Moritz Tittler, CEO and Co-Founder of Visit4me, is a young entrepreneur from Berlin. At the age of 20, he founded the IT start-up Visit4me together with his friend and colleague Chistoph Thomas Abs (19), with the idea to automate tedious manual follow-ups of analog lead sheets and trade fair conversations.
Before taking the leap to found their own business, they joined a trainee program at neXenio, a German tech start-up, where they became friends. Now Moritz is studying entrepreneurship at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, while Christoph is still finishing his German highschool diploma. Both have been working on their start-up for almost two years.
Where did the idea for Visit4me come from?
When I started my career at an IT-Startup in Berlin three years ago, we were a two-man team in the Sales and Marketing department. It was just my boss and mentor and me as the trainee. Therefore, there were always plenty of tasks from the most diverse business areas.
During this time we visited trade fairs throughout Germany and Europe on a monthly basis to promote our IT solutions. Trade fairs were an overwhelming experience for me, coming straight out of a German highschool. I had exciting and meaningful conversations with experienced business people from various industries at a high frequency.
However, when we returned to the office, after two or three days of trade fair activities, the whole situation suddenly looked different. There were hundreds of analog lead sheets which had to be digitized and “hot” leads that wanted to be contacted and informed.
Since the daily business continued during and after the trade fairs, I had the responsibility to manually transfer the leads, enter relevant customer information into our CRM solution, research their social media profiles and send out requested information. Sometimes it took weeks and as you can imagine it was one of the least exciting tasks.
Because we couldn´t find a suitable solution for our requirements, Christoph and I started to develop a solution during our spare time that would automate these tasks for neXenio. We did it just for fun, but ultimately, I was hoping it would save me a ton of valuable time.
Even though our solution wasn’t anywhere near perfect, we decided to use our solution during one of the trade fairs. The initial feedback from visitors and customers was just overwhelming! Therefore, we decided to jump on the ship and build our own startup from our just for fun solution.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
During the founding phase of our start-up, I turned from a late riser to an early bird, little by little.
My day always starts at 6:00 am with testing our software solution and a foamy Latte Macchiato. Does everything really work as it is supposed to? Did a small error creep in overnight? Were browser versions or operating systems changed? Is our server still alive? Those are some of the questions I deal with every morning. Welcome to the magic world of IT!
Afterwards, each day is planned. What do we want to achieve? Which tasks have been left behind this week? What has to be finished soon?
We use a variety of different types of Canvas and Kanban boards to keep track of everything.
As a two-men founder duo we distributed our tasks well. Christoph takes care of the development and maintenance of our software as well as most of our finances, while I take care of all commercial, marketing and design-related issues.
Every day brings new tasks and challenges that need to be clarified, especially in the first year of the foundation. In many cases that means spending hours, days or even weeks researching the tasks and responsibilities before we can even think about starting.
Since we were able to find a motivated team, the daily structure has changed a bit. All tasks are now visualized for the team and discussed in a daily “Check-In Call” in the morning.
I spend most of the day in team meetings, customer meetings or deal with legal topics.
In the evening we finish the day together as a team with our „Check-Out Call“ and discuss what we‘ve accomplished, what the mood is like and where we will be heading in the next few weeks.
Both, the Check-In and Check-Out calls, are very powerful tools to align our team to get the most of ourselves. It forces us to reflect on ourselves every single evening to compare the morning demands with the evening reality and to ultimately learn from it.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Step by step. And never alone!
The development of our first minimum viable product took us about 6 months. At the point where we really got it running, we already had collected enough feedback from our partners and early adopters to redesign our existing concept once again.
The difficult thing is not to develop the idea itself, but to identify the essential points during the development process and to concentrate on them.
We built a total of 3 MVPs before we could proudly say, that we have found the right approach to meet our customers’ needs. However, to say we are “finished” would be a lie.
That’s when we also realized that a product will never really be finished. It’s in a constant state of development and has to adapt to changes in the market, users, and the technical environment around us every week.
Finding this realization took us time, but it made my life as a startup founder much easier because it helped me to get rid of the “guilty conscience” about selling an unfinished product.
What’s one trend that excites you?
For sure Design Thinking and agile development processes.
As a Hasso-Plattner-Institute (HPI) spin-off we were introduced to the concept of Design Thinking early on.
It helped us a lot to see the idea generation and development process not as a linear process but as a flexible model.
For too long we avoided involving our early adopters in all evaluations of ideas and new features.
As soon as the planning is no longer based on your ideas and assumptions, but instead centers around the user, the path to a suitable solution is dramatically trickier.
I have to say quite clearly, Agile, Scrum, Lean Model, and also Design Thinking should be understood rather as a toolbox than the holy grail for “agile success”.
