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Paul Jozefak
Hamburg, Germany
Slovak American building tech startups in Europe -- Used to be a VC
Recent Activity
No one really talks about this when discussing physical industry events. People don't go for the content. Here and there you may learn something in a session or you may get the chance to listen to someone live whom you admire or wanted to get access to. But this isn't the major draw of physical industry events. You go to be amongst people. You go to interact. It's walking the hallways and hanging out in the lobby that leads to the serendipity that has facilitated so many deals over the years. You attend to be seen and to show that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2020 at Babbling VC
I've had my eye on a Keychron keyboard after I saw a bunch of reviews on various tech sites over the past year or two. It seemed quite hyped and the original Kickstarter project blossomed out to a full blown company with a bunch of various keyboards on offer. I was forced to be patient as it took forever for them to bring out a German version. I contemplated getting the US layout but it's just too much hassle when regularly writing in German. Two weeks ago, they finally sent a notification mail that a German version of their V2... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2020 at Babbling VC
I enjoyed reading Ben's essay this morning about his thoughts regarding online conferences and how things in this regard pan out going forward. I have to admit that I've been thinking quite a lot about this. As someone who spends time on the road at events (more so earlier as a VC), I have been asking myself where do we go from here? Simply taking events online and doing everything via video just ain't happening. But for me, it is not about the events specifically. I am much more interested in changing things for the better having now been forced... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2020 at Babbling VC
Well, yesterday Twitter decided to let all their employees work from home indefinitely. They have something like 5000 employees so this made the news everywhere. It's definitely been on my mind as the CEO of a small company and it's hard to get away from with all the news regarding this out there. Nevertheless, it's far too early to tell whether this is going to be a sea change in the work environment. So let's all calm down. I can give two perspectives on this. These are things going through my mind. As someone who is currently working from home,... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2020 at Babbling VC
There's been so much written about hustle porn and one of the most outspoken people on Twitter is @dhh on Twitter. He is one of the founders of Basecamp and with his cofounder, has even written a book about it not having to be crazy at work. As much as I like to agree with him, the reality of the world we live in is often nuanced. As much as I'd like to fully agree that you can build highly successful businesses with a maximum 40 hour workweek, my day to day shows otherwise. I have been dwelling on this... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2020 at Babbling VC
Michael and I have been at this game quite a while at this point. Nevertheless, one thing I realized is that I often repeat myself to both people whom we are hiring or whom we are telling about what we do. We have a very specific type of person whom we like to hire. Further, both Michael and I have our very own styles of management (or in my case, lack of management) and we compliment one another greatly. It still remains though that it takes a special type of person to gel with us when it comes to a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2019 at Babbling VC
20 years....that's one way of saying it. You could also see it differently....about two weeks of work. We're finalizing our round at Receeve. It's been quick outside of the admin and we were able to raise more than we need. Therefore we asked some folks to wait for a further financing round. I don't want to jinx anything but I remain confident that we will have together a pre-seed round which sufficiently funds us to the next round and allows us to get a team, a product and initial POC's in place. But this isn't a post about fundraising and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2019 at Babbling VC
Somehow, during the span of my career, I've had multiple groundhog day type occurrences. I feel we are in the midst of one right now. My first occasion was the bubble bursting after the turn of the century. Then we had the 2008 financial crisis. Now, we have what I'll call the Trump crisis and unfortunately, there will be more before I am done as the cycles are accelerating. This isn't a post about economics or why such things happen and the economy turns. We may be in for a long phase of shitty market conditions. I haven't yet completely... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2018 at Babbling VC
I recently read a post about needing a "strenuous age" to start again. I highly recommend reading it if for no other reason than to see the parallels between the turn of the 20th century and now. It's scary how similar things seem and a bit worrisome what those parallels will lead to. Nevertheless, this article came at an interesting time for me. Having reflected a bit on what I've done in the past 43 years, I can attest to the fact that the next 40 plus years of my life won't be driven by meditation, drug use, and journaling.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2018 at Babbling VC
A lesson I learned far too late in my business career is that you have to also take instead of just giving. That may sound harsh but you would be wise to heed these words, especially if you are early in your career. Everyone is talking about "giving" nowadays and "paying it forward" but be very cautious about this. It sounds nice when preached but can be quite disadvantageous when practiced. Now don't get me wrong. I am all about giving. I spent the past twenty years happily helping people on their way without requesting anything in return. I have... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at Babbling VC
Bear with me as many generalisations are to follow. via GIPHY "Nobody reads Powerpoints anyway!" I heard this from a business acquaintance recently and was initially taken aback by that comment. The brunt of what I have done over the past twenty years in business has involved Powerpoints (or more recently Google sheets but you know what I mean.) We aren't getting away from them any time soon. Yet, after reflecting on this a bit, I have to admit that I believe that the comment is true. Don't misunderstand me. People will look at Powerpoints that you send them but... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2018 at Babbling VC
I've basically stopped using Facebook for anything more than as a channel to post content for people who are there and are interested in it. I hardly ever go to Facebook to consume content. I also long ago deleted the app from my phone as I simply saw it as a distraction. Nevertheless, I have to chuckle when I hear people talking about the death of Facebook soon. My peers often have a similar conversation around business lunches or whatnot. I chuckle when I hear this because my first inclination would be to agree. It does really seem like Facebook... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at Babbling VC
