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Christoph Fahle
March 5, 2013

Studying Arts and Selling Copy Machines - Ralph Riecke and His Office Hour

Business analyst Ralph Riecke came back to betahaus and is offering an Office Hours to share his experience and help startups to deal with the problems they usually don’t even think about or don't expect to come up.

Who are you?

I am a business analyst at hub:raum, the incubator program of Deutsche Telekom. Prior to that I worked as a strategic consultant and have many years of marketing and sales experience. I spend two years in San Francisco working as an consultant on ICT innovation projects and scouting for potential businesses. Before flying over to the US, I worked for a mobile, location based, social community  startup here in Berlin, Germany where I practiced my startup and business skills.

After coming back to Berlin from Silicon Valley I joined the hub:raum, the incubator & accelerator program of Deutche Telekom. I really enjoy working together with people who are passionate and excited about the work that they’re doing here. For me it is a perfect way how to apply my knowledge and experience on the new businesses which apply at hub:raum and bring it together with the resources of Deutche Telekom (DT).

What are you working on at hub:raum?

My field of work ranges from application-inflow analysis, deal negotiation and also consulting with the startups that are in the incubation program. It is important to estimate the fit of the startup into DT in the very beginning and also vice verser, see if we fit to the team.

During the acceleration program I provided consulting to the startups that we had here and gave them some insights and advices on the VC business. The program provided the startups with networking and mentoring from highly experienced people and programs like from GA., whichmakes the accelerator unique.

Why do you come back to the betahaus?

I appreciate to stay in touch with the betahaus community and try to give back, what betahaus provides to the Berlin Start-up scene. There are always many people  with different backgrounds perspectives which provide new insights and perspective on given processes and structures. I will offer my knowledge to the betahaus members – how to form their idea, structure it and consequently sell it to their customers and possible VC’s.

Which fields are you able to help out with?

During the office hours I’d like to share some of my experience that I gained throughout all my career and help the startups to deal with the problems they usually don’t even think about or the ones that will come up.

It includes investment perspectives, all business relevant topics and also the project management of the businesses, e.g. which milestones to set, which steps will lead them there and so one. I try to provide advice on a wide range of topics, reflecting my background where I’ve –studied at the University of Arts, was selling copy machines, worked in the Silicon Valley – I’m really looking forward meeting you...

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Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them. 

Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.

Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for  betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear. 

Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.

Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK

Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !


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