The Third Degree is back! Silicon Allee’s Friday feature where we talk to Berlin’s best and brightest CEOs has returned after a hiatus. This week, we spoke to Guillaume Vaslin, co-founder and CEO of eelusion, about boxing clubs and Soviet architecture.
SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t a CEO, what would you be doing?
GUILLAUME VASLIN: I like to start projects, not necessarily companies but cultural projects. Also, I consider myself creative; I like to draw, I like to imagine stuff, so maybe finding an idea and putting it on paper.
SA: How would you describe Berlin and what do you like about it?
GV: Berlin is one of the most interesting cities I’ve seen so far. I travel a lot but I think here you have such an effervescence of cultures, of ideas, of minds. There are all these people who think a bit out of the box. Not just anarchists, or artists, but people doing different things. The international aspect of Berlin is really interesting. There is a motivation to do something, to mix ideas.
SA: How would you compare Berlin to other cities?
GV: For me Berlin is a mix. In Berlin you have parts like Paris, fancy Mitte and Friedrichstrasse, and you also have a bit of Russian style: It’s like Moscow with small underground cafés and the post-apocalyptic-looking old buildings where you have rave parties. You have a part of London with all the young people and artists. It’s a real mix of different cities, which makes it so interesting. You can get everything you want. You go to Charlottenburg for ‘fancy parties on the Champs d’Elysses’, girls with Louis Vuitton and high heels, and then you go to Warschauer Strasse and you see all the bums and hipsters. You can follow the U-Bahn through Berlin and you can see so many different atmospheres.
SA: East or West Berlin?
GV: East, because West Berlin reminds me way too much of Paris. I found it a bit like a museum city. It’s a bit boring. Maybe because there is a huge unemployment rate and people hang out much more. I don’t know how to explain why it is like that. There’s just something in the air.
SA: How do you spend your time away from work?
GV: I do quite a lot of sports. I was swimming quite a lot in Paris and I am motivated to go boxing. I haven’t started yet, but I will! Besides that I like to party and to meet people. Sunday afternoons in Berlin enjoying good music, good sound systems and just meeting people who have nothing to do with me.
SA: When you leave Berlin, where do you go?
GV: I go visit my family sometimes in Paris although I haven’t been there for six months. My girlfriend is Russian, from St Petersburg, so I sometimes go there because I really love the country. After the 90s it was like the Wild Wild West – the Wild Wild East, maybe. Suddenly there was a huge amount of capitalism, and a generation of people who were totally lost. There were nouveau riche people going in the American direction, and there was all this conflict of ideology. And what’s also interesting is the Soviet architecture. When you go to Moscow there are all these huge egocentric buildings which are now degrading a bit. I really like them, these old buildings that are a bit dark, they are very interesting from a creative point of view. And besides that, the people are very nice because they’re not that used to receiving tourists. Moscow is popular, but when you go a bit deeper into the country they are so happy, so nice. It’s wonderful.
SA: What is your favourite bar, cafe and restaurant in Berlin?
GV: Favourite restaurant I would say actually Chan, which is close to our office. I don’t really go to cafes, I go to bars. I like Mein Haus am See in Mitte, that’s pretty cool. I go to quite a lot of bars, not any one in particular. I go out a lot in Friedrichshain because I live there. You have the Kptn bar which is pretty good, and Club der Visionäre.
SA: What do you think the Internet will look like in ten years?
GV: I hope it will look better. I wish it could be more integrated into other sectors, for example politics. The Internet is more than only media, it’s a way of doing business, a way of exchanging ideas. It’s actually the best revolution we have: People connected all over the world to exchange and create content, to be much more than passive, such as in TV. I really like the Pirate Party in Germany, they are trying to make people aware of the potential of the Internet.