Christoph Fahle
March 26, 2012

By Your Own Bootsraps #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.

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.

Want to become part of the betahaus community? Find out how !

Claudius: Design is the core of what we do and what we’re all passionate about, but hardly our only focus. Design, at LAUDO, stands more for designing a whole strategy, often very close connected with marketing. We’re developing websites and apps for our clients, but also help them reach their target audience through SEO, Google ranking developing newsletter systems, print brochures etc.

Claudius: A lot of other companies are seeing themselves as a service provider and don’t really question what their client wants and why. We pay very close attention if the work we provide for a client is in line with our personal values and vision. It’s not just delivering a product to the client, getting the paycheck and leaving, but also building relationships with clients and collaborating. Because they are often our doors to new opportunities

We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’

‘’We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’’
Photos by Lea GK

Orietta: I think one thing that makes us stand out on the market and our number one strength is the team. We’re a small team and we all look in the same direction and have the same approach and vision. That makes the communication go smoothly.

Joey: Another thing is that we have a very hands-on approach. We are the guys, who say: ‘’Okay, let’s do it’’. That’s our culture.

Orietta: When we started looking for a place I was already involved in the betahaus community. Working from previous betahaus locations and attending the community events, I already knew a lot of people in the 'haus ...

Joey: Yes, I remember on the first day we came to betahaus Orietta was like ‘’Oh, hey! Hi! Hey, how are you doing? Hi!'' giving high-fives to everybody and we were like: What is going on, why does she know everybody?!

Orietta: Well, the vibe in betahaus is just super easy going. You directly feel that you can meet people easily. If you go to the kitchen for example and just ask ''Hey how are you, what are you working on?''. We made many new contacts too.

Claudius: What makes it nice here is that people are enjoying being here and working on their projects.

Photos by Lea GK

Claudius: The truth is, we could probably afford an office for the same price, but that would put us between these four walls, which put you into a box, much harder to exit and to connect with new people. We went for a Team Desk because here we have so much more space and everything seems much more connected. You can easily meet people.

Orietta: And it’s just so spacious here. We have this super nice garden.

Claudius: I like being focused on my work but I also like if someone disturbs me from time to time. It helps when the door opens. In an office we would work in a whole different way. Here Gillord (Coworking Manager) is coming in everyday, giving me a hug, telling me about his workout .. that’s the main reason - the personal connection.

The day in betahaus starts with a hug and ends with a hug. The time in between is pretty much spent on doing what you love.
Photos by Lea GK


After you’ve taken care of your paperwork and you’ve signed up both in Bürger- and Finanzamt, you are all set up to start working. One of the best ways to get integrated into the city fast, meet like-minded people, and even find clients is by working from a coworking space. There are tons of benefits for freelancers and luckily Berlin has a lot to offer in this way. A coworking space is a physically collaborative shared workspace, which brings all kinds of creatives and entrepreneurs together. It’s a perfect place for startups, freelancers, digital nomads and even corporates searching for innovation. And it’s the biggest advantage towards the typical office space is that it pushes a collaborative exchange between its members and facilitates the creative process and networking.

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