EBS Alumnus Alexander Knieps, Founder and CEO of Printulu
What has been the biggest challenge in your entrepreneurial career so far?
After the pledge of a 1 million US Dollar investment, I flew to South Africa, founded the company and set up the company and website with all my savings. Unfortunately, the investment contracts were so disadvantageous that I could not sign them with the investors and had to bootstrap the company. This was probably the most difficult time of my life as it was neither planned nor budgeted.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Look for strategic partnerships, especially at the beginning - the value of this for the company is often many times greater than a purely financial investment. You should always be on the lookout for new solutions and should not give up even in difficult times!
Which mistake would you have liked to avoid?
I made some mistakes when hiring employees. The important thing at the beginning is to document and communicate the core values in the company and then to hire and pay them accordingly. I did this too late.
What brought you to EBS Universität back then?
In particular the practical relevance, the international orientation and the extra-curricular activities were decisive criteria for me. These factors show that the university develops personalities rather than just imparting knowledge.
To what extent did your studies at EBS Universität provide you with added value for your work?
The approach of EBS Universität is that of a very tight curriculum, intensive examination phases and extra-curricular activities to test the limits of students. This is exactly what is expected of you in your job and especially as an entrepreneur.
Your best memory of EBS Universität?
The flat share in Schillerstraße with my colleagues Dominik Bong and Armin Burckhardt.
What does the alumni network offer you?
The mentoring programme with EBS alumni helped me a lot. One of these alumni, or rather mentors, is meanwhile an investor in Printulu. Apart from that, the EBS alumni network is very strong, especially in German-speaking countries, and therefore not so relevant for me at present.
Do you have a (daily) routine you always keep to?
I get up very early every morning…
- to meditate for 10 minutes
- to run 5 - 10 km
- to read for half an hour (to learn something new)
- and to prioritise the day’s tasks (one to three things that need to be done).
Who is your big role model?
My father, because he built his own company without a university degree, just with hard work in the post-war period.
What are your goals for 2019?
With Printulu I would like…
- to become the true mass customisation platform in 2019. This means that we want to work with various producers in at least three product categories.
- and to spread internationalisation into another African country.
30 Under 30 // Africa 2018: Business
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