The Third Degree: Sascha Kellert of ezeep

By Claire Adamson |

This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we chat to Berlin’s brightest CEOs, we talked to Sascha Kellert of ezeep about border confusion and why rock climbing is like being an entrepreneur.

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

SASCHA KELLERT: I would be on my way to being a CEO in a corporation – at least that’s how I started out. I was consulting earlier on the corporate track but I didn’t really enjoy it much so I left. I like to think I would have kept moving up the ladder but who knows. From university onwards it was always entrepreneurship. Maybe not tech entrepreneurship specifically, but definitely entrepreneurship.

SA: How would you describe Berlin and what do you like about it?

SK: I lived in London for three years before I moved to Berlin, so it was a drastic change. Berlin for me is a lot more relaxed, a lot more chilled out and a bit slower. But I prefer it to London because it’s full of micro-entrepreneurship. Everyone’s doing their own thing, whether it’s artists or creatives or a guy who owns a shop or a little cafe. There’s not massive chains everywhere, it’s not so commercialized. I really appreciate that about it, it’s very authentic and has a certain energy about it. Plus it’s the perfect breeding ground for what we’re doing, starting out. It’s got a very forgiving economic situation – the cost of living is low, there’s not too much noise in our space, and you can ride the wave at the moment. And it’s a great place to live as well.

SA: East or West Berlin?

SK: To be honest, I always get confused where the border is! I don’t know if we’re in West Berlin or East Berlin right now. I prefer Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain, that sort of area, but I’m pretty open. I like the mix, you know, makes it special.

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

SK: I haven’t had the opportunity to go on big summer breaks. I’m not too good at relaxing for two weeks straight, I need to be doing something. So it’s usually sports. What’s next is probably some combination of rock climbing and kite surfing: maybe El Gouna for kite surfing, and rock climbing with my brother in Austria. I haven’t planned anything yet, but I definitely need a break this year.

SA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

SK: On a weekly basis I like jogging. I need that as a coping mechanism, and it’s a good vent. I’d like to do more reading, I don’t do enough of that, and just relax, go eat dinner, go out for drinks. I used to be crazy about rock climbing; I used to go five times a week but it’s so hard to dedicate the time to that. What I like about climbing is that it’s got strong parallels to starting up. You’ve got to manage risks and you’ve got to be aware of them and not let them influence your decision making when you’re on the wall. That’s probably one of the reasons it’s one of the main things that I like to do. Right now it’s all ad hoc: not too planned apart from the jogging. I take that seriously.

SA: What is your favourite cafe, bar and restaurant here in Berlin?

SK: My favourite café is Cuccuma. I go there on Sundays usually, sit down, collect my thoughts, write a little bit and drink coffee. I like the guys who own it. I went to a really good restaurant this weekend called Der Goldene Hahn, it’s here in Kreuzberg as well. I think I do more in Kreuzberg and Neukölln than anywhere else. I like to try out different things. And for drinks, Buck and Breck in Mitte near Rosenthaler Platz. They have amazing cocktails there. It’s just a door and you knock and it’s really cool. It’s very small, you can fit like 10-15 people in there. It’s not somewhere to party, but it’s quite nice to chill out and have a nice cocktail.

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

SK: If only I knew! I don’t think it will change much. I think it needs to be protected from corruption and from forces like GEMA, and generally the old industries that are trying to protect themselves and are resistant to change. I think there is a lot of potential for those kinds of forces to either slow down its progress or end it. But in the end I think it will prevail, it won’t change much. I think it’s going to make us more connected, more open and will generally be a force for good. Other than that I think we have to wait and see.