Every company and every team should find the right methodologies and adapt them to their working reality.
The 5 phases of the Design Thinking process can be found in all areas of our product development.
Emphasize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Maybe it’s obsession. As founders, it was never our primary goal to make money with our solution but to bring real added value to companies that find themselves in similar situations we were back then. We wanted to make the lives of working students, interns, and salespeople easier.
We have always been proud to show what we have come up with and implemented. Every conversation and every pitch has provided us with essential insights and further motivated us to continue working on the project.
Most important habit? Pitch, pitch, pitch! Be proud of what you build, but never think you are the smartest person in the room.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When we started the internal project we assumed that a B2B product would never be positively received on the market by two young founders because of our age. We thought there would be a lack of trust.
And that is simply wrong! Especially in IT your age hardly plays an important role anymore. Your motivation and experience in the field is much more important. In the two years of our startup I haven’t had a single conversation in which my counterpart had no interest in us, because we were too young and therefore obviously not experienced enough.
On the contrary, we had countless managers with 30 – 40 years more experience, who listened to us with a spark in their eyes, who were enthusiastic about the team, the product, and the motivation behind it.
Dear 18-year-old Moritz: Don’t even think about putting off the company foundation for 5 years because you are too young! Go out there and talk to those who have experience and learn from them. They are almost all willing to help you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Talk to your ideal users as early as possible, preferably before the first working MVP. Many entrepreneurs are initially afraid to show their product or idea because others might steal it.
If you start talking to people early on, you’ll learn an incredible amount of insights and can bring your product to a whole new level before or during the development process.
Also, a good contact database of potentially interested parties will help you once you have a working product. You already know the people and companies that want to test it and have already given feedback based on their requirements.
Go public with your idea and concept as early as possible and stick with it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Like I said, pitch pitch pitch. The most important thing to do during the foundation.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
In a nutshell: find a partner. For every problem that a company solves there are involved companies that cannot offer a solution but have enough own customers and partners who have this problem.
Talk to exactly these companies and negotiate fair conditions for a partnership.
Working alone on a company is difficult, with a team much more pleasant – if you find partners who support you out of self-interest, that brings you to a whole new level.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We went public way too late and kept telling ourselves “in the coming version we’ll go live and launch our product”. We did that over and over again. That was definitely a failure.
In any case, we could and should have expanded our community of early adopters a year earlier to get faster feedback and to build a suitable network more rapidly.
How did we solve this issue? Finally, after 1.5 years of development, we turned to users outside of our network with version 3.01. A lot of potential fell by the wayside. That mistake cost us a lot of time that we won’t get back.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
For all those coffee lovers who don’t have the time or just don’t want to take the time to brew themselves a terrific cup of coffee: a subscription service that delivers compostable coffee capsules based on your taste, machine, and frequency of consumption directly to your door.
So far it’s just a thought game without much research, but as a coffee lover myself I would be on board immediately. However, the environmental friendliness of my capsules and the variety of drinks would be increasingly important to me.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best 100€ (welcome to the EU) of the last months were definitely team events we organized together.
For a company, the benefits of regular team events are not obvious at first glance, but it is precisely these quality hours that make friends out of a team of colleagues and massively increase productivity.
Regular bar evenings, game evenings, paintball or simply cooking together in the evening costs us little but has a huge impact on the motivation and balance of the team.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
As a team that works mainly remotely together, we are dependent on a good solution for communication.
We’ve tried a lot of tools from Skype to an internal chat but all of them don’t quite manage to create a suitable space that allows us to effectively work together, discuss ideas and drive our start-up.
The solution we trust is called neXboard, a digital whiteboard with an integrated video or audio conference. Here we can easily work together on the browser and quickly bring appropriate experts into our sessions.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
To be honest, I am not a big book fanatic and I hardly read (analog) books.
I have found that regular independent learning is the basic requirement for me to grow and to be satisfied with myself. Therefore I complete an online course twice a week on one of the many learning platforms on a suitable topic.
A topic that founders should look into: Your co-founder’s expert area.
In my case it was computer science even if I have neither a great interest to actively code or possessed in-depth knowledge beforehand. It is essential to understand your co-founder! Because of that, I have a better understanding of computer science now. That includes the processes and vocabulary. There is much less friction and misunderstanding between us.
If you are looking for good books/articles/online courses to find advice during the foundation: Ask your co-founders what a beginner-friendly start would be to help them better understand their subject area.
What is your favorite quote?
“A product is convincing when it provides a bridge to the future for the user and not when it requires a giant jump.”
- Stick to your goals. It will take time to achieve them, but it is always worth the effort.
- Don’t tell yourself that you are too young or inexperienced. Every skill can be learned with enough time and motivation.
- Find the right team if you want to launch your own startup. It will only work out then!