What is your name, age, location?
My name is Anna Kress, I'm 35 years old, and I live in Berlin, Germany.
What's your background?
I studied Computer Science, and after graduation I worked as a researcher for Fraunhofer Germany and Fraunhofer Portugal, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization. My working areas were Mobile and Web applications, later with a focus on ICT for socio-economic development in developing countries. I was always more interested in applying ICT in a social context than in technology for the sake of technology.
In 2012, I discovered the social entrepreneurship movement in Berlin, which has gained quite a momentum in the last years. Fairnopoly was one of the mentee projects in the Social Impact Lab, an incubator for social enterprises, and that's how we met. Since December 2012, I have joined as a Co-founder and the CTO. It was my second attempt to found a company, the first one didn't work out. At the end I'm quite happy with this failed attempt because it opened up other opportunities of which Fairnopoly is the latest and the greatest one.
What inspired you to become a founder?
The inspiration came mainly from the wish to create a working environment that I could identify with, where I could apply and grow my skills, and last but not least where I could contribute in some way to what I think should change in the world and make it a better place.
Please walk me through your day, what do you do at Fairnopoly?
Fairnopoly is an online marketplace where both commercial and private sellers can list any kind of new or used products. What makes us different is our philosophy. We want to put social values first. Fairnopoly is organized as a co-operative which we consider to be a more controllable and transparent company form. We promote Fair Trade, sustainable and organic products. And we donate to Transparency International to contribute to the fight against corruption.
As one of the three managers of Fairnopoly, I take care of the strategical planning with a focus on IT and take care of all kinds of daily issues like hiring of technical staff or partner contracts. I oversee the product development, that is, the marketplace software. I do not program anymore, but I coordinate with the rest of the team and our users regarding feature requests, specify and prioritize them, and oversee the implementation with our great tech crew. My favorite aspect of the job at the moment is UI/UX design.
Can you see yourself in ten years doing the same thing you do now?
Yes and no. Of course I hope that Fairnopoly will be a successful company, and I will play my role in that. But I have tried out different directions during my professional career, and I hope my curiousity will lead me to some new challenges, also regarding the fact that the IT sector is changing very fast. But maybe I will also decide at some point to leave IT and do something completely different.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I think what influences me most is not one single piece of advice, but more certain people which I admire, for example outstanding influential women like Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt or Susan Sontag. I also had the chance to meet and work with some incredible women from Afghanistan through the Women's Annex Foundation, who are all successful IT entrepreneurs in their home countries.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last year?
I guess it was more optimism and a bit more relaxed way towards risk taking and failure. Without this, we cannot build anything really new.
And what are your plans for the future?
At the moment, it is to make Fairnopoly an economically successful company. We also plan to expand to other countries.
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
I should have paid more attention to my personal well-being in the earlier days. It is important to allow oneself to take enough time off a project like Fairnopoly for recovery, in order to maintain sustainable motivation and energy.
Any advice for your local/global Geekettes?
Don't let yourself be restricted by people who say that your plans will not work out (or choose trusted advisors very carefully). Well, sometimes they will not work out, but I think that often we are way too pessimistic, which stops us from even trying in the first place.