‘Make English Your Company Language’

By David Knight |

There were plenty of attentive ears belonging to current and future German entrepreneurs as Jens Begemann, founder and CEO of wooga, doled out advice on how to set up and run a startup.

Begemann took to the stage at IdeaLab! 2011 in Koblenz and started speaking in English – and made it clear that language was important. He recalled his time at Jamba (Jamster), which was launched in 12 countries across the course of 2004. The company had started in Germany and German was the spoken language, but when they were then searching for marketing experts in places like Greece and Sweden, making fluent German a requirement would have decimated the list of potential candidates.

“My advice is to make English your company language,” he said, arguing that it allows startups to recruit from almost anywhere in the world.

He also emphasised the importance of the culture entrepreneurs instil in their companies, especially the principle of one – one office, one team, one language. And while he had a ten year vision for his company – making it clear: “Don’t have a business plan, have a vision” – he only ever had a six month plan, never any longer, such as a one year plan. “If you know what you are going to do in a year, why not implement it in six months?”

There were also some tips on recruiting, with Begemann advising two hours a day to be dedicated on searching for the right staff. By refusing to compromise when it comes to hiring – don’t take on that person if you’re not 100 percent sure – you create a staff where, like at wooga, most positions are filled through internal recommendations. Even someone failing to successfully get through their probationary period is happy to recommend the company to their friends!