The Third Degree: Jan Schammer of Dufte Berliner Produkte

By Simone ODonovan |

This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we talk to Berlin’s brightest and best CEOs, we spoke with Jan Schammer of Dufte Berliner Produkte about growing up next to the Berlin Wall, why Oliver Samwer is misunderstood and where to finish up a night out.

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

JAN SCHAMMER: I would start as many online companies as I needed until I finally found the right one. I would do the same thing as I did until I get my own idea.

SA: What do you like about Berlin?

JS: I like that it is a melting pot. There is not just one centre but rather 20; there’s not just one nationality but rather all nationalities. There are many individuals here and so many different types. You have the richest and the poorest people, you have dull grey parts of the city and lovely green parts of the city. I find the contrast most interesting.

SA: East or West Berlin?

JS: At the moment I’m living at Kottbusser Tor but I come from East Germany. I lived 50 meters behind the wall in the north of Berlin – it was the first part of East Germany! But I don’t really divide the city in my head as East and West, but rather as the parts I enjoy and don’t enjoy. There are some really cool places in both East and West.

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

JS: When I’m not working? I don’t know what that is! But no, mostly I’m out and about. I love to sit at the Landwehrkanal or the Spree, or parks. Places where there are no tourists and not many people. There’s one spot at the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg in front of a hospital where there are loads of swans.

SA: If you leave Berlin where do you like to go?

JS: San Francisco. I’ve read a lot about it. It is the birthplace of everything I’m working with right now. For me, it’s the most important city. I could never imagine not living in a city apart from when I have children.

SA: What is your favourite cafe/bar/restaurant?

JS: There are so many thousands of different really cool places. I really like Milch & Zucker on Warschauerstrasse. I also like Wild at Heart on Wienerstrasse. I go there at weekends. It’s one of my last stations to finish up a night out!

SA: If you could employ anybody who would you choose?

JS: I would employ Oliver Samwer, co-founder of Rocket Internet. A lot of people find it hard to recognise the good things about him. He gives 150 percent to all his work and is incredibly focused on what we do. He’s a very successful man. He just needs someone who concentrates on sustainability and then you would have the perfect team.

But I am in fact looking for a female company leader.

SA: How do you think Berlin as a city will develop in the next decade?

JS: I studied city planning so it’s easy to see the trends. The majority of real Berliners remain outside the city where you have approximately 420 square meters per apartment, while the others stay in areas such as Prenzlauer Berg or Kreuzberg. Then these inner areas become less cool so they move to the next trendy place and then the real Berliners come back. It’s always the same trend in city planning.

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

JS: I hope we will have a marketplace for individual products that are well presented. Everybody loves to go to little boutique shops where products are well presented. Most shops are online these days so I would hope we can develop online shopping into a more personal experience.