Sabine Irrgang, Co-Founder Gofresh & One of Top 50 Women in Mobile Content: My Tips for Entrepreneurs
The NextWomen DWEN Interview series kicks off in fabulous style with Sabine Irrgang, COO and Co-Founder of mobile social media specialist Gofresh and one of Mobile Entertainment Magazine's “Top 50 Women in Mobile Content Worldwide”.
Gofresh owns the brand “itsmy” which develops and distributes HTML5 social games for touchscreen devices and mobile web worldwide. Gofresh also publishes books with a special focus on how social media and new technologies changed our generation and influence our future, such as the recently published “Social Network Photography” the first book about profile pictures in social networks around the world. Sabine manages Gofresh’s worldwide partnerships and the newly established social media book publishing business.
Before co-founding Gofresh with her two partners in Munich, Germany, in 2003, Sabine worked as international Mobile Product Manager at iobox, a Telefónica company, where she launched the first mobile info- and content channels in Germany with international music and entertainment stars, well-known publishing houses and Bundesliga football clubs.
We spoke to Sabine about the challenges of being an entrepreneur, the importance of all-women networks and her tips for female founders looking for investment.
SI: My two business partners and I thought about working with a medium with a great future and a lot of possibilities to develop new products. That’s why we started with mobile internet in 2003, when there wasn’t any mobile internet, no products, no business cases.
TNW: How important is technology to the success of your company? How do you stay abreast of technological developments in the mobile arena? How do you imagine people will be using mobile technology in ten years?
SI: New technology is the important driver, however we are selling entertainment to our customers. The secret is to figure out what the customers want, develop a creative, sticky product and use the best technology for it.
In ten years the use of mobile technology and mobile devices will be ubiquitous. There will be new software and hardware developments for all parts of our daily business- and private life. This will change how and where we work as well as the way we interact with each other.
TNW: Mobile social is a fast changing market. How do you stay ahead of the changing trends and requirements of your target market?
SI: You have to be curious, attentive and open for the latest trends, for new technologies - every day anew. In addition: Motivated and qualified personnel is essential.
In the entertainment business you must use and love the products you develop. And have enough creative power to think things new again and again.
TNW: Who were your first customers and how hard was it to attract them? Who are your customers and partners now?
SI: In the beginning we worked a lot with international mobile operators/carriers. It was sometimes difficult to convince them of our new products and services. But the success with the consumers/their customers was always the door-opener for more projects and services.
Today we are working more direct-to-consumer. The consumer can more easily be convinced if you have an outstanding new, easy-to-use and cool product.
TNW: How did you raise investment for Gofresh? Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their business?
SI: We are self-funded but have been contacted by many VCs, M&A people etc over the last years and we have a couple of international business deals.
My advice for female entrepreneurs looking to raise funds: Stop giggling, but don’t forget to show the passion for your business. Be better prepared than anyone else in the room.
And: don’t forget that you know many people with experience in all kinds of business aspects – ask them! Most people are happy to share experiences.
TNW: Which aspects of your company make you most proud?
SI: I’m proud to be one of the Managing Partners of a mobile company in its 9th year. We’ve seen many coming and going