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Paul Jozefak
Hamburg, Germany
Slovak American building tech startups in Europe -- Used to be a VC
Recent Activity
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
Most people at this point know that I am originally from Slovakia. Although I grew up in the US, I was born in Bratislava. Although "home" never really was the country of my birth, it somehow always remained who I was. You can only imagine my dismay at having so many times heard my friends and acquaintances from there actually very negatively speaking of the country. Everyone had or has their reasons, but I chose to see things from a different perspective. I basically chose almost from the point where I moved to Europe back in the 90's to figure... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Babbling VC
I've struggled forever to keep my mouth shut. If there is one thing I have tried to work on over the years it's saying less than more. I've been reminded again and again that you often achieve far more value by listening than talking. More so than not, I have left a meeting scolding myself for opening my mouth far too often and not letting the other party speak. I have become far better at this but it is something I try to focus on nevertheless. The reason this has popped up again in my mind is that I have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at Babbling VC
I recently picked up a camera as some of you may have seen from my social network posts. I have some thoughts about this which I wanted to share. I picked up this camera for most likely some uncommon reasons. I am not a good photographer. I love taking pics but I am far from good. I had a Fuji x100 which I loved initially but used very little towards the tail-end of its time with me. My sister inherited that one. (I hope she finally starts posting some pics!) So why another camera and at that, one of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2016 at Babbling VC
It’s been some time that I’ve again been with a corporate. Those who know me told me often that they bet I’d be here for two or three years and then gone. That was over four years ago. To be honest, I too thought max three years and I’m moving on. Surprisingly, lots of things went right and I’m quite certain that this opportunity exists with many more companies as well. I am not proposing that you go start the same endeavour that my co-founder and I did. What I am getting at is that corporates have changed and continue... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Babbling VC
There is forever a problem to be found, regardless where you may look. Inevitably, corporates are really good at this. There are a ton of people within large organisations whose job it is to find problems. They aren’t necessarily there to solve them yet they are incentivised to look. As much as this sounds like an issue, it’s one of the odd godsends of working with a corporate. I can guarantee you that at a startup, where just getting shit done remains top priority, a lot of necessary things are often left out for the good of the above-mentioned goal.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2016 at Babbling VC
There’s a dirty little secret amongst those who know how to run corporate incubators/accelerators/labs and it’s one hardly anyone would openly discuss. The lifespan of these departments is always finite. Some may only make it one or two years. Some may make it to ten years. Nevertheless, none will survive much longer and very few will ever get past five years of existence. If we go back a couple of years you’d be hard pressed to find even one that is ten years old and still doing what it initially set out to do. Many have pivoted away from their... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Babbling VC
I read a blog post the other day from a well respected VC. This is someone whom I know and whose blogging I have been following religiously for years at this point. Nevertheless, I was for the first time turned off by what they had written. The reason is that this VC was quite wistful in his thinking and honestly was completely off. Were you to go to any VC nowadays and exhibit behaviour as recommended in this post, you wouldn’t come far. Your employees would too question your strategy and you’d have trouble motivating your managers. The advice seemed... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at Babbling VC
I changed gyms about a year ago due to logistics. Nevertheless, one very odd thing occurred to me at the new place which dumbfounded me for quite some time. A lot of people came into this gym and didn't shower after working out. This seemed very odd to me....on top of being kind of disgusting. Were all the people coming by bike and showering at home? Were they ashamed of showing their imperfect bodies in the shower? Is there a new trend I missed...the Paleo of showering or something along those lines? Well, no, it's far simpler. I actually asked... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2016 at Babbling VC
A couple of years back I was enamoured with the idea of reputation and the reputation economy. I even came close to joining a startup focused on reputation but am glad I didn't. I even had an idea to start my own business around the management of online reputation. Unfortunately, I don't believe that the evolution of our online behaviour is healthy when it comes to reputation. I'd actually think twice about starting a business based on reputation now because I'm quite concerned where everything online is headed. We've all started influencing our online behaviour based upon the fact that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2015 at Babbling VC