Meet Franziska Krüger, Head of Germany at 23. A German native, who has lived in Austria, Australia, Taiwan and the Netherlands before deciding to help change the way we will look at websites in the not-so-far future.
Interviewed by Jeanette Gusko, PHD student and PR consultant.
Please tell us a little bit about where you’re coming from.
I originally graduated in business. Next to my studies I was part of a junior enterprise - a consulting company started and run by students. Everybody in my environment was very driven: most of my friends wanted to work in consulting or investment banking and everybody thought I also would go straight into a consulting company or work as a trainee in a corporation. Even I thought it at some point. Studying abroad gave me some distance to explore different academic disciplines, meet different people and ultimately think differently. When I came back to Austria the startup weekends organized by StartEurope kicked off. Some of the founders were friends of mine from our office in Vienna. Thanks to these guys I got more involved with the startup scene and met more people with an entrepreneurial spirit. Then I heard about Knowmads, a program for social innovation, business design and entrepreneurship. They seemed to answer a lot of questions that I had at this time. So I went to Amsterdam.
What is it that you want to achieve?
That is a big one. To a certain extent I am still exploring. There are no fixed 10 steps to final destination. The cover picture on my Facebook profile sums it up pretty well: “Life is an amazing journey to nowhere”. I know the direction I want to go. Knowmads helped me discover that it is not so much about what exactly I want to do, but rather how I want to do things. My biggest takeaway was to look actively for a different perspective. I learned to value real diversity and all the annoying parts that can come with it. Working with people from extremely diverse backgrounds challenged everything I had learned for years about how to work or how to approach a problem. But ultimately I value the different perspectives that diversity creates and the different insights you gain. In my work I try to consider the system as a whole and to put humans in the center of the process. I guess that’s also the reason for my fascination with design and the design process.
What are the common grounds of women in tech?
I used to be asking myself: Why do we need specific groups for women? Why do we need a female quota? I still have not made up my mind completely, but what I really like about Berlin Geekettes is that you create role models. We are role models for each other as well as the future generation of women coming after us. You meet people with similar backgrounds and support them. As much as I am looking for different perspective, it is very helpful to meet likeminded people and to know that you tackle similar challenges.
You just moved to Berlin to work for 23 as the Head of Germany. What’s your company’s story?
We help companies and organizations to build video centric websites. Video on the web isn’t about the single video or a single player. Video on the web is about using all the possibilities the web has to offer, about building an experience around your videos, people browsing multiple videos at the same time etc. With us you can build your own Youtube or a site like TED.com out of the box in pretty much 3 hours.
Can you see yourself doing the same thing in 10 years?
Even a job I love dearly, I would not want to stick to for a long time. Doing the same thing in 10 years would feel like stagnation and maybe also a little like reaching that final destination I do not believe in. I really hope to keep on exploring for a long time.
If you had not become involved in entrepreneurship what would you do?
I come from a very musical family. When I was born, I received a piano from my grandmother, who is a great piano player herself. I even specialized on music during high school but I also realized that pretty much everybody else there was more talented than me. So I started doing other stuff, became the Editor-in-Chief of our school newspaper and shortly after that student representative on state level. Both functions taught me a lot and probably were the first steps into the direction I’m following today. Also, even today I’m still engaged in education. I teach design thinking, mentor at startup events and am involved in a couple of other initiatives for example Mycelium. For me it is very much about empowering and inspiring people to find out what they want to do in their own lives, what it is that they are passionate about and what they want to bring into the world. This is the foundation of entrepreneurship for me.
Follow Franziska on Twitter @frantastique