Christoph Fahle
December 19, 2011

Startup Of The Week #21 FingerspitzenGEFÜHL

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.

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

In our previous interview from 2017 Lubomila told us about how a trip to Morocco got her really concerned about the future of our planet and absolutely changed her life path. After this trip, Lubomila became obsessed with learning about climate change. She started reading books, taking online courses and pursued her own research which would later serve as the foundation of their current online platform.

Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: I started creating a massive spreadsheet with indicators about every country on our planet. Then I compared how much money flows into these countries with regards to protecting nature, versus what is actually happening in the country. It turned out that there are a lot of discrepancies. That’s when I decided to quit my job in London, move to Berlin and start my own company. And this is how in April 2017, Plan A was born. 

After meeting Christoph (Co-Founder, betahaus | Berlin) at the birthday party of betahaus | Sofia, and talking with him about sustainability in Berlin, Lubomila came to betahaus for a trial month and never left. In the beginning, she worked alone on the project. On her own, Lubomila developed the first version of their website and made a call on social media for people who want to help her with her mission. And this is how Nathan joined PlanA in 2017.

Nathan: I was finishing a project with a former organization that was working in fundraising and communication back then. When I saw the call on social media saying that Lubomila was searching for support to do fundraising for sustainable and  climate action, I directly hopped on the call and we have been working together ever since.

With two people on its team, Plan A started taking shape and turned into the first-ever knowledge and donation platform solely for the fight against climate change. Every month they focused on one project, spreading information and raising money. 

Photo by Lea GK


Lubomila: One of the biggest issues that I faced really early in the process was that the science behind climate change was really complicated and very poorly or not at all communicated. It was hard for stakeholders to understand the problem and get involved. With the initial platform in 2017, I wanted to make it clear to people how they can get involved, explain the different projects we have running around the world and, what kind of problem they’re solving.

Nathan: It’s important to add that Plan A has always been data-driven. The foundation of anything that we do is the data that we’ve been collecting since the beginning.

Lubomila: Exactly! Having this foundation, we now have two sides of Plan A. One is for the individuals - providing informative content in all kinds of forms and building a community - and the other one is focused on helping businesses become more sustainable. 

Lubomila: Our team has also grown a lot in the last couple of months. We currently have 9 people on the team and we’ve evolved in something like the United Nations because we have people from South Africa, France, India, UK, Australia, I personally come from Bulgaria …

Photo by Lea GK


Nathan: The first step is always to learn more about the problem, understand it in-depth and then find how to make positive changes in your lifestyle, day by day. We as a company try to inform individuals and also empower them to speak up, and use their voice in their surroundings and social circles and so they can start implementing this climate change action on a bigger scale.

Lubomila: That’s why since the beginning, we focus mostly on gathering data on the problem and sharing it in a fun and digestible way. There are a few channels that we focus on when it comes to the connection with individuals. We have The Academy, where we do interviews and expert analysis explaining the problems in a very kind way. We have Mighty Networks, which is a closed platform where individuals and NGOs can talk to each other and exchange knowledge. And of course, we have events, which is a really powerful tool for us to build a community. These events are focused on meeting scientists, on fundraising for environmental organizations or on educating people about issues that they maybe didn't know of.

Nathan: One of the most important parts of your mission against climate change as an individual is making it fun. It’s not about limiting yourself or making huge sacrifices. We rather see it as an opportunity and it can actually be cool.

Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: That’s true! What we have made sure that happens there and Nathan has been amazing with this, is that we consistently speak positively about the issues, not because we’re in a positive situation, but because the only way you can empower people is by giving them a set of tools with which they can act and encouraging them that they have the capacity to be part of the change. If we continue speaking about apocalyptic statistics, that in 12 years, we're going to die or that you have to blame this stakeholder or that stakeholder, we're never going to get anywhere close to solving the issues. Solving the issues is about collaboration.

Nathan: My main challenge as a head of content was how to get a maximum number of people on board and make them as efficient as possible. Since we are a data-driven company, a lot of my time is spent translating this information into something that is understandable and actionable I’m constantly looking at everything that everyone does outside of Plan A and finding a way to represent our content in a positive and engaging way.

Photo by Lea GK

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Lubomila: The carbon footprint of a company is always involving what's happening in the actual office but it also involves the external partners and choices. We always advise companies to start in-house, looking at what's happening in their office and within their team. As second comes the communication aspect including how you present yourself as a brand and what you communicate to your customers or online followers. Then the final step is actually implementing changes on a product level, looking deep at the supply chain, and checking if all small parts of your product are sustainable - for ex. the packaging, products made with palm oil, etc.

Lubomila: Our focus has been shifted towards actually educating businesses on what is sustainability and helping them connect to actions that can make them immediately more sustainable, and reduce their carbon emission level. This is also where our new tool comes in handy. We have built a platform which calculates, monitors and offsets CO2 emissions, that are created by a certain company and connects them to environments and projects that you can now see on our platform.

Photo by Lea GK

Well, both. Currently we offer the following two options: shorter publicly available Brand Playlists and long-form private Soundtracks for spaces. For both of them we work closely with the client to understand how sound fits into their brand DNA and what their audience is like.

We believe that the guests’ experience with a particular space doesn’t have to begin and end with their stay. The idea of the Brand Playlist is to be a public brand playlists designed to engage the customers before, during, and after their visit at a space. It’s always accessible for them and serves as a new, dynamic marketing channel.

The Soundtrack is slightly different. It takes sometimes up to weeks of work and is designed by a world-class artist, DJ, or tastemaker. For it we first work with you to develop a deep understanding of your business and style. Then we match you with the perfect artist, DJ, or tastemaker to create unique, always fresh playlists, custom tailored to match your brand. 

In both cases, we update them regularly based on guest habits and clients’ needs. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.

And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my  techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by. 


You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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