Yesterday, Paul Jozefak announced that he and former eVenture investment manager Michael Backes are launching Liquid Labs, a new project backed by the Otto Group that Jozefak’s describing as “a bunch of investors and entrepreneurs who will be building companies” in a “skunkworks like” environment. It’s not an accelerator. It’s not an incubator. It’s not a venture capital fund, and, as far as we can tell, it’s not a gang bang poolhouse either. (Damnit).
In the spirit of “cutting the stealth mode crap,” we caught up with Jozefak for a Q&A:
VV: Your Twitter says you’re a “Slovak-born American in Germany building start-ups and abusing technology.” Funny, we like abusing technology too. What specifically did you have in mind?
PJ: I’m a huge geek when it comes to new technologies and innovations. I love testing new products, working with entrepreneurs, being a part of disruptive technologies and so forth. I get a huge kick out of being surrounded by the super smart people who tend to be involved in start-ups. It inspires me to be surrounded by them and their technologies and drives me to be better at what I do.
VV: We’re judging together at TWIST. What are you expecting to see and hear?
PJ: I’m really excited to see what new “wave” of ideas is coming out of Berlin. I am crossing my fingers that we don’t see more pure copycats.
VV: Hear you like Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball. What did you think of Billy Beane’s transformation into a front-office guru? Have you ever transformed yourself to win a game?
PJ: I think what Billy did was brilliant and am curious to see if he comes to Europe to take over some football (soccer) team. I’ve transformed myself basically every time I changed jobs. I’ve continually jumped from industry to industry and always tried to take a non-linear approach to the things I was doing. Hence, I was able to usually bring outside perspectives to the things I did. Thinking differently (not to sound like Jobs) often has it’s benefit but tends to wear of quickly once you’re assimilated into a team or company. You have to jump around to stay fresh and continually transform yourself.
VV: Your new partner is Michael Backes, also a US expat with VC experience in Hamburg. Can you tell us what your dynamic’s like? Who’s the Sid and who’s the Nancy?
PJ: Michael is a good friend who fills out a lot of my weaknesses and vice-verse. I have huge respect for his opinions and feedback when discussing things. Not really commenting much more on that! :-)
VV: Heard Hamburg has the largest model railway in the world. Do you think Berlin could ever beat this title?
PJ: To be honest, I don’t really care much for the “Hamburg vs Berlin anything”! I think the two cities are very complimentary to one another, are not far apart, so easily commutable back and forth and can support one another to bring German innovation and thinking forward. Politically correct enough for you? :-)
VV: Is there really a Hamburg vs. Berlin thing? ; )
Looking forward to serving up some more and less serious judgments with Jozefak on the judging panel at Twist next week!!