This is our last TEAM TALKS BLOG (for now!) so we decided to sum up the series so far by talking to our co-founder and CEO, Jakob. Keep reading to find out everything we chatted about on a busy office day, and make sure you stay tuned for more exciting articles coming very soon!
It’s great to have you here Jakob for our last TEAM TALKS blog in this series, as always can you tell us a bit about your background, and what you did before founding SPRT?
‘I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and came to Germany when I was 2 years old. I have three different degrees in Business Law (B.LL), Finance (M.SC) and International Management (M.A) After completing my master program I worked as a business analyst for a company specialised in the medical industry. In these two and a half years I was responsible for M&A deals for the European Business Department. During the travelling that my work entailed, I recognised a problem: Finding other, like-minded people to do sports with. I didn’t think it should have to be so difficult to find others without joining some sort of club or organisation. I kept thinking about this problem and I started thinking about a solution, this solution stemmed from an idea to what SPRT is today.’
That’s a great story and shows your initiative thinking, apart from this what makes you, you?
‘My friends describe me as someone who lives in ‘extremes’ rather than a constantly balanced life. I really do like to challenge myself physically as well mentally. This character trait (I guess) was really beneficial for me in building this startup. As an entrepreneur and founder, you need to have the ability to focus on the goal and vision and overcome all pitfalls during your journey. Another interesting point about me is that I can’t stand to lose! This makes it pretty interesting if you are playing with me on a team!’ ?
I think that’s a great summing up of some of the characteristics needed in an entrepreneur. How did you find the confidence to take the plunge and throw yourself into your vision?
‘My previous working experiences, 9 years of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and my dedication to my goal shaped me into the person that I am today. Preparing yourself to go into the ring and to compete against some else who you don’t know is an excellent ability to face unforeseen and unpredictable events. It’s important to train this confidence and instinct, to learn, grow, stay motivated and to become a better leader.’
That’s a brilliant mindset to have, incorporating personal growth with wider successes. What has been the best thing about starting SPRT in your opinion and what has been the most difficult thing about starting SPRT?
‘Honestly, I could talk about this topic with you for several hours… but what makes me proud and happy is to see that every day there are thousands of people who have the same passion for sports as I had when I started with this idea. Connecting athletes to challenge and compete against each other was something I always wanted but never had the opportunity to do, so 3 years later I’m now actually closer than ever before.
The most difficult thing…. mhhhhm….to always be yourself. Continuing to focus on your vision and BELIEVE IT, don’t allow others to destroy your dreams. I talked to more than 100 investors, venture capitalists and other institutions and at the beginning, nobody believed in this idea…Look where we are now!’ ?
I can only imagine how proud you are to see SPRT growing and coming into its own now. Besides this is there anything you’re working towards right now outside of SPRT?
‘Sports! At least 6 times a week! Besides that, I love to stay up to date on tech developments, I am not the stereotypical tech geek but I really am highly interested in new approaches to tech!’
Interesting! Who was the person you looked up to growing up? Was there someone specific?
‘There never was, and still is no one in particular. Instead, it’s more the attitude of a person I look up to, so really my role model could be anyone. I’m inspired by people who are dedicated to their dream; people who are hard workers, dreamers, believers and achievers!’
Well, that seems to be the best thing to aspire to be like! Speaking of aspiring for things, what’s one goal you have for the next year?
‘Call me Forbes 30 under 30!’ ? ?
We’re right behind you! What’s something you feel that you personally achieved in 2018?
‘An amazing Team, phenomenal Users and did I mention a great, growing Team!’ ?
Wow, both of those sound like great places to go! Well thanks so much for answering some of our questions today and we’ll catch up again soon!
‘It has to be Conor McGregor!’
That’s such a good pick! So to bring it back home, what’s your favourite area in Berlin?
‘It’s Kreuzberg, definitely!’
For me too! Because sport seems to be such a big part of your life, both work-wise and in your free time, can you tell me why you think doing sport is important?
‘You’re right, sport is a very important part of my life. It relieves me of the stress of everyday life and it allows me to relax my mind. Furthermore, team sports are good for learning accountability, dedication, and leadership among many other traits. Most importantly, sports connect people. Nevermind where you are from or who you are – sports are a tool to bridge cultures and start communication.’
A very positive message, and one I fully agree with! So, with the new year in mind, what’s one place you’d love to visit but never have?
‘The North Pole!’
Haha wow, well be sure to keep us updated on your plans there! What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?
‘The Philippines, it’s home to such happy and friendly people with a beautiful landscape. It was amazing to see that their richness is valued through the simplest of pleasures, not by the money they have.’