BY YOUR OWN BOOTSTRAPS #1: ANNA-LENA SCHILLER

The winning team of the next betapitch not only gets to move into betahaus | Berlin and become a part of the betahaus community, but will also get a package of services and products to help them develop their business further. The package is solely put together by people from inside the betahaus community. In this series we want to introduce some of these friends that will help you pull yourself up ‘by your own bootstraps’. First in line is Anna-Lena Schiller.

Anna-Lena Schiller describes herself as an “information architect” and “visual sense-maker”. Having noticed the importance of clear visual communication in the success of a business, Anna-Lena – a freelance consultant on visual thinking – works with clients to help simplify their often-complex ideas into simpler ones, while adding an eye-catching visual element into the mix. As part of this year’s bootstrapping package, Anna-Lena will be offering the winning startup team a consultation on visual thinking.

In general, how do you go about helping someone translate whatever complex idea they may have into a simple image?

It really depends on the individual or company with which I work. Some companies are already really structured, and know exactly what they want to translate into pictures. Sometimes, however, I have to try and understand exactly what they want to communicate. I usually start by asking people to describe their idea verbally, and from there, I apply a process of analysis and structuring, and eventually translate their words into images. There isn’t really a specific blueprint for this process, as the outcome is almost always different.

The images I help clients come up with can be simple, such as a logo, or something representing a more complex process, or a series of ideas – something like a comic strip or series of storyboards.

Do you think it is a common problem among young startups to be unable to express themselves with images?

I actually think that many companies – especially startups – are good at pitching their ideas verbally, and expressing what they want and what they have in that way. Where they often struggle, however, is with visual expression, and that’s where I try and help them out.

Do you find yourselves working a lot with any one field in particular, or do your clients come from a variety of different fields? Is there any field that you find is more often in need of assistance in visual communication than others?

Good question. I work with clients from all kinds of different fields: from tech startups, to the health sector, to even school boards. It doesn’t depend so much on any one industry itself as it does on the cultural environment in which these clients work – on just how much of a role visual representations already play.

Lastly, what’s one thing you expect to see this year at betapitch among contestants?

One thing I’d like to see is less PowerPoint presentations! I like to see a visual presentation that’s both innovative and effective, and makes use of an original medium. Too many people use PowerPoint these days, which is a shame, as there are plenty of other ways in which one can express their ideas visually.


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