Admit it: if you are a startup or small team starting a business you have reached a point where you were (or still are) lost. Like, REALLY lost.🙃There are just too many questions about product, business, market approach etc. and you don’t even know where to start finding the answers. What do you do? Run to the mountains? Go with your instincts? Ask for help? If so, from whom?🙄

Our mentor Mark Jäger knows the struggle! He has been on both sides: as a successful founder and consultant of startups. An in order to help teams coming up with actually useful solutions, his strategy is to guide them into finding the right question.💡 In this quick interview he shares with us some of his tips for mentoring teams (and not to get super lost)

Who is Sandra Fischer- (1)

1 – Hi Mark! Could you tell us a bit about your area of expertise?
While at University I started out programming. After Uni I started at an agency in Hamburg, did e-commerce and retails for eight years. And after that I started an incubator, with Nico (our COO), and there I founded Stuffle, which was the first mobile classifieds app.

We did Stuffle for four years, so I did, at least once myself, I scaled a startup from the first idea to a million downloads, and went through all the s** you go through when starting a company. We were a founder team: we had a technical cofounder, a business cofounder and I was the product guy. My whole thing was product strategy, prototyping, concepts…also did a lot of research and customer-driven development…. and also UX design…but the core was product strategy and prototyping

2 – What did this position of co-founder of Stuffle teach you about business strategy and innovation? What are the main lessons you got from it?

The main lesson I got is: there is no lesson! 😅  I think each and every startup is unique, and I don’t want to have the authority on how to do a startup, or how to do a product. But I have been there, I know in what status they are in and what kind of mindshare they’re in when doing the startup themselves…and I can relate to that.

And now I have a bigger picture, because I’m a freelancer, I’m doing a lot of projects with new products, and lot more product strategy…But i still know how it is like to be in the trenches. I can share what I know to startups founders in a way that they understand, in a way that they can practically use in their day-to-day work. I don’t want to do strategy, for strategy sake.

 

3 – And how do you think startups can learn from your experience the most?
I think i can really help them to understand their product. That’s why we do the Product Field workshop, and I love to do that, because what it’s most fun to me is to understand what they do.
I love to help them understand what they actually do, because I think that’s what has the most impact. If I tell them what to do…First, I don’t think I can do that. Second, I want to enable them to understand and come to the right conclusions on their own.

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Mark in action: helping the Product Field workshop with our Batch 4

4 – You have joined the Silicon Pauli Patrons Program, right? How is your work with startups there?
With Silicon Pauli  the goal is to help startups in a creative way. We are mostly mostly ux guys and strategy guy and we are giving away a bit of our time to help them. We did workshops and also the Product Field thing with the teams.
First you really have to find out what’s really the problem they have, and then how can we help them. For example, with one team there were only tech guys and they weren’t able to express themselves in a way that investors understood. And what we could help them, in this case, was to make great-looking mockups of what they wanna do, great looking presentations..And this was the result of the Product Field workshop, where we found out that this was the biggest problem.

5- Last, but not least: what are the key aspects that make a product really innovative?
Innovation is the result of thinking about making something better than it was before. And the question of how far the solution is from what you do today depends on the problem.
What I’m interested in is to find the right questions and give great answers to them. Finding problems and making great solutions to it. The question of how innovative the solution must be totally depends on the problem. So innovation is something that falls out in the end.

Thanks for the great tips, Mark! You can check out more of his work here