From South Beach to Startups: The TK Experience

From South Beach to Startups: The TK Experience

For someone who has made hundreds of millions in his lifetime, has transformed a decrepit part of Miami into one of its most exclusive neighbourhoods and who was a notorious party animal before reforming, you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s never quiet when Thomas Kramer is in the room.

The teenage political activist-turned-rising stock market star-turned-real estate mogul delighted students, alumni and other assorted attendees with his closing speech at the EBSpreneurship forum on Saturday. He described the three stages of his life so far – and how he is embarking on the fourth, this time focused on startups.

The story of how the man known as TK came to be at the European Business School in the first place is in itself telling. Lukas von Ingelheim, a co-founder of Berlin-based startup Ada’s Avenue and 2010 EBS graduate, recognised Kramer in a restaurant a few years ago, when he was still in his party phase. Lukas asked if he could take a picture with him, at which point TK whipped out his own camera and they ended up swapping details.

Fast forward a couple of years and Lukas was helping the latest crop of students organise the annual forum. They were looking for someone a bit different to close the event, and he fired off an email to Thomas more in hope than expectation.

But here he was in person; larger than life as you would expect. And while he may be a reformed character these days, he was still the life and soul of the party afterwards, as evidenced by the throng of people gathered around him. Silicon Allee managed to grab five minutes with him to ask about his latest business interest, startups. He said: “I’m on the fourth leg in my life – I have a lot of startups myself that I organise, that I finance, and I hire the people to do them. Now I’m spreading my wings eastwards… It gives me a huge, huge adrenaline push in developing future startups and nourishing the ones that I have already incorporated.”

Thomas is certainly firm in his belief that the place to be for business in the next few years is not the US or Europe, but Asia. He added: “My base is in Miami, but I am starting a new company in Dubai… I’m doing the same with Singapore, because I think that my future at least with startups and any kind of investment is in the East. You just have this unbelievable sucking sound as well; everything is getting transferred to the East. It’s amazing to see, feel and smell the trends in these developing countries like India, China, Brazil, and I just don’t want to miss this great opportunity in my next leg [of my life].”

There probably aren’t many people who would bet against him being a successful startup guru; certainly no one who has seen his limitless enthusiasm up close. He didn’t have to be persuaded, for example, to take up Lukas’s offer to come to EBSpreneurship: “I just by accident came to this fantastic forum where I (have) met a lot of fantastic people that I can share sources and ideas and hopefully joint venture with.”

But while he may not be joining the German scene any time soon, he is still a fan – “I love Berlin, it opened my mind” – and he will be in town several times in the next few months. Perhaps we can persuade him to bring a bit of the magic Kramer touch while he’s here…

About David Knight

David is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Silicon Allee. Originally from London, he has lived in Berlin for over seven years, having previously worked for news portals including Bild.de and Spiegel Online before helping to found Silicon Allee in 2011.

36 comments

  1. Such high praises of supossedly great business people make me sceptical. And – surprise – with a bit of research one finds less flattering things about Kramer.

    Wether it is risky investment deals in East Germany …
    http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-13499547.html

    … lawsuits brought against him …
    http://www.law.com/jsp/law/international/LawArticleIntl.jsp?id=1202427292704&Investor_Running_Out_of_Options_to_Avoid_Paying_108_Million_Judgment&slreturn=20120909112723

    … poor behaviour …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shrmuDr5ZR8

    … or questionable opinions:
    “German social security laws are the reason I don’t want to be in Germany. One doesn’t dare to employ people if you know you can hardly get rid of them.” (translated from the description of the above clip)

    Why do you want people with such history and opinions to be examples for Berlin startup entrepreneurs?

    • Why dig up negative nonsense? You obviously know nothing about what he has achieved.

      • Karen, this is not negative nonsense but part of Kramers track record of “achivements”. Which is public thanks to the internet – and nothing I dug up.

        The controversy about his South Beach development is mentioned in several articles including Wikipedia. I doubt that property deals this size can be made without paying someone off – especially in Miami.

        If you or any of the commenters feel he deserves the praises and should be an example – ok. I don’t.

        In my opinion success does not excuse poor behaviour or in his case even
        borderline criminality.

        PS: the number of comments is very rare on SA articles. Anyone from TKs office in the house? ;)

        • Haha ber you hit the nail on the head. THEY ALL work for him. Sucking his dick and being his puppets to make a dollar. WHY hasnt this asshole been deported?? Hes no inspiration. Hes a modern day Hitler/ loser trying his best for everyone not to see him for the scumbag he is.

        • Well, it was just a thought since Kramer linked to this article in his twitter account.

          PS: Hitler comparisons – not good. justified criticism – better

  2. Just the cherry on the (rotten) cake – his own reality tv show:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkyzWkPdByY

    Make up your mind yourself – but the “magic Kramer touch” would be a Griff ins Klo if you ask me.

    • This episode is actually very good, much better than all the one you actually see on TV right now! Ber, you’re just a jealous person and I’m very sad for you!

  3. Slamdunk! Summary of several (alleged) sexual assaults by Kramer and other disturbing behaviour:
    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1995-11-23/news/this-has-been-an-eventful-year-for-real-estate-tycoon-thomas-kramer-one-multimillion-dollar-land-deal-with-the-city-of-miami-beach-and-two-sordid-stories-of-alleged-sexual-assault/

    David – please do some research before you write your articles. This guy is inacceptable.

