What Founders Pitching Investors Can Learn From Eminem’s Rap Battles

Illustration by Ariane Frida Sofie

In the final rap battle of the movie 8 Mile, Eminem crushes his opponent by doing the opposite of what’s expected of him. He leaves his adversary speechless by employing a simple yet effective tactic. Remember what he did?

Start-up founders are an optimistic bunch. I certainly was when I ran my company before I transitioned to investing. So I understand when founders pitch me their company and focus on the “good stuff.”…


How Business Owners Must Cater To ‘Generation Mute’

Mobile messaging — the future operating system for business communication. Illustration: Ariane Frida Sofie

A nasty spider bit my friend Josh! Here in Bali, Indonesia, it happens more often than you’d think. Paradise has its price. But don’t worry! Josh sent a photo of the bite to his doctor over WhatsApp. Moments later, he learned the name of the right medicine. Another 30 minutes passed before the GoJek driver texted that he had left the creme at the doorstep: Josh 1, spider 0.

WhatsApp makes life easy in paradise. Want to rent a scooter? Just text and they’ll deliver. Enjoy Nasi Goreng? Reserve a table at your favorite restaurant by chat. Book a spot…


How to Stay Sane as a First-Time Founder When Things Go Wrong

Yoda. He’s always calm, clear, and powerful. I love Star Wars. Illustration by Feliks Eyser

Sunglasses

So, we had just closed our first round of funding when my key employee quits. I had sold the investors on that employee's skills, and everything was horrible. I felt like a faker, and our company would never work despite the funding! That night I slowly walked to the bus with my head down and spirit even lower. I felt numb and hurt. But we found a replacement within weeks, and nobody really cared.

Three years later, I am at this conference in Manila, and we go to a bar. Those Philipinos can drink, I tell you! I had just…


One of them is overlooked by most founders.

Let it grow. Illustration: Ariane Frida Sofie

Your role as an entrepreneur is one of an architect. You plan and design. You balance physics with art. You strive to create a beautiful building, but also one that’s sturdy and built to last. You ponder over function as much as over aesthetics. Your best tool is a sharp mind with good taste.

Your role as an entrepreneur is one of a builder. You carry weight. You put in the muscle. You hustle with brute force. You follow the plan and execute it. No building without the sweat. Work has to be done and someone’s got to do it…


Problems create entrepreneurial opportunities, and 2020 is not lacking in problems

An illustration of a unicorn emerging from fiery ashes in the shape of a phoenix.
An illustration of a unicorn emerging from fiery ashes in the shape of a phoenix.
The year 2020: Unicorns rising from the ashes. Illustration: Ariane Frida Sofie

I started my digital marketing company in 2009 against the backdrop of a global financial crisis. Most people thought a young university graduate — like I was at that time — should play it safe and wait for the business climate to get better before starting a company. I’ll never forget the middle-aged business owner who approached me at a trade show and suggested I was “very courageous” to start a company in “the crisis,” and wished me well as if I were taking a trip to some dangerous place from which I would never return.

My youthful ignorance turned…


Your job isn’t about finding the best option anymore — it’s about finding the option that is least bad

Illustration: Ariane Frida Sofie

Dear startup CEOs: It’s time to shift your mindset.

Last week might have been about growth and funky new initiatives. It could have been about hiring employees and closing that new financing round and launching that new product. Last week was about shiny things. Growth was your religion, and your North Star was closing deals and booking revenues. Amen.

But we woke up in a different world, a world where part of the population is shielded from normal social life (or will be soon) due to the spread of coronavirus. This new world calls for new rules. …


There’s a much better term you can use

Illustration: handmade with ❤ by Ariane Frida Sofie

In the early years of my company, we did not extend an employee’s one-year-long contract because their performance was okay, but not outstanding. Also, we were in the middle of a financing round and had to save on cash. It was a perfectly rational decision. However, since it was the first instance that we had let go of somebody under such circumstances, the rest of the team was confused. I had been calling our companies’ culture “family-like” many times before. That didn’t help at all in the situation.

“How could those monsters in management cold-heartedly fire a family member?” was…


There might be ways to keep them happy without breaking the bank.

Illustrations handmade with ❤ by Ariane Frida Sofie

Welcome to the beginning of the year. It’s a beautiful time when the snow is falling, new year’s resolutions are not yet broken dreams, and employees suddenly demand a steep salary increase in your chronically underfinanced start-up. You check your bank account with the usual anxiety and realize that this whole salary-increasing-thing would be a wonderful activity…in the very distant future. But you need that dear employee, and they surely know that. Neither messing with your staff’s motivation nor breaking the bank sound like the confetti party you hoped to start the new sun rotation with. …


Here’s what serial entrepreneurs change about their next business

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

The sun was setting and starting to melt into a creamy orange color over the beautiful fields of Mallorca’s nature. Our group of 15 entrepreneurs had gathered on the island to learn from each other. One of my core beliefs is that if you surround yourself with extraordinary people, good things happen, and you’ll learn a lot. That’s why I host Digital Founders Camps to share my own entrepreneurial experiences with the next generation as well as to learn from them.


How a little nudge from a book made one employee do the unthinkable

Image: Ariane Frida Sofie

When Tilman walked into my office, he was smiling from ear to ear. He was the head of web design at my digital marketing company, and by his smile, I could tell that something had happened.

Tilman is a designer through and through. He sports a big bushy beard around his boyish smile and his uniform is bright, colorful hoodies. He likes colors, playing games, and stimulating the development of his employees. In his team’s office, you would spot a pink stuffed unicorn next to a popcorn machine. Tilman is the easygoing, supportive, and understanding boss that his young employees…

Feliks Eyser

Tech founder & investor from 🇩🇪. Sharing experiences for first-time founders💡🛠🚀

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