Ruud van der Weide is the founder of FingerSpitzenGefühl – an online marketing company that seeks to help Dutch e-commerce entrepreneurs expand their businesses into the German market. Based in Berlin, FSG uses the cultural similarities between the two countries as well as their mix of German and Dutch staff to ensure a successful relationship between Dutch e-commerce firms and German consumers.
1. How did you come up with the idea of FingerSpitzenGefühl?
I was already living in Berlin when I came up with the idea, and was doing similar work for some contacts back in the Netherlands. They knew I was living in Germany, and they needed someone here to help them with tasks such as finding local contacts or optimising their advertising campaigns. I began to see that there was a demand for this kind of work.
2. You work to ensure the successful expansion of Dutch e-commerce firms into the German market. Why is this important, and how can either side – both Dutch entrepreneurs and German consumers – benefit from this specific relationship?
All the companies I work for are already relatively successful in the Netherlands, and they all wish to enter the German market. The German market is about five times the size of the Dutch market, so there is plenty of potential there. My customers realize that, in order to do that, they would need local expertise, which is what I offer, and that’s the people in my team. The freelancers I work with are all German, and they bring their expertise to the table. Online marketing has a lot to do with language and culture, and that’s why we work specifically with German people.
3. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way as a young startup?
One of the things I find is that a lot of people tend to view expanding into Germany as something easier than it is, when it is, in fact, quite a big step to take. So I need to convince my customers that they really have to know what they are doing and develop a cross-border strategy. That is the biggest challenge. It’s not just about translating a website, but also really thinking about who you are, what you are selling, who your customers are, and so on.
4. Why did you choose betahaus as your base? What do you like about betahaus, and what do you feel could be improved?
I was working at home in the beginning, and what I didn’t like about that was that there was no clear border between my private life and my work. So I looked for a place where I could go and work, and I found betahaus. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. What I really like about the environment here is that I feel like I have an office I can go to, and I’m surrounded by entrepreneurially-minded people who are all working. I feel like we are really going somewhere as a company - even though we are just three people and a bunch of freelancers, we have all the facilities of a large office, and we are surrounded by a lot of people. What I like the most is all the different kinds of expertise you can find in all the people who work here.
5. What kind of advice would you give those who wish to create their own startup?
Worry about your financial planning from day one! Mind you, it’s not all about making money, but it’s good to keep a close eye on costs and revenues in the beginning, because it’s too easy to burn money very quickly at first, and then fall short later on.
6. What can we expect from FingerSpitzenGefühl in the future?
We hope to grow to a point where we can have anywhere between 15 and 20 customers, which is our major goal right now. I would like to work with a dedicated team of about 10 people, and really try to be successful when working with the customers we bring to Germany.
Interview conducted by Deepa Sury
Let’s start with the big one. Anyone who has ever moved houses before knows there are tons of tiny expenses that suddenly add up to a very expensive relocation. And that’s just for you and your stuff.
When you start an office from scratch, you’ll have to invest in everything from new furniture to office amenities. You’ll need to outfit meeting rooms and stock the kitchen. Sign a monthly contract with the internet provider. Decorate. Even if you have a lot of these things from your old office, you’ll have to hire someone to help you move it and use up hours of your time getting everything set up.
One of the best parts of moving your team into a coworking space is that most of these costs are already covered in your monthly membership. You’ll move into a fully-furnished space with everything you need to get to work, AND you’ll know exactly how much you have to pay from the time you move in.
In a traditional office, you’ll typically have to sign a year lease (or longer). You’ll be committing to a fixed space that won’t grow with your team or give you flexibility if things change. Unless your contract goes month-to-month, you might just find yourself in a lifelong cycle of “let's figure it out next year”.
We believe that your office should help you grow, not hold you back. That’s why our Team Spaces come with leases as short as two months. Your rates are on a per-member basis, so you can easily expand your team or take over new rooms without having to break your lease. We work beside you rather than against you to find an arrangement that gives you the comfort of a home base with flexibility.
Did we mention this was going to be easy?
Just kidding. We definitely did.
But, look. Your space will be fully-furnished from the day you move in. We’ll have the WiFi up-and-running and printers online. The meeting rooms will be ready to go. The kitchenette stocked with mugs and freshly brewed coffee. And you’ll have the support of our coworking team. They’ll provide everything from reception to package handling to space maintenance. They’ll get you oriented in the space and make sure you have what you need to get to work.
New office without the downtime.
Some office spaces have a one-size-fits-all approach, but that's not really our style. The reason no two betahaus locations look the same is because they’re locally designed. And we give our Team Space members this same opportunity to customize their space.
Choose a room with a view of the city or one on the ground floor with easy access to the garden. Change the lighting fixture or bring your own bookshelf. We want teams to be able to white label, decorate, and really make the space their own if they want to.
And if you’re really looking to customize, Team HQs allow teams to collaborate with our architects and coworking team to create a space that is completely bespoke. Whether it’s additional meeting rooms, unconventional seating, or a yoga room, we apply our 10 years of experience in building functional workspace to your creative vision to create something that’s just right.
Probably the biggest benefit of coworking is community and events. Now we know it may not be the first thing you’re looking for as you seek out your next office space, but bear with us.
Imagine using your lunch breaks to chat with someone in your industry. Meeting freelance developers at after-work beers. Networking with investors at BETAPITCH. Pitching at our weekly betabreakfast and getting support and feedback on your new ideas.
betahaus has spent the last 10 years cultivating a community of people who we genuinely like working with. And when you join, your team will become a part of it, too.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.