At heart, I’m an engineer and I love building things. Fortresses as a kid, websites as a teen and software as a professional. The motivation is the same: I want to make my ideas come to life and share them with others.
How can we build products that people love?
University taught me technical skills but while working I quickly realised technology alone isn’t the answer. Your technology needs to touch people, inspire them and solve their issues. That’s what I explored throughout my career: How can we build products that people love? How can we inspire teams and companies to change? How can technology support these processes?
I was fortunate to gain experience in startups, scaleups and screw-ups. At XING I learnt a lot about social networks and the B2B side of them. At Runtastic I was part of the journey from less than 100 to over 250 employees, 150M users and 200M app downloads.
We’re here to make a dent in the universe
The different angles as an engineer, product manager and people manager have given me the opportunity to approach problems holistically. Without a holistic view, we can’t solve the systemic issues that we undoubtedly face. The same lesson applies to my own life. My career is not a separate part. It’s one of many parts that make me. As a father of two, I couldn’t stand the thought that my work doesn’t contribute to a better future.
trive studio is the next step in my journey to make the world a better place. The skills within the trive team complement each other well. We’re equipped with strong values, past experiences and a purpose. We have high goals but we think they’re within reach. With current market conditions and pressing problems, it’s the time and place for companies like trive to, well… thrive.
How can we use technology to empower people?
Technology is a two-sided coin. We can use it to connect people, enable them to live fuller, meaningful lives or we can use it to control, manipulate and extort people. Through technology, we have managed to erase many existential worries but created others. Our lives have become more complex. Too complex for any single brain to understand. We now need technology to connect and amplify our brainpower to overcome humanity’s obstacles.
It took us 100.000 years to figure out agriculture. Another 10.000 years to leave this orbit. Now we have less than a century to reinvent and transform our society.
It won’t work without technology, evolution simply isn’t fast enough. Ideas can now spread faster than wildfire and they can quickly break down and replace the rotten pillars our modern world is built on. That’s scary but it can also be a grand opportunity.
However, I also don’t believe that I have all the answers. That’s why technologies that democratise information and give voice to the many are so important. The early days of the internet were a powerful example of that. But we let the old power dynamics creep in and take over.
You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
Social networks came with a lot of promises but they also showed their downsides. That’s why I am so interested in blockchain technologies like Ethereum. We can design systems that are not controlled by the few and don’t rely on pure altruism to succeed. But it’s still early and we haven’t reached the tipping point in adoption.
On the other hand, we have boring technology that is cheap enough to be more accessible. Just think of the adoption of mobile devices — enough to create wireless ad-hoc networks not controlled by centralised parties. Or how we can now 3D print things from prosthetics to whole houses. The challenge is to contain those demons and lead them in the right direction. Can we have more 3D printed prosthetics without 3D printed guns? I want to see drones protecting wildlife but not drones to smuggle drugs. This tension is what makes technology so exciting and full of opportunities!
What are our biggest challenges today?
Another tension point is how we live and work. I find the interplay between urbanisation and remote work particularly interesting. We can see many developments aiming to make fast-growing cities more liveable. From high-speed transportation and tiny houses to vertical farming. At the same time, we have whole industries moving towards remote work giving many the opportunity to leave the cities and connect to remote places. This clash between megatrends creates tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and offers people the flexibility they need.
Or just look at how our consumption is shifting. Sustainability has become a major factor in our purchase decisions, yet many brands still treat it as a marketing concern. We now spend more money on digital products and physical ownership is often trumped by the sharing economy. How can we use these trends to amplify positive impact?
Entrepreneurship means turning problems into opportunities
We could simply appeal to the ones in power and lean back but I don’t believe this leads to lasting change. The few privileged in power, the ones who benefit the most, have the least incentive to fix the system. We need to transform the system from the inside. I believe that we can prove that a fast-growing business can be both sustainable and profitable even in globalised markets. I think it’s possible to raise humanity to the next level and overcome our biggest challenge as a species so far. We need the fast pace of business and commerce to do it.
Will we succeed? Time will tell but I’m ready to give it my best.