Tell us about yourself?
I studied architecture at the ETH in Zurich- a wonderful and creative time. After that I openend immediately together with my best friend a company to supply services to architects.
Our company started to grow very quickly, wow we had then 15 people. It appeared to be a challenging job with many innovations.
After 10 years I found out that I didn’t like to manage people. I am not a team player, and I need much more freedom. Then I started my gallery by selling rare masterpieces of design furniture.
Now I did a thing I really liked. My clients were much nicer, I had less stress with dead-lines and it was a pleasure to start something new with a completely different perception. I had from the old company experience and I was free, what was essential for me.
I sell globally for a very specific niche of some very privileged VIPs. Since all works by email, I never had meetings or things which I didn’t like. I still learn a lot and it’s a joy to do a job good. Additionally, the job fits to me.
It gives me the freedom to travel around 4 months per year, it allows me to be me and not being a “service supplier”. People who come to me work with me as person and not with a “product”.
I ask about kids and family, always very personal, so I guess I am more a consultant than a seller.
I guess that is not an ideal for most companies. It’s not about growing, it’s about being as good as I can.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
At my time the expression startup was not present for me. Today people have an idea of wanting to be smart, innovative and having success as fast as possible.
Then you can go to a party and tell everybody you have started a startup. Even my first company was in a completely new innovation field, I am old school. I don’t believe in this “be at the right moment, on the right place with the right idea” mentality and succeed.
It may bring this success, the highest good in a strongly capitalist society, but I want quality (a long term concept). When I meet this startup people I see in most cases bullshitter, they think they have to impress to be able to win.
Maybe that is important at the beginning. My suggestion is to understand that it’s more interesting to act as a personality with character and not as “product who tries to sell always”. Entrepreneur think that success makes them interesting, no it’s the character.
And you will need character at the moment when you have your first crisis. That allows you personally to grow on your job.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
As soon as I fail I will then question what should I have done differently. Right now all works fine, so I’m glad with all my “wrong decions”, so there is no need for a tip (still). I guess in private life there would be plenty of tips.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Luck, a specific naivety, curiosity, passion, intelligence, and always a bit of fear so I don’t fall asleep.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I have many bad habits: always working, working most of the time in bed, not working always efficiently, not picking phone ….. This habit is a long-term quality habit: make just cooperations with people you really like and respect.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
We sell art and design. As architect with an artistic approach I a strongly influence of non-conformism. Art is very connected to the idea of authenticity. I am not happy with that sleak reality and nor with that dumb consumerism.
I am not happy with the side-effects of the capitalism. I guess this idea of being opposition influenced me very much. Since there is no difference between me and my company, we are always looking for rebellion.
Where do you see your business in five years?
The company is in a permanent transformation, so normally I even don’t know where I will be in one year. Right now we are opening an art foundation in Oman and I do unusual and exentric houses in Muscat an Marrakesh.
The connection to the Islamic culture is something very new and joyful for me. Since irrational decision are a part of my company I hope that the P! GALERIE will still exist.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
I am not a team-player, working just with few employes I trust. That is a limitation to reach the goals.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
A client who has got now a close friend of mine. We are having a wonderful daily exchange about art, architecture and society.
Now I design his house in Muscat, we plan a wonderful exhibition at the National Museum, I plan an art foundation and that friendship is enriching me very much.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
I am more a consultant than a seller. So they trust me, when they see that it’s not my goal to sell. In my business it’s easy to have a good relationship.
I offer items of beauty so my clients are exited just because of that. In my business it’s all about trust.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
I understand you have to succeed (financially). Most people get exited about success (money), so at the end they even don’t care what they do.
I see sometimes this Japanese masters, who go into the depth, where they have a specific dignity for the job, giving them a deep satisfaction. That’s a long-term approach and will help in moments when you have some crisis.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
let’s hope for health. May the future be kind with me and offering me many things to do I like. Thank you