Key Visual - Alumni

Marco Feelisch

Forbes 30 Under 30 // Europe 2019: Social Entrepreneurs

EBS Alumni Marco Feelisch founded Buckle and Seam in 2016, together with Jena Bautmans and Georg Wolff. Handmade, high-quality leather bags from Pakistan, which not only convince by their design and their fair price but above all by the concept behind them: The founder’s design each bag themselves, are in direct contact with the manufacturers and regularly travel to Pakistan to personally assess and control working conditions. In addition, with every bag he buys, the customer supports the education of a little girl in Pakistan and provides her with hygienic conditions.

Portrait of EBS Alumnus Marco Feelisch and the other Co-Founders of Buckle and Seam

EBS Alumni Marco Feelisch (centre), Co-Founder and CEO of Buckle & Seam, with Jena Bautmans (left) and Georg Wolff (right).

What has been the biggest challenge in your entrepreneurial career so far?

The biggest challenge in my entrepreneurial career was clearly managing expectations. On the one hand, there are my own expectations - of me as a person and of my company. On the other hand, there are the expectations of my employees in Pakistan and Germany, which we naturally want to meet.

Also, ethics are at the forefront in our company. It is and will remain difficult to weigh up ethical and business issues and assess their importance in the future. Here it helps me to keep the Code of Conduct of EBS Universität in mind. At EBS Universität, in addition to our practical, scientifically sound and internationally oriented education, we learned to take on social responsibility.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Founders should constantly ask for feedback, but also take a critical look at it. In addition to feedback from friends, I regularly ask partners and people I have no personal relationship with. You must listen to people and customers to understand what you need to improve and what you need to build on. And entrepreneurs should take time to reflect. What went well in the past? What went badly? What’s my present target? The start-up world is very hectic and in a constant state of fluctuation, and you can get carried away by this. However, a business can only grow as big as the managing director himself.

Which mistake would you have liked to avoid?

At the beginning, I expected my company to grow as quickly as possible. I did not value our successes enough. As a start-up, however, one should not only have the financial side in mind.

What brought you to EBS Universität back then?

I wanted to go to a top university that was geared to internationality. I was completely convinced by the ethics concept of EBS Universität. The many inspiring personalities on campus, whether professors and lecturers, fellow students or alumni, were also a highlight.

To what extent did your studies at EBS Universität provide you with added value for your work?

The teaching at EBS Universität formed the basis on which I work. In the extra-curricular activities - I co-organised the EBSpreneurship Forum during my studies - you learn for life. The size of the university also means that you are very close to your fellow students. I made lasting friendships. In addition, the university has a broad network of first-class companies that all students can and should use.

Your best memory of EBS Universität?

The Rheingau region offers many possibilities and is scenically very beautiful. Sitting with friends on the banks of the Rhine in summer - that’s something I like looking back on.

What does the alumni network offer you?

The alumni of EBS Universität are very well connected. Starting during your studies, you get to know many alumni who have all gone their own way - founded their own company, gone abroad or work in a top company. Now I am always thrilled by the numerous events that take place all over the world, hosting inspiring speakers. I’m happy to meet my fellow students regularly - and I have already had one or two meetings with investors at these events.

Do you have a (daily) routine you always keep to?

I always cycle the 20 minutes to my office, every morning and no matter what the weather’s like. That helps me to clear my head. I also try to be the first one in the office. This gives me time to answer my e-mails and start the day well sorted.

Who is your big role model?

At the EBSpreneurship Forum I was privileged to meet the Indian businessman Suhas Gopinath. He founded his own company at the age of 13. Later I did an internship in his company.

What are your goals for 2019?

In 2019 I would like to establish an independent management in our company. More importantly: we are committed to donating 3% of our sales per bag sold to Anum School in Pakistan. Currently, we are using this sum to support 120 female pupils, we want to increase this to 150.

Read more:
30 Under 30 // Europe 2019: Social Entrepreneurs

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