1. When you do not work as an IP, what do you do?
I’m a Serial Social Entrepreneur. In short, I look for sustainable business ideas and implement them together with my wife Marie. You might have read about my social coffee business in Parallel Lives of our IPs #4 in 2018.
Since then, we launched Solarbalkon with which we sell plug & play solar panels for the balcony.
We invented an oat milk concentrate. And last year we founded a social real estate business: We’re now also renovating buildings energetically and rent the apartments to single parents in need.
2. Why so many irons in the fire?
Our first social business idea was born on our honeymoon trip though Ethiopia in 2016. Three years and two children later, we became increasingly aware of the urgency of the climate crisis.
That’s why we wanted to put our working time into fighting this crisis. The coffee startup was already running relatively independently at this point and we had capacity to embark on a new adventure.
I am a very curious person. Deep diving into completely new topics is one of the reasons I like working as an IP. Through the creation of different social startups, I can have that advantage also in my entrepreneurial life. So we choose our business ideas with a focus on whether they will be able to run with limited input from us after the startup phase.
3. How does being an IP influence your social impact start-up and how does your social start-up influence your IP-career?
Being an IP allows me to meet and work with new people and I enjoy this a lot. It gives me a good balance and is a great source of inspiration. Having the opportunity to work with a-connect also offers a sense of financial security that is helpful for taking risks as a social entrepreneur.
In the last few years, the focus in my entrepreneurial and personal life has been on sustainability. I was able to use these experiences in my IP career as well. A-connect gave me the opportunity to bring the topic to the forefront in my IP projects.
4. What are the biggest challenges in doing business with a positive impact?
There are big differences across our businesses. I’ll give you an example: Finding customers is a big challenge for our solar panels because most people don’t even know that the possibility of plug & play solar exists. But it is sadly very easy to find single parents in need of affordable housing with low energy costs.
Rather than seeing specific challenges that only social businesses face, I would say that doing business with an impact offers a very specific advantage: It gives you a tremendous motivation.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of Potsdam Climate Institute and one of world’s most eminent scientists, said: “I’m telling you that we’re putting our kids onto a global school bus that will with 98% probability end in a deadly crash.”
Our work is fighting against this crash to happen. This is the biggest challenge facing any human being on the planet. And it motivates us a lot.
5. What was your best moment in your entrepreneurial life so far?
The moment when I realized that working for a good cause, having a fulfilling career, raising children and spending lots of time with my family – all this is possible if you create your own job.