Bastian Unterberg on jovoto’s journey & his advice for founders

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jovoto is participating in Startupnight – THE event showcasing the Berlin start-up scene. We took this opportunity to sit down with our Founder and CEO, Bastian Unterberg, to explore jovoto’s journey over the last eight years. Read on for unique insights and his advice for founders and entrepreneurs. Twitter


Please introduce yourself and share a little about your background!

I’m Bastian Unterberg, founder and CEO of jovoto, a crowdstorming platform that helps global brands and NGOs solve their design and innovation challenges with a growing community of creative professionals from around the world.

I studied both computer science (University of Siegen) and design (University of Arts in Berlin) and founded my first company at 16. Alongside running jovoto, I am an advisor for both startups and top managers working for large organizations facing digital transformation. In 2013, Wiley published my first book, “Crowdstorm: The Future of Innovation, Ideas and Problem Solving”. I am a young father of two and if I find the time, I like to travel and explore.

How did you get the idea to launch jovoto?

Back in 2007 and about to graduate from design, I asked myself the question: “How do I want to work (in the future)?” I was struggling with the reality that many of my friends who had already left university, had started uninspiring jobs for traditional agencies and linear organizations that left them boxed in and burnt out – their freedom and talent undermined. It became clear to me that there weren’t many options out there that didn’t lead me down the same path.

“Our society is looking at massive change on many levels. Wherever paradigm shifts occur, interesting opportunities await.” Twitter

Why did you decide to start a business?

When the idea of jovoto came up I realized that our society is looking at massive change on many levels. Wherever paradigm shifts occur, interesting opportunities await. I knew that the way we work and the way future generations of talent will be motivated will fundamentally differ – a great environment to start a business.

What was the biggest challenge in starting jovoto?

At the time we started there was literally no market. Bridging years and surviving until the model took off was a tough experience. In retrospective I am happy that we did not take any VC funding and relied heavily on bootstrapping.

Without a highly committed team sharing a vision about the future of work, a few highly dedicated angel investors, and early bird clients, we wouldn’t have survived. Going the distance during these times makes every success so much sweeter these days.  

Bastian Unterberg -Advice for Founders

Advice for founders: Hold weekly catch ups. Here jovoto’s Monday morning meeting.

How has jovoto developed since it was founded?

We started out with a few hundred designers, many from my own personal network. Because of a host of really cool challenges we’ve hosted (over 400 to-date!), our community has grown to over 80 000 creative professionals.

Today, jovoto represents a new way of working, for a new generation of creative talent, who have a fundamentally different understanding of work, life, and consumption. They can choose which projects they want to work on,  when they want to work, and with whom they want to team up with  – a perfect fit for how they want to work. We also make sure we provide enough opportunities to grow; they receive feedback on their work from other community members, jovoto’s creative guides, and the client. By developing their skills and learning with others, new opportunities are unlocked.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I might be surf-travelling with my family somewhere in Indonesia while I make a solid living as creative on jovoto. Not entirely unlikely, but rather a joke.

The way the next generation of talent wants to work is fundamentally changing. At the same time many organizations are challenged by the speed and pace of innovation outside their own organization. Today’s organizational design will not survive the next five years.

These two bold trends will result in massive growth for jovoto. Today only a small share of all jovoto users consider jovoto their primary source of income. This will change. In five years we will see more than 10 000 top-talents who understand jovoto as the utopian workplace of choice that became a reality.  

“Organizations are challenged by the speed and pace of innovation outside their own organization. Today’s organizational design will not survive the next five years.” Twitter

What 3 tips would you give as advice for founders?

  1. My top advice for founders: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile and have fun.
  2. Turn off your tech devices more often and take the time to meet (in person) and listen to the customer/user.
  3. Get to know yourself! What drives you, what really motivates you deep down, why are you considering to start your own business, which of your weaknesses could a co-founder/ team member cover, etc.

If you’re in Berlin, drop by our booth at Startupnight in the Deutsche Bank Atrium this Saturday, September 3rd, between 5pm – midnight! Or learn more about Bastian here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liz von Loewen

Liz grew up drinking maple syrup by the gallon and frolicking in wheat fields in her native Canada. In 2015, Liz moved to her 7th city in 5 countries in 6 years, settling in Berlin to join jovoto as Head of Marketing & PR.

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