“Of course, entrepreneurship doesn’t just offer endless fun”
In the bustling world of entrepreneurship, we often stumble upon individuals who dare to take that leap into the unknown and seize the opportunity to follow their dreams. One such inspiring figure is André Piepenburg, a 34-year-old edu-tech entrepreneur from Germany.
With a background in finance, André decided to chart a new course and founded Absolventen-Schmiede, a platform supporting students with writing, editing and coaching services. In this candid interview, we delve into André’s entrepreneurial journey, his passion for education, and the joys and challenges of running his own business.
Join us as we explore how e-residency has empowered André’s venture, and discover how Xolo Leap makes his business management a breeze!
Hey André! Give us a quick intro about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now, and what keeps you busy personally and professionally?
André: My name is André Piepenburg, I am 34 years old and I am from Germany. After almost 10 years in the financial industry, I wanted to make a career change and earn my own money.
So I quit my job and tested several business fields.
First and foremost, I want to help young people graduate from university and start their careers. That’s why I founded Absolventen-Schmiede, which helps students write their theses. Later I started other companies in the education sector, which is why I call myself an edu-tech entrepreneur. Currently, I live in Cyprus and enjoy my free life while Xolo covers my back.
How did you decide to start running your own business?
André: I always wanted to be self-employed, and even as a child I always had something that I just bought or sold to supplement my pocket money.
For lack of good ideas, I went into investment banking to earn money. I just realized very quickly that after the financial crisis the party was over and salaries remained relatively low.
After working for two years without a break and still being passed over for a promotion, I decided I needed a change of direction. I realized that something had to change when I first started traveling with digital nomads in 2016.
What led you to specialize in offering writing services, and what do you find most fulfilling about this particular area of entrepreneurship?
André: In my family there is a long tradition of being a teacher. My great-grandfather was a teacher, my grandfather and grandmother were teachers, and my mother still works as a teacher. I myself never wanted to become a teacher, but the education sector has always been very important to me.
Then at university I saw how poorly students are looked after. There I realized a need for private providers who support writing with coaching, text drafting or editing.
I find it particularly challenging that each of our clients’ research projects are quite different. Each time, we have to familiarize ourselves anew with topics that we haven’t worked on before. I can truly say that I learn something new every day, and that’s really satisfying.
What do you find most rewarding and fulfilling about running your own business, and what keeps you motivated?
André: I personally love the daily challenge and creative work. As an entrepreneur, I have to develop a deep understanding in all areas of my business. This can sometimes also be very exhausting and painful, because working on technical details and automation is not always crowned with success. When it finally works out, the joy is great, of course!
We have now become a platform for scientific writing that helps many people. What makes me especially happy is working with our freelancers and clients.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about freelancing and entrepreneurship, and how would you debunk them based on your experience?
André: I think that many people have developed the necessary talents and skills to live and work freely. It takes some courage, that’s true, but with the right partners by your side, you can focus on the essentials. Many people in Germany are afraid of all the bookkeeping and “paperwork”. This is obviously annoying but should not stop anyone from realizing their dreams.
Of course, entrepreneurship doesn’t just offer endless fun. It is really exhausting and demanding. I’m also not a big fan of experiments and prefer to prepare everything thoroughly. This approach has helped me a lot and prevented many problems. But I also know many examples of successful entrepreneurs who didn’t need three years of preparation but simply quit their jobs overnight. Everyone has to find the best way for themselves.
How has e-residency played a role in supporting and benefiting your business, and what specific advantages or opportunities has it provided?
André: I was a big fan of the Estonian solution from the beginning.
Through e-residency, I was able to set up a European corporation very easily, which also allowed me to provide services to clients in the European Parliament without any problems. The OÜ is very well recognized internationally and I never had any problems.
The flexible setup allows my family and me to travel and prevent unnecessary complexity. After all, Germany in particular is known for its sprawling bureaucracy and the precision of its processes. I didn’t notice that Estonia was less accurate in any direction, even though the administrative processes take only a fraction of the time I would have had to spend in Germany. The transparency and high level of digitalization in Estonia is very impressive.
What tools do you utilize to manage your business effectively?
André: I started working with Xolo right after the foundation of OÜ and was overwhelmed by the service from the first day. Our company has existed for over four years and I can’t count how many times Kristina, our angel from Xolo, has saved me (*shoutout to Kristina!*). No matter how difficult or complicated the situation was, she always gave us competent advice and together we were able to find the best solution for the company.
Today we work with many freelancers to whom we recommend Xolo Go for billing. Especially for the start as a freelancer, there is no better and simpler solution in my opinion.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering embarking on the journey of solo entrepreneurship?
André: Sign up, get started and never give up — that’s it!