We're so misled by what we often read in blogs and press stories or see on TV shows. One way or another, we tend to react to drama and they who produce content feed on this. In reality, there is often very little drama or noise when things go terribly wrong. This is why people are so often surprised to see things fail....marriages, businesses, venture funds and so forth. I was reminded of this when recently discussing how things die or go wrong within a corporation or venture fund. It's rare that you hear about something failing terribly. There are... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2018 at Babbling VC
After having had a similar conversation a couple weeks ago with some Scandinavian VC's and now again yesterday with an old VC friend from Germany, I thought it was time to write something about it here. The title may be a bit misleading. This isn't about some new meme on Instagram. It's about the fact that if you look at the European landscape of startup founders and VC's, you tend to see some similarities....specifically a background of wealth. Important: note that this is not a critique. It is simply something I am seeing and is my view of things. This... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2018 at Babbling VC
You can make decisions in business and life in one of two ways. You are either all in and have no fallback plan. Or you have a Plan B in case your initial decision goes wrong. There are variances in between but let's forget those for now. I'll refer to these options as "all-in" or "multi-plan" for our purposes here. All-in is pretty easy to define. You make a decision and you commit to it. There is no going back and there is no second guessing what you've decided. You have "burned the ships" after arriving at new shores as... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at Babbling VC
I've used this space often to answer questions that I repeatedly hear. It's convenient to send people to my blog and simply say "read the post". I also tend to answer many questions here more thoroughly than I would when talking to someone at an event. Nevertheless, I have used this blog for more work-related topics. This post definitely hits far closer to home and involves what my wife is up to. Those of you who know me know that my son is already past two years of age. My wife and I couldn't have been happier when we found... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at Babbling VC
I'm not sure this is news to anyone who knows me well but I haven't really publicized it much. Contractually, today is my last day at the Otto Group. We parted on good terms, and there is no real juicy story to tell. We simply no longer saw eye to eye on strategy and how things were going to be run. After over six years, I decided it was time to move on. The typical story after you've used up a ton of political capital and new management comes in. What I did want to do with this post is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Babbling VC
A recent discussion with my wife triggered the idea to write this blog post. We were discussing careers and she was explaining to me how much she liked Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" and the concepts behind it. This led me to start thinking about so many questions we received regarding Liquid Labs, which Michael Backes and I founded back in early 2012. It dawned on my that we so often spoke of the "what" but hardly ever the "why". So why do we do it? Well, to put it briefly, because it allowed us to do what we wanted... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2018 at Babbling VC
A couple years ago I bought a house outside of Hamburg. This led to one major change in my life which wasn't the case for the past twenty or so years.....a long commute in the car. I drive in and out of town when in the office in Hamburg and it takes about 45 minutes each way. To keep it at this length I leave the house usually at 6am or earlier and try to get out of town early too to avoid the major traffic. What this has led to is my making use of the time in the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2018 at Babbling VC
It may seem like this is a typical year end post aiming to get people to set goals and resolutions for the New Year. It is not. It simply happens to be coming at a time when you will be seeing a ton of such posts. Yet, it may be just the right time for such a post since it addresses the exact same problem that most people making resolutions will face: not getting started. Procrastination and fear will keep you from doing that which you should be doing. You may end up finding other excuses but everything will eventually... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2017 at Babbling VC
There is a problem in most organisations that teams want to generally be in agreement when making decisions. I think this is a mistake. I was pleasantly surprised when recently reading a Jeff Bezos investor letter where he specifically alluded to this issue. He spoke of “disagree and commit” when it came to decision making at Amazon. This is a wonderful approach. (Please stop now and do go read Jeff's letter. It is that good!) Usually, what happens in companies is that folks get into a death match with one another knowing that they at the end of the day... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Babbling VC
So I’ve had this conversation a couple times in the past two or three days and felt that it merited a blog post. There are two times which come to mind today where you should always decide on something by being completely digital about it. Either you want to do it (“hell yeah”) or you don’t (“fuck no”)! The general concept comes from Derek Sivers and it brilliantly works in many situations. In today’s case it is in regards to hiring and picking jobs. When hiring you should be picking candidates based on “hell yeah or fuck no” and nothing... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2017 at Babbling VC
I'm always been a bit torn about marketing. I've been pretty adamant with startups in the past to not focus too much initially on marketing but asked them to be very aware of needing it down the road. 7 or 8 years ago there was a lot of back and forth on just how much marketing is necessary for startups and when. Brad Feld and Fred Wilson both wrote about it and started an interesting discourse (I just linked to a couple of their posts....Google if you want all of them). Fred kind of went on a tear against it... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Babbling VC
As I've had to answer this question so many times at this point, I thought I'd just save myself the time in the future and make a blogpost out of it. If you are going to apply to work for us at Liquid Labs, you have to speak German. No, it doesn't have to be perfect but it has to at least be conversational. No one expects you to sound local....I being the best example of sounding like Schwarzenegger, just in reverse. Yet you have to be able to sit in a meeting and speak with folks on the other... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2017 at Babbling VC
To understand this post you are going to have to first go and read Max's post as well as Mark's initial post. Go ahead....I'll wait. The response below to Max was simply too long as a comment on his Facebook post and I prefer to share it with everyone. Max, first things first: I am not trying to argue in one direction or the other but technically you are not investing in "dots" if you truly are doing extensive references. Let me clarify using the analogy I have for years: fundraising in the VC space is like dating. Mark too... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2016 at Babbling VC