahl, influenced me on doing so, because he showed me how to achieve a 30% margin.
Then margins dropped drastically and I started at a Customer Relationship Company called TPS Labs when the wasn’t a word for CRM yet. By luck I was one of the first 20 employees at TPS Labs AG back in 1994. Founded by Philip Debbas and Till Gartner, TPS was one of the very first start-ups, when nobody in Germany knew what a start-up was. TPS developed and sold Customer Relationship Software 8 years before the mainstream. Within the next years TPS strived from around 20 to 140 employees. The exiting thing about TPS Labs was that we felt like one family reaching for a common goal; making TPS successful. We lived TPS back then. All my friends were in that company, we worked all day and after work we would have dinner and drinks together.
During my time at TPS Labs I picked up the unusually familial managing style of Philip Debbas and Till Gartner. I have never experienced such a close relationship between team members all striving for the same goal, creating an environment that is fun to be part of and yet striving for the exceptional. TPS Labs was one of the first start-ups in Germany that raised venture capital when the word "Venture Capital" was still obscure to most people. Although TPS Labs is no more, most of the team members are still in close contact. This was probably my biggest influence on managing teams and creating healthy yet striving working environments. I'm still happy that I could be a part of that.
When creating my second company brainjunction GmbH in 1999 I tried to create the same atmosphere in Berlin. We had a fabulous 160 sqm Flat right in Berlin Mitte. During that time we were able to acquire development contracts from DaimlerChrysler Services, Schering, AxelSpringer, BertelsmannSpringer and numerous other blue chips. First I used to live there myself, having one 30 sqm room for the company. In 2002 the company had grown so much I was living on 15 sqm. I finally decided to leave and rent my own apartment.
For my studies I had to move to Berlin in 1998, so I had to leave TPS Labs and started at DaimlerChrysler Services building the company’s first intranet and following that extended it to an international Corporate Portal. We had to do a lot of convincing to do back then. I designed the user interface and interaction paradigms (user experience) for the corporate portal and did the architecture for it as well. Finally the Board of Directors approved my plans for an XML-driven Portal in 1998. When designing the DaimlerChrysler Services portal in 1998 few companies even had an intranet. I depicted an adaptable content management that was usable by anyone without big training, so all of DaimlerChrysler's subsidies could publish their content and get known throughout the company without neglecting corporate identity, thus eliminating the need for a central editing department. It was much like the Wiki-Principle Websites today, putting the User in charge of the content. We used Vignette and XML where any subsidies could create pages without any internet knowledge by using a template toolbox. The system was multi language and fed the intranet as well as the internet presentations from one database reducing redundancy and maintenance effort. To my knowledge its still in place as of today.
While working on the DaimlerChrysler Services Portal the team involved grew quite large over time including subsidies and other departments. So things would become quite messy over time with all kinds of project plans, specification documents, minutes and stuff. Time needed to update plans and find the most recent versions would grow. I thought we needed some central application to coordinate the teams and share documents and all that. I quickly programmed a Web-Browser Environment where everything one would need in daily project live was present, depending on his role in the project. So the project member would get a list of his tasks with time frame, deadline, document templates and estimated effort. He would get a centralized document repository with versioning, so he's is able to immediately find the latest spec document. Another thing was that project plans were always outdated, so we needed something to update the plan in a distributed fashion. Each team member had his own tasks, then aggregate that back into the full plan and baseline. Project management could run reports on rates, effort spent and remaining effort and so on. The team room was used later on by different management teams, one of them coordinating the Daimler Benz and Chrysler Merger. The application was so easy to use, there was no training time and using this the teams adopted the tool on their own and spread it to other departments that were then able to coordinate larger project over multiple locations. Today those applications are called collaborative project management suites.
Seeing the success of this I thought this would be appropriate for other companies as well. so I set out to found my own software company in 1999. DaimlerChrysler Services backed me with a generous frame contract to help me get started. I called the company brainjunction meaning to be a place where experts would meet, work and share insight, creating something new from the unique contributions of each talent. We did consulting projects too in order to fund the product development on our own. In Mid 2002 we wanted to take our project management product to the market (We called it Shark for Shared Knowledge) and I admitted a external investor to the company as an fundamental investment into the future of brainjunction.
Although we had good success with clients and resellers, the crash in 2001 made it impossible to sell sufficient licenses as a small company. As a software company in early market entry needs capital until license and support revenue kicks in, I was not able to maintain brainjunction. In 2003 times for venture capital were pretty bad, so I had to shut brainjunction down September 16th 2003.
In November 2003 I took on a new position at SPM Technologies. After 6 months SPM was bought by SAP Systems Integration. Today I live in Frankfurt and work for SAP AG as the User Experience Lead for a new mid market ERP offering in Walldorf.