The Third Degree: Shermin Voshmgir of Cinovu

By Toni Ellis |

With Easter fast approaching, this week’s edition of The Third Degree, Silicon Allee’s feature where we get up close and personal with Berlin’s brightest CEOs, comes to you a day earlier than usual. We spoke to Shermin Voshmgir of Cinovu about founding a company in a techno bar and predicting the future with Star Trek.

SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t a CEO, what would you be doing?

SHERMIN VOSHMGIR: I was doing movies before I started Cinovu, and I was the CEO of my own movie company. I’ve always had a founder and CEO mentality – I wrote my first business plan when I was 16, and I went to the bank and tried to get a loan for my bar. So I think I have that founder’s spirit; I’m a do-er, and I like to be in control. Once I have an idea I go and do it. I’d pretty much be doing the same thing, I’d be in charge of something else.

SA: How would you describe Berlin?

SV: A fun, creative city where things happen. I think it’s because of Berlin that Cinovu happened. I came to Berlin one and a half years ago to finish my last movie, and the first week I was here I ran into Martin and Michael, my co-founders, through friends of friends. By the end of the night, at about 2am, we were talking and all of a sudden we decided to do Cinovu together – and it happened in a techno bar. I think that’s so Berlin. It’s a space where creative minds can meet, and things happen here.

SA: What is it that you like about Berlin?

SV: So many artists and entrepreneurs and people from all over the world come here, because its a place where things happen, in the arts, as well as the non-arts. It’s a place where there’s room for creativity, and that’s why all of us came to Berlin.

I’m from Vienna, and it has around two million inhabitants, so it’s not a small city and it’s quite international, but it’s not the place where things happen. It’s traditional, and that’s the reason why I didn’t feel comfortable in my own home town. As a startup and an entrepreneur you need to be creative, but you need to have your feet on the ground at the same time – you need to be a ‘go-getter’, and make things happen.

SA: How do you spend your time away from work?

SV: I try to be alone. Especially in the summer, I like to spend time on my bike and just ride around the whole day, and discover places. Other than that, I spend time with my friends, or I go to my gym club, and work out there to compensate for sitting around on the computer. I really like to work out – in winter at the club and in summer on my bike.

SA: When you leave Berlin, where do you go? 

SV: For the short escapes when I get some time off, I go back to Vienna to see my family. Right now, I’m not even thinking about holidays, I don’t have the time! My last vacation away was last year though; I went to Greece with some friends. It was a very spontaneous thing. I only booked a week ahead – I think that’s the only way I can leave Berlin.

SA: East or West Berlin?

SV:It’s hard to say – I live in East Berlin, and I hang around the East and what people think used to be East – like Kreuzberg and Neukölln. I very rarely go to the western parts of Berlin, because it still feels like a divided city to some extent.

SA: Favourite bar, cafe and restaurant in Berlin?

SV: I don’t have any favourites. I like the fact the fact that there are so many different places across Berlin that I don’t have to choose. I like to do different things all the time, all kinds of things. So I don’t have favourites – in anything. I don’t have one favourite place in Berlin – all of Berlin is my favourite place.

SA: What do you think the internet will look like in ten years?

SV: We have no idea of imagining how it will look. It will be in a very different place. A very, very different place!  We can’t even start to imagine where it will be. But watch Star Trek – they always foresaw the future, 40 years in advance! You can always get good hints of where the future can go from the visions of writers of TV shows.