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Opinions From Startup Changemakers
German Startup Changemakers: Thomas Promny

We talked to Thomas Promny, the CEO of Velvet Ventures GmbH and an internet entrepreneur focused on B2B event businesses. He started his first company at the age of 18 and quickly embraced a learning-by-doing attitude. Find out what are his plans for the upcoming months and what are the top 3 lessons for founders he learned over the years.A blonde Caucasian man holding a microphone during a presentation.

1. Hi Thomas, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?

I started my first company at the age of 18. It was an online publishing business, and I had no idea what I was doing. But I quickly embraced a learning-by-doing attitude that still serves me well in all the businesses I’m running today.

2. You’re the CEO of Velvet Ventures GmbH. Tell us about your mission there.

What Velvet Ventures is doing, has constantly been evolving, but now we are mostly running B2B events, trade shows and conferences with a focus on digital business. Our oldest event is d3con, the world’s largest conference on programmatic advertising since 2011. Since 2013 we have been running the Online-Karrieretag, the largest job fair for the digital industry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Our newest event is the Procurement Summit, a conference and trade show for digitisation and innovation in procurement.

3. You’re an internet entrepreneur focused on B2B event businesses. What is it about entrepreneurship that particularly attracts you?

I’m mostly doing this out of a lack of alternative options. I just couldn’t work as an employee, so I had to become an entrepreneur :). Also, I believe that entrepreneurship is a great way to have much more freedom. You can choose how to work, with whom and on what.

4. Could you share the top 3 lessons for founders you learned over the years in the startup world?

1. Sure. I think the most important one is: Don’t try not to fail; fail quickly and cheaply. There’s no way to count how many things I have tried that didn’t work, but I mostly managed to find out about this pretty quickly and without huge investments.

2. I believe the biggest reason why startups fail is that they build something the world just doesn’t need. That can always happen when you’re creating something innovative. But I think it’s really important to gather real-life experience in your potential markets as soon as possible and without spending years and millions on developing the product.

3. Always start selling as soon as possible with an MVP. Don’t be a perfectionist unless you’re building a nuclear reactor. 

5. What are your plans for the upcoming months, what will you focus on?

I always have a couple of new ideas in my drawer that I’m going to start as soon as I find the time, the money or the co-founders to launch them with. I will focus mostly on B2B event businesses because I like them and I think there’s still a lot of potential in them.

Thanks for sharing your story, Thomas. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

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