Christian Ogait, CEO and founder of PAPA OSCAR Ventures tells us about the venture investment process and the impact of Covid-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Christian Ogait: Thank you, we are all doing fine. We just accepted the fact, that we can’t control or deny the current crisis and that we got to live with it. We are trying to see the positive aspects of it such as the solidarity we experience and that we can focus on what is really important: Health, family, and friends.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded PAPA OSCAR Ventures.
Christian Ogait: I was always very interested in innovative start-ups but also had an affinity towards fashion and B2C products in general. After a long and successful career in both corporate, as an investor and business angel, I decided why not combine both. My vision was to empower young, talented, and innovative people to help them reach their goals. That’s how the idea was born to create a fashion and B2C VC/accelerator with operational support.
How does PAPA OSCAR Ventures innovate?
Christian Ogait: As we are a venture capital company, we innovate internally as well as externally through our operational support for our ventures. Externally, we continuously innovate through adapting the business models of our various ventures e.g. we switched all of our distribution channels to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) approach – meaning that we only sell through our own online shops, creating unique and powerful shopping experiences. Internally we constantly innovate our work approach. We are trying to not follow a certain trend but start a new one. That is why we combined the venture capital approach with the benefits of an e-commerce service agency as well as the best aspects of a financial institution, which is granting a credit line. Our work approach and all of our processes are agile and dynamic enough to constantly iterate and innovate the smallest aspects, and we never stop trying to innovate.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Christian Ogait: Fortunately, the coronavirus boosted our business since we work in the e-commerce industry which is one of a few industries that definitely experienced exponential growth during the pandemic. For our focus markets (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) it was about time that e-commerce and digitalization breakthrough to the mainstream market, and the pandemic acted as a catalyst. However, we had to adapt our way of working since we also moved to an own office during the pandemic. We are used to working altogether in an open space because we have to communicate constantly. Due to the restrictions, we had to adapt our working schedules and we were working in smaller teams as well as remote.
All in all, the pandemic boosted our business model especially the revenues surged and are still rising. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to get back to normal – which for us means: a lot of in-person meetings and close teamwork in the office.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Christian Ogait: You got to be agile! That is the key. Another important lesson we learned is, that you have to give your employees enough flexibility and the freedom to work in a way they think they operate the best.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Christian Ogait: Like almost every company, we have to get used to zoom meetings, google hangouts, and Microsoft team events. But we were using a lot of digital communication tools before the crisis so it wasn’t a big stretch for us.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Christian Ogait: That is a good question. We often search the market for real competitors, but we cannot detect any direct competitors since we merged three different business models. In general, all VCs, financial institutions, and service agencies would fall in the category of indirect competition which leaves us in a quite comfortable position. The crisis showed that we have just started and that the potential is endless. So we are pretty sure, that we will continue to grow exponentially over the next years.
Your final thoughts?
Christian Ogait: I think one lesson from the crisis, not only for companies but also in personal life, is that people seek experiences. Especially during lock-down periods, we noted, that everyone misses experiences whether in the form of events, dates, or parties. And we as PAPA OSCAR Ventures highly believe that this search for experience is applicable to the business world and especially in the B2C industry. We make people happy because we create experiences.
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