Carsten and Natascha are alumni of the University of Applied Sciences Europe (formerly BiTS) at Campus Iserlohn and they have made their first steps on their own and founded the website wg-suche.de. You will learn in this interview how their studies have helped them and much more:
Definitely the semester abroad for both of us. Natascha studied in Cape Town, and I was in New York. Both were a great contrast to idyllic Iserlohn. The time was unbelievably instructive and informative with regard to development of our personalities. We benefit from those experiences even today.
We met at BiTS. We sat next to each other right from the first class, I think it was some class with Prof. Friske (we’d like to say hello to him!), and we clicked. In this way, BiTS laid the foundation stone for our later company for the simple reason that we met each other. It became clear already very early in our degrees that we would start something together later. It’s true that we didn’t have a concrete plan but our passion for later independence was developed during our studies. After a couple of years of career experiences in different companies, we started together. We learned many skills during our studies and also later in work and they help us even today. But we have also learned on our own too. However the idea of running your own business was something that was touched upon during our time at BiTS and that’s noteworthy. That has helped us very much to venture into this step as well.
Independence. We are our own bosses. Work when we want to. Can do and allow what we want when we want. As we have also worked as employees at businesses, we know how valuable independence is. In the meanwhile we have been working for 5 years on wg-suche.de and have managed to gain a well-known investor in ImmobilienScout24, who gives us the time to continue working on the site. We know to value and enjoy this trust every day.
Of course the incorporation. We were both then working at a well-known online dating portal in Hamburg and had secure and well-paid jobs. Natascha was product manager and I was social media manager. Quitting these jobs to found a website for shared apartments was of course a big risk but at that time we wanted to know and were curious whether our plan would work. This curiosity was of course nurtured in our studies and perhaps the most important thing that young students can pick up. Risk is often rewarded, and if not, there is always another way back, or a plan B.
We would like to continue to live our dream of self-sufficiency and remain independent. Our company and wg-suche.de will grow further, we will be expanding the concept of the site to Austria and Switzerland, and maybe in more countries. Clearly we will also be making a move towards exiting. Furthermore we are working on different projects at the same time and experimenting a lot. That helps us to develop new ideas to keep up to date. There are simply so many things going on in the digital world at the moment and we’d like to be there. In 10 years’ time we will be working on topics that we like. Whatever that may turn out to be.
Make early contacts with your classmates, and don’t just speak to those with whom you’re on the same wavelength, but also professionally and thematically. The combination of both is like winning the jackpot. Also, you should especially seek contact with people who can do something better than you can. BiTS students who are up for it should establish a topic early on and above all work on a possible business idea. Evaluate quickly what works, then implement it. Even while studying, keep your eyes wide open through life and recognize what is missing and where the demand is. What processes are outdated and where you can start with a new idea, online and offline. At least that method brought us success. At the same time, it is not about the next billion dollar idea or becoming a multimillionaire. With a good idea and a good team, everything will follow.
Practical, challenging, personal.