  4. Ber sounds like jealous party popper!

    Any public person has ridiculous allegations against them – important is:

    TK has a clean record and does hide and shares his experience!

  5. WE LOVE TK!

    While cowards hide behind fake names – TK is out there doing things most people dream of!

    Keep being inspiration & hope for thousands!

    Your FAN

  6. No one ever got me personally so inspired and reengaged with business & LIFE like TK

    TXS for finding people like him to give speeches!!

  7. Please make sure to invite TK to your next event!

    I loved the energy TK spread with his emotional speech!

  8. TK got the conference dancing with excitement – this is what entrepreneurs need beside text book lectures!

    I wish there would be more people out there like TK sharing there experience!

    TXS for the great speaker choice!

    I will be back!

  9. Some people inspire you and then you forget about them after a while, but this has really been one of those speeches that will not leave you. I hope I will remember the spirit when times are rough and thanks to TK for the inspiration! Hope to see you again soon

  10. Everyone knows that perseverance is important.You’ve probably heard the quote “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” or seen the commercial that talks about falling down 7 times and standing up 8.The lesson, of course, is that few people achieve anything great without first overcoming a few obstacles.

    Preaching about the importance of perseverance is easy.Actually experiencing failure and continuing on undeterred; now that’s tough.
    But Tk proves that it can be done.This famous entrepreneurs exemplified perseverance.Maybe he will inspire you to overcome whatever obstacle is currently standing in your way.
    Thanks TK!

  11. Some say so, others say so …
    Important is what comes back out …
    And that can be visited, for example, in Miami!”

  12. I had the pleasure of meeting TK on numerous occasions and what a wonderful person he is! Kind and wise. Young kids today should follow in his footsteps for sure.

  13. Great article! Keep em coming! What an inspirational man! Mr. Kramer sure does have a talent for public speaking. Is there going to be a video posted? I would love to see it!

  14. Have been over TK’s mega mansion in Miami this spring for a private entrepreneurship speech. He is so amazing and inspirational. Just his stories made me jump-start my own business. He is a great guy no matter what others may be saying.

  15. TK was great! He inspired and captivated the students!

    It was a great speech!

  16. TK is very inspiring, I hope I will be able to succeed as much as he did! The story of his life is very interesting and I’m impress with everything he ever accomplished! Go TK!

  17. TK is a Great inspiring example for everybody who wants to succeed in this life!!!

  18. I lived in Miami for over nearly two decades and boy do I think that the person writing this article is delusional. “Thomas is certainly firm in his belief that the place to be for business in the next few years is not the US or Europe, but Asia.” Yes. Of course Thomas would think that Asia is the next best spot to do business in. Why? Because who would possibly do business with this loser in the U.S of A or even Europe.

    People in Miami run away from him as far as possible. Not one respectable businessman would ever do business with Kramer. He is all smoke and mirrors. It’s all about the appearance with him. He wants to seem larger -than-life, but in reality, everything around him is crumbling. Ask any serious businessman in Miami. Kramer is nothing.

    Ask yourself, when was the last time Kramer has done anything significant? Decades ago. And even then he managed to fuck everyone over and take credit for someone else’s work. ( say hello to Jorge Perez for me! ) Those who were on the scene in the 90s will attest that all that Thomas ever did, was buy land with his wife’s step-father’s money which he received as a “present” (allegedly).

    Kramer is pathetic. It’s sad to see him play all rich and powerful especially since he’s just another has-been who has been lucky once too many times.

    As for all of those commenters praising Kramer: Thomas, stop hiding under pseudonyms or having your sycophantic assistants write on here. People are not stupid. You only make yourself look like a fool.

    • NO ONE does business with him. In my circle he is laughed at. He comes in trying so hard to have us believe he’s working on the biggest deal of the year months later NOTHING. I say leave the business to real business minded individuals and stick to hosting your sex parties. When my assistant forwarded me this link I at first wasnt going to comment but having false information out there like this will only hurt Miami Beach. Dont be alarmed investors. Thomas Kramer isnt ANYONES business partner.

      • Thanks Queen, Mike C. and CEO – it’s good to hear from locals in Miami (I guess) that Kramer is what I suspected – a show-off.

      • You have really bad grammar, for a CEO. Trying to read your writing if making my eyes twitch. If you are a CEO, then I am the president of the United States of fucking AMERICA!!

  19. This article is a joke! Thomas Kramer is a train wreck and the laughing stock of Miami Beach. Take a poll of anyone who is successful and you will see he is not respected by the residents nor is he respected by The City of Miami Beach. Smoke and Mirrors. All talk. Tell him to reveal these start ups he has funded. He begs for interviews to stay relevant then speaks of things that happened over 20 years ago. Says buildings were built by him when he was never apart of the projects the only people who believes this stuff are people over seas who dont do their research. STAY AWAY. Affiliation with this man will cause you career ruin!

  20. Great article! TK should write a book on how to be a successful businessman!

  21. TK IS AN INSPIRATION TO SO MANY! People should STOP spreading lies about HIM! JEALOUSY IS JUST UGLY!

  22. This was a very moving & exciting speech!

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