Week 28

When we started out, traveling usually meant that a few of the must-do-things got postponed to a later date. But that just doesn’t scale for us. That’s why this week note is being written in New York City, more precisely in SoHo’s Bookstore Cafe. But enough with the coffee, why is it that Peter and I are in New York again I hear you asking.

If you, dear reader, haven’t noticed it already: we have a rotation principle for writing week notes and it’s my turn again.

When we started out, traveling usually meant that a few of the must-do-things got postponed to a later date. But that just doesn’t scale for us. That’s why this week note is being written in New York City, more precisely in SoHo’s Bookstore Cafe. It’s not only a good place to shop for some serious print, they also have barista skills. (At least if a La Marzocco machine is any indication, which it usually is.) After being coffeed up with the black gold from Blue Bottle and Gimme! Coffee I went for one of their home brewed iced teas. Also a very good choice.

But enough with the coffee, why is it that Peter and I are in New York again I hear you asking.

Sometimes we are more fortunate than even our confidence into our skills would account for. On our last visit to Gotham, we met up with many interesting people and potential clients with a clear goal: to extend our business beyond Europe. A simple goal, but it isn’t easy to establish yourself in one of the most competitive cities of the world as a Berlin based company.

That said, we were successful and got invited to be part of an amazing project. While we once again can’t really talk about our work (NDA), we can say that much: we are helping a very smart group of people shaping the beginnings of a potentially very successful startup. Our job is to shape the strategy, the product itself, give input on the social and mobile components of the business as well as prepare the European launch of the service.

Going deep into the core of the product itself is exiting and we enjoyed the two full days of working with the whole team a lot. We’re very exited about the things to come and it looks like we will be back to New York soonish as well. We will hang around in New York till Thursday morning before heading back to Berlin. There are some meetings scheduled – we will drop by the Urbanscale office today for example – but if you are interested in meeting up, ping us.

Last week was busy as well. We visited the Berlin based conference re:publica. It’s always fun to see so many geeks come to our home turf. Johannes joined the Seedcamp as a mentor on Thursday. From what I heard, there are some really exiting things happening in the European tech community.

That said, we wish you a great week.

Travel plans: Peter and Igor are in New York till Thursday. Johannes will be in Hamburg on Wednesday. Again, if you’d like to chat, get in touch.

Week 27

How do you communicate what you do in an environment that changes more quickly than the terminology can catch up? This question is a big part of why every three months we go on a two-day retreat, as we did last week.

How do you communicate what you do in an environment that changes more quickly than the terminology can catch up? One popular way in our industry is to rely on buzzwords. This, of course, isn’t the best plan as buzzwords tend to be stripped of meaning. The other way is to find a more abstract description, and concrete examples to make your work more tangible. This question is a big part of why every three months we go on a two-day retreat, as we did last week.

So we carved out Tuesday and Wednesday and headed to Caputh, a tiny town just outside of Berlin. (Claim to fame: Albert Einstein had a summer house here.) These regular strategy days are really quite important for us as they give us time to determine not just how things are going, but why. Where we stand compared to our goals. What to adjust and what to focus on next.

I won’t go into too much detail, but there are a few things that might be useful for you if you’re also in the position of growing your young business.

Communication is key, and it’s not easy. In our case, a big chunk of our client work is under NDA and we can’t talk about it. That means we don’t have much to show for publicly. It also means that the stuff we do outside our client work is all the more visible (think CoCities).

Between last week’s visit to our friends LHBS and our strategy retreat, we’ve come another step closer to being able to tell you what you can actually call what we do:

It’s not so much digital strategy, it’s rather strategies for a digital world.

Bud Cadell: Digital Strategy

We’re taking a cue there from Bud Caddell – he certainly knows what he’s speaking of. As our work evolves, we’ll keep tweaking that description, too. (We don’t expect to ever finish this one, though: If we could ever pigeon-hole ourselves, we’d be doing something wrong.)

Wording aside, here’s a rough sketch of the basic working model we’ve had in mind since we launched:

Third Wave: working model

There’s also some cool stuff coming up. It’s not quite concrete yet, but expect some Friday afterwork meetups soon, and potentially a cross-company-plus-freelancers hackday, Google 20% project-style. It was an idea that came up while sitting outside in the sun with our coworker Fabian Mürmann and our good friend Jens Nikolaus Pentenrieder: There’s so much potential and so many ideas, all we need is to make some time to hack away. Not sure when this might be happening, but I’m really looking forward to it.

That said, it’s going to be a busy week. As this goes live, I’m headed for Hamburg for the day. Wednesday to Friday, Republica will lure all of the German geek scene to Berlin (make sure to say hi). On Thursday, Igor and I will be headed back to New York for a week while Johannes is mentoring at Seedcamp Berlin – if you’d like to meet up in New York or you are in Berlin and want to have coffee, ping us!

Image by Bud Caddell (some rights reserved)

On the road: NYC, SXSW

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be on the road to meet folks and go to SXSW. March 5-10 we’ll be in NYC, from March 11-15 at Austin for SXSW. If you want to meet up, ping us!

Dopplr Travel Plan

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be on the road to meet folks and to attend SXSW. Here’s our rough schedule to make it easier to meet up.

March 5 – 10 we’ll be NYC. Sunday we’ll be at Transportation Camp East. The rest of the week we’re going to be around to meet and talk. Brownie points for proposing a meetup in a great coffee shop.

March 11-15 we’ll be headed for Austin to attend SXSW, where Igor hosts a panel (“How does SciFi influence our future cities“) with Harvard professor Jo Guldi and Adam Greenfield of Urbanscale.

Afterwards we’ll be back in Berlin at least for a little while. If you’d like to meet up, get in touch!