Christian Laase is the Managing Director Organization and Finance for the online marketer Plista, which is part of GroupM, responsible for finance, controlling, business operations and human resources.
Christian Laase studied International Business Administration and Business Information at the European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel, as well as in Thailand and India. Prior to Plista, he was involved in two company start-ups: 2004, co-founder of the IT specialist communications and creative agency Liquid Solutions 8 GmbH and 2006 as co-founder of the software agency 5MM. In addition, the citizen of Berlin, who speaks five languages, is the founder and CEO of Weltfrieden AG, which is committed to responsible investments.
Mr. Laase, how did the founding team of Plista get together?
It was the mixture of three things: the desire for independence, the passion for innovative technology and the enthusiasm for online advertising.
Andreas Richter and I studied together at the EBS in Östrich-Winkel. In the last year of the university we discovered our shared passion for independence and went to Berlin together ...
... a classic garage foundation?
Well, something like that. In fact, we first slept with my parents on the couch, later founded a shared flat with office in a large old building. There we founded the first company, a web agency, where we developed the basic building blocks for our technology. Later we moved into an office in Mitte.
Dominik Matyka then brought in the know-how and the enthusiasm in the field of online advertising. This we have combined with our technology - and made a real product of it. We founded 2008 together with Dominik Plista - and grew steadily from there.
It is always said, in order to be able to work together optimally, teams must complement each other in their abilities. What does it look like?
This applies to us completely: The success of the company is essentially based on the mixture of the three founders or characters:
- Andreas is a visionary and technician with strategic vision and love for the product. He is therefore responsible for the further and new development of the products.
- Dominik is a gifted salesman, networker, and a business clerk.
- Christian looks after the organization, the finances, but also brings together the emotional ends, balances and endeavors not least for the well-being of all participants.
- Since autumn 2013, Jana Kusick has also been the strategic all-rounder in management.
It is also - but not only - a question of different expertise. At least as important were always the complementary characters, the different roles of the founders in the Company and the mixture of all these properties.
If you have, for example, For example, your rapid growth? Or did you first start and think, now we see what develops?
We came fresh from the university and just started. Of course there were abstract ideas from the beginning. Only from a technology. Then from a product. From a big company. With the decision to bring investors on board, the decision was also made for rapid growth.
We could not foresee what exactly and in detail this means. We have always made the best of it and also kept the necessary flexibility on the road. Both our products, our organization and the founders personally. In the end, everything went very well.
Can you plan success from start to finish? I think no. Are there factors that favor success? I think so. But you always know that afterwards. More in the second part of the interview.
How do you find suitable personnel? And has recruiting changed with the growing size of the company?
Our success depends strongly on the right employees. With good employees it is like with good friends: the one finds them basically everywhere, the other however nowhere. Obvious but often cost-intensive places are the tenders on job portals and job exchanges. Or as an ultima of the headhunter, if nothing else goes.
Less obvious and often free, however, are conferences, online forums, social networks (FB, etc.). But also the baker on the corner has already worked with us. Good salespeople do not necessarily have to come from their own business.
So you prefer to network rather than search specifically?
Yes, what has been improving over the years and has become a vital part of our recruitment strategy is the good word-of-mouth propaganda of our own employees. If the job is fun and you believe in the company, talk to friends and acquaintances from your own social environment. So we found some of our best employees.
Therefore, the employees not only do yoga together, but also compete against the bosses in summoning or go on team trips twice a year. Of course, we also use 'normal' recruiting channels, but we set targeted incentives to inspire a certain type of person.
There is no general way of addressing. This has to be oriented in the individual case to the social context. A first approach to Stepstone sounds naturally different from the personal invitation with a glass of wine among friends.
Innovation: How does it work if you need new ideas for your company?
This process has also changed in the course of the company's history. At the start, much more fundamental decisions had to be made. What do we do at all? With whom and when? These ideas were often formulated only by the founders in long neighbors, lots of coffee and square meter whiteboards.
Today it is about equally important but not so fundamental decisions or ideas. What do we do. What are we doing? What do we do differently? These ideas and decisions often come from our management meeting (founder + management), are presented to us by employees and presented. But there is also an innovation agency or a classic Klausrgtagung over a weekend to the employment.
How does it work when you delegate tasks: Which means of communication do you prefer? And how do you make sure the other person has understood you correctly?
We have learned an important fact: "Mere information is not communication!" Of course, just an email (information) cannot replace a personal conversation (communication). Not at all. On the other hand, you can't just sit in meetings all day.
Basically it works like this with us:
- Various meetings (all-hands, management, teams, task forces, projects, etc.) for direct communication. As much as necessary - as little as possible.
- Mails and phone calls with the customer.
- Internally, in addition to meetings for the delegation and documentation of tasks, we work as much as possible in a very extensive task management system (Jira).
Misunderstandings occur - but these can be quickly clarified in the context of an open and fundamentally benign dealings with each other.
Was there a point in the development of the company that you had to take a step back in the first place, but which subsequently emerged as a necessary learning step?
One grows, one also times someone. One develops products, stamps a few of them again. Wins customers, also loses some. Trying in another market, retreats back from this.
Growth is only linear in the rarest of cases. Growth and success are more like a dance: two steps forward - one step back. It's better than standing in front of a big wall at some point, but never having learned that you can or have to take a step back.
As long as you get to the end, this is a completely normal and healthy development. And actually half the fun of the thing.
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