Franz Inselkammer full
Franz Inselkammer, owner of post&up
German Franz Inselkammer, 35, is the founder of post&up, a company that lets customers send personally-designed photoletters, which turn into a 'framed' photo, to friends and families
Where did the original idea come from?
I was on a path to find an opportunity to live out my entrepreneurial ambitions and one day, out of the blue, Nadine Meisel crossed my path. Nadine is a Barcelona-based, award-winning inventor and her work is even shown in the local museum of ideas and inventions (MIBA). The one product that really grabbed my attention was the 'photoletter'. One day she was fiddling around with a regular envelope when she was struck by the idea of developing a creative card that transforms into a self-standing photo frame. This sparked the idea of creating the innovative company post&up in Barcelona, that now commercialises the product. Anyone can create their own personalised photoletter on our website. We elaborated on the original idea by adding a whole range of frames that suit different occasions like, for example, birthdays, Christmas or Valentine's Day. The photoletter brings together the advancements of the digital world and traditions, which we then connect with sincerity and love. The last step was to find a printer to make this business possible—we found in Germany a printer that employs people with disabilities. Finally, creativity, technology and social responsibility were tied together, giving us the motivation to seriously pursue www.postandup.com. Nadine’s designer background and my knowledge in IT and interest for business provided the perfect synergy to make this work.
How long did it take to get your business off the ground?
If you define “getting your business off the ground” as getting my weekends back, I would say six months. This however doesn't mean that you can sit back and rest; if you stop, your business will ultimately fail. You need to be dedicated and love what you're doing to make your work successful and sustainable.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
Marketing is everything. It is not sufficient to have a really good service or product. You have to sell it. It is much more time-consuming then we thought. We spend much more time on marketing now; this includes, for example, continuous improvement of our website, developing our PR, being present on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, investing in high-quality photography and preparing events and promotions for major holidays. When you start your business you should have a marketing plan in tact; be prepared, so you know what's ahead.
How easy was it to get the financing for your business?
Well, financing for every start-up is always the most complicated issue. I started with my own savings. It's tough coming from a regularly-paid job into entrepreneurship, first of all because you have to deny yourself quite a few luxuries, and secondly because you have to spend a lot of time working late nights and weekends. We work with third parties as a vehicle for logistics and connections; however to grow to our full potential, we are still looking for an investor who believes in our ambitions.
Did you find the paperwork difficult?
Paperwork in Barcelona is relatively painless. Find a good accountant who will take care of your documents; this will save you a lot of hassle. In Spain, accountants take everything off your hands, from setting up a business to doing your finances and dealing with your taxes. On top of that, it is relatively affordable. The administrative costs for companies are lower than in Germany, from accounting to renting offices to doing your taxes. There are many English-speaking accountants here in Barcelona; it is just a matter of getting in touch with some of them and seeing who is the best fit for your business!
Did you get help from any particular official organisations or associations (e.g. Chambers of Commerce)? If so, please describe
Barcelona Activa is a great tool to get started. They have free seminars for English speakers on how to set up your business. You can approach them with your business plan and they also hold a list of professionals who you may possibly need to set up your business. You can register yourself on their website. It’s fairly easy to get information from them and they have been very helpful.
What is your business experience / background / qualifications?
I worked as an IT consultant in Germany, Austria and Spain. I came to Barcelona because of a work opportunity that was presented to me at the time.
Eventually, like most expatriates in Barcelona, I fell in love with the city. My original intention was to stay one or two years for the IT project and now I am here in my seventh. I still have no plans to move away.
What are the positive aspects about having a business here?
Let's face it, it's fantastic to live in a city that others choose as a holiday destination. Barcelona has a rich culture and also the surroundings offer unlimited opportunities to have new experiences.
You will find really interesting people here to work with; it's a metropolitan city and you never meet the same character twice. My experience with Spanish work colleagues has always been positive and I have learnt a lot from the locals here.
In terms of location, Barcelona is great, because I have to travel often to our branch in Munich. It is extremely central, so you can do business all over Europe very easily, like we do in London or Cologne. Another upside is that I even learned Spanish.
And the negative aspects?
Spain is not Germany and Germany is not Spain. This doesn't mean necessarily that this is negative, just different. In my opinion, if you open up to the culture in Barcelona and embrace its people, there is nothing that stands in your way.
Are there any other useful contacts, tips or information you think would be useful to other foreign entrepreneurs in Barcelona? Please describe
The Metropolitan Guiri meeting is great for networking with English speakers, you will meet people there from all kinds of industries.
If you also speak German, I can recommend getting in touch with the Círculo de jóvenes directivos hispano-alemanes (also called WIJUS). As a boardmember of this group, we organise speaker events and bonding activities.
You should look at websites such as Linkedin or XING, where you will find a numerous amount of networking groups that may be more suitable for your industry.