Fabian Pfortmüller on How to Rethink Rules of the Startup Game

In Chapter 14 of 19 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller shares how his experience starting multiple businesses has compared and contrasted with his initial expectations.  He learns how his atypical career approach translates into creating a nontraditional startup.  Location independence, especially encouraging his Holstee and Sandbox teams to work abroad and take trips, becomes a centerpiece in creating company culture.  Pfortmüller is co-founder of Sandbox Network (www.sandbox-network.com).  He also co-founded an innovation think tank, Incubaker (www.incubaker.com), and is part of the group's first spin-off, Holstee (www.holstee.com), an apparel brand for people who would like to wear their passion.  Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its School of General Studies. 


Erik Michielsen: How is life as an entrepreneur different than you imagined it would be?

Fabian Pfortmüller: My feeling was that entrepreneurs have a lot of holidays [laughs] yeah for some reason I thought that, I thought being your own boss means you can take holidays whenever, turned out not to be true… but having said that you know I believe that it is possible to make that happen and I feel also we talked before about standard careers and doing the atypical way, it seems also a little bit as if there is the standard entrepreneur model, like working extremely hard and kind of not taking holidays and after five, six years you have your exit or not but it’s really crazy a lot.

I believe you can shape that and what we do at Holstee for example is be very dedicated to say that we want to you know spend maybe several months a year working from somewhere else and be very open to go and take breaks if that’s, if that’s what it is for us, we say if you don’t feel like coming to the office, don’t come, either don’t work or kind of work from a café or somewhere else because in the end we didn’t become entrepreneurs to kind of end up in the same situation where someone else will kind of tell us what to do and the same thing goes for Sandbox that we – our team has moved for two weeks in Berlin, work two weeks in Berlin, now they were two weeks in London and really moving a little bit around, that is possible… but it’s not maybe how I originally imagined it to be.