JobTalk: The entrepreneur series

‘Give it a try’ says data company founder

'Give it a try' says data company founder
Datapine founder Martin Blumenau.
In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind his successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed him forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Martin Blumenau of Datapine, a young innovative company located in the heart of Berlin.

Datapine gives small and medium business owners the tools they need to take advantage of the data they collect. It allows non-technical users to explore, visualize and share data with their company or users, without needing any technical knowledge. 

How did you come up with this business idea?

The idea behind Datapine came up when my co-founder Jakob Rehermann and I experienced a problem in the company we worked in. While Jakob was mostly responsible for the business side of KPI reporting, I was responsible for the product but at the end of the day, we had one problem in common: we both needed to make a lot of data-driven decisions. As we aren’t developers, it was really hard, if not impossible, for us to get access to the  data that mattered – without involving our IT department, who were pretty busy themselves. 

We decided to solve this problem on our own by building a business intelligence and data visualization tool. We wanted to make sure it was affordable and that SMEs could use it even if they didn’t have tech savvy people. For this reason, our tool is easy and intuitive and it allows you to see and understand your data.

It's accessible, intuitive and affordable – so you can take decisions like a business giant.

What were the initial challenges? How did you overcome them?

When we started in 2012, founding a real tech start-up in Germany was not as popular as it is today. A lot of people asked us if Germany was the right place for building Datapine, whether going to Silicon Valley might be a better option.

In the beginning, we had to build a lot of trust with regards to the idea, the risk and the  passion, why and how we will make things happen. However, in my opinion, the most challenging part took place after raising our first round. Building the right team around the idea of Datapine wasn’t an easy task.

We really want our staff to love what they’re doing here. You can have the best idea or have a lot of cash in the bank but if you don’t have people contributing 100 percent to the start-up and its path to success, each day, you won’t succeed. We took quite some time to find the right talent and to build a great Datapine family. It’s a must if you want to beat your competitors out in the market.

How has the journey been so far?

Our journey so far has been incredibly fun and challenging, at the same time. It obviously had its ups and downs. After starting up in 2012-end, we launched our public beta phase in April 2013. We all pushed really hard and found out that there is a significant gap between having an idea, building a prototype and offering a product that actually brings value to customers. 

Already in Q1 2014, we launched the final product and since then experienced a real good market feedback. We have grown to three-digit users already. Also, having customers in more than 20 countries, including Fortune-500 companies makes us really happy. This motivates us on a daily basis to keep moving faster and pushing harder.

How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?

Being an entrepreneur, you have to quickly adapt to very fast changing situations, sometimes making decisions on the fly, and be responsible to drive the company and the team into the right direction. You have to welcome shifting trends and you have to position yourself to stay on top of all the changes, if you want to remain ahead of your competition. I guess the biggest change I can see, is that I have become generally comfortable with discomfort. You will find very insecure situations to be normal in your private as well as your business life.

Any other personal reflections and/or message to budding entrepreneurs?

The main recommendation I can give is: as long as you have a clear vision and a good value proposition, give it a try. Build a prototype, see if you can hit a market need and then focus on building a great team around your idea. 

Sparsh Sharma works as a freelance journalist for The Local and blogs about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

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