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Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2016

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DISCUSSION “GLOBAL

DISCUSSION “GLOBAL GROWTH GENERATED IN BERLIN” Serial entrepreneur and Doodle CEO Michael Brecht talks to Berlin to go about the future of his company and Berlin’s status as a digital hub Some 28 million people currently use the online scheduling tool Doodle each month. In February 2015, the Swiss company set up its German subsidiary in Berlin. The company’s global expansion is now managed from its offices in the capital. Before joining Doodle, CEO Michael Brecht founded several companies in the field of digital business, so he knows what it takes to succeed. Here, he talks about his company’s growth initiative and choosing Berlin as a location. Doodle is a word used in English to describe the act of scribbling or drawing casually. It’s a catchy word in the same vein as Google. This is probably the reason why many people think Doodle is an American company from Silicon Valley. What’s the real story? Michael Brecht (MB): It’s true, very few people know we’re a Swiss company that was founded in 2008 in Zurich by two graduates of the ETH Zurich. In 2014, both founders sold their shares to Tamedia AG, which now drives Doodle’s global expansion as its parent company. You’ve worked in the field of digital media for over 20 years, and in that time you lived in Australia and Asia. What brought you to Doodle? MB: I took over the reins as CEO of Doodle in 2014. As far as I’m concerned, Doodle has everything a company needs to foster digital evolution, especially as part of Tamedia AG, the largest media house in Switzerland, but also as an innovative company that has grown into the world’s most popular online tool for scheduling. What made you choose Berlin as the site of Doodle’s German subsidiary? MB: We always knew we were going to need a second location in Europe for our international expansion. I lobbied very strongly for Berlin because I had lived here after the Wall came down and literally fell in love with the city. Plus, as a major digital hub, Berlin offers us ideal opportunities for our growth initiative. What mission did you bring with you to the German capital? MB: We’re working with our own team of on-site developers to further enhance the Doodle mobile app for iOS and Android. We used to work with external developers, but in the past roughly two years, we’ve seen a very strong shift to mobile. In other words, it was essential that we use our own experts to navigate the mobile shift. And, of course, Berlin is the perfect place to do just that. How so? MB: Berlin has the right people with the right knowhow. Plus the city has a thriving networking culture. For example, we were able to find an external agency here to handle our search engine optimization, and we work very Paper calendars were yesterday; today’s schedules are managed via smartphone. All Photos: Doodle 14 BERLIN TO GO

DISCUSSION ourselves strategically in less strong markets and to make Doodle better well-known. However, the same also applies to fast-growing markets, such as Brazil. We’re increasing our presence there especially in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics. And we’re managing this global strategy and our entire global growth from here in Berlin. Doodle makes it easy to coordinate schedules with others. closely and successfully with them. We are now live in 21 languages, which makes it all the more important that we receive effective support from our external partners on site. It works very well, and we are delighted to contribute to Berlin’s status as a digital hub! Not only have we established viable partnerships, we also get asked by startups to install Doodle for them. Of course, we’re always very happy to do so. You have a passion for startups. In fact, you’ve founded several successful companies, including urbia.com and 52weine. How do you support young founders? MB: In two ways. On the one hand, I function as an advisor in the growth phase. On the other hand, by focusing on productivity in line with the motto: We help you to work smarter – not harder! I recently published a book of interviews on the subject of productivity (Editors note: The Productivity Book. 30 Professionals Talk about their Time Management), and I also give lectures and keynote speeches on the subject of business productivity, among others. Of course, Doodle is a great instrument to achieve just that. Speaking of growth: What are your goals with regard to the expansion of Doodle? MB: In addition to being the site of our development, Berlin is also the place where we’re expanding our marketing and support divisions. Until now, our client support had been in German and English, but we’re growing tremendously in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets. That’s why we’re working at the moment on expanding our support team in these languages. Berlin is an excellent choice in this respect because the city attracts professionals from all over the world. And these are exactly the people we need. What goals have you set for Doodle? MB: As things stand today, 28 million people worldwide use our tool every month to coordinate their schedules. What’s keeping us from bumping that number up to 200 million? In other words, our task is to showcase Doodle’s productivity advantages worldwide. In the past, we underwent a viral and massive growth. More recently, we’ve begun to position What is your personal vision for Doodle? MB: I would like to see Doodle establish itself as the worldwide standard for time management and schedule coordination. Our key advantage is that we function independently of manufacturers. In other words, we can export the scheduling results of our users to all kinds of external calendar systems without being tied to a specific technical platform. You mentioned earlier that you fell in love with Berlin after the Wall came down. What is it like for you today coming back to the city after so many years abroad? MB: I lived in Australia for six years, and my family and I feel at home in five different countries. It was a tremendous joy to come back to Berlin. I got to know the city right as the Wall came down, so it was a very exciting time! Berlin was so colorful, so wild, so different. Of course, today, 25 years later, the city has changed tremendously. Doodle CEO Michael Brecht: Spearheading his company’s global expansion from Berlin. What kind of impression does Berlin make on you today? MB: It’s hard to say. Berlin is still very spontaneous. I love the way the city is still so unpolished, unlike many other cities. It reminds me of the creativity one feels in New York, a city that’s also very close to my heart. Berlin used to be brimming with an exuberant force. Today, this feeling can still be found, but only in those areas that have stayed true to the original creative spirit of the post-Wall era. And yet, despite all the changes, the city’s unique character still shines through. Berlin was and still is spontaneous, creative and unpretentious. I missed that spirit, so I’m very happy to be back in Berlin with Doodle! Thank you very much for the interview! Interview by Ines Hein BERLIN TO GO 15

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