Christian became a QX Member in 2002, when he was a student at the WWU in Münster for business administration. He started his first company, an university merchandising shop, together with his long-term business partner Sven Hecker at the age of 23 while still finishing the university diploma. Since then, Christian has held different positions at Roland Berger, 1&1 Internet, and Vodafone, always with strong focus on Software as a Service topics. In the end, Christian went back being a full time entrepreneur in 2015 with founding the latest company Clevver GmbH.
QX: Christian, 2018 began with exciting news, you and your business partner, Sven Hecker (also QX-member), secured a high six-digit seed funding from well-known investors like Cornelius Boersch (Mountain Partners), Volker Rofalski (Heliad Partners) und Andreas Perreiter (u.a. simyo) for your company. Congratulations! Tell us in a few lines what Clevver is all about.
Christian: Clevver is a software service for internationalization: Companies can use our service to do business in any country on the planet – easily and digitally. We provide over 55 international hot-spots business addresses, post digitization, international phone numbers, company incorporation services and many more services that help you run a business in a foreign country in the future. Our vision is to become the #1 brand for worldwide internationalization.
QX: How did Sven and you come up with the idea?
Christian: With our prior company derTaler GmbH, which we started in 2006, we quickly grew to become a major player for customized medal products in Germany. One of our customer groups is state institutions and armed forces. We soon started to plan our expansion to other countries, starting with the UK. But we had to learn, that the Royal Navy would not buy from a German company. So we needed to be perceived as a local company, with a local address, a local phone number and a UK bank account. There are services providers in the UK that offer such services, but not one provider can offer all services and when you want to replicate this setup in France, Italy, USA or any other country, there is no global service. That was the beginning of Clevver.
QX: The two of you started Clevver in 2013 and until recently you funded the company by yourselves. Why did you decide to seek out for outside capital now?
Christian: Because of derTaler GmbH we had the great chance to bootstrap Clevver the first years. That is why we still own 100% of our company. But we came to a turning point where we had to decide what Clevver wants to be: a steady growing medium sized company or a market leader with exponential growth. We strongly believe that Clevver has the potential to change the way companies internationalize. We found the right Angels that support this vision. The investment gives us the financial freedom to hire amazing people and be much quicker in developing new products for our platform. For 2018 we also plan a larger investment round which will enable us to further grow with our Berlin team.
QX: What can we expect to see in 2018 and the years to come?
Christian: We plan to grow to over 100 locations for virtual office operations worldwide by the end of the year. We will offer company formation in the most important markets as well as supporting services like telephone numbers, translation, etc.
Next to Berlin and Vietnam we will open our own Clevver office in Boston (USA), as the US is for sure the biggest market for us. Also, every day new opportunities arise, so there are many interesting projects to come.
QX: As an expert in supporting digital foundations of companies and from your experiences as a serial entrepreneur, what’s the critical asset in an increasingly digitized and globalized world to succeed as a start-up founder?
Christian: I believe that persistence is the most important quality for an entrepreneur. It will never go smoothly until you suddenly become a unicorn company. There will always be situations in the beginning that will challenge the existence of the whole company, you need to stay calm, keep checking if you are still running in the right direction but keep running.
Also, it becomes more and more critical to have the right people on board that believe in your vision and can add with their own experience to it. It is very hard as a small company with low budgets to get the right people but if you do, it pays out exponentially.
QX: Berlin is not only Clevver’s headquarter, but also your personal home-base. Why did you opt for Berlin?
Christian: Berlin is an amazing and vibrant city. The quality of life is remarkable as Berlin offers a huge variety of good food, many cultural events, beautiful places and great bars to go out. But mostly the quality for a startup business is incredible: It is the number 1 tech-hub in Europe, you get access to a great network of entrepreneurs that share a common visions and problems, there is access to an international pool of highly skilled employees and much more. If you have never been to Berlin - I encourage anyone to visit.
QX: The hottest spot in town right now?
Christian: Our office. Just kidding. Nevertheless, every QXler is invited to come and have a beer with us. In all other regards, the best place to have a wine in the evening sun is for me the Strandbar at the Monbijou park, directly across the museum island.
QX: What is your personal Vanity?
Christian: I am a geek when it comes to technical equipment. Therefore, I always need to have the latest greatest high tec. Also, I am trying to get one license to operate something new every year. This year it will be the motorcycle.
Thank you for the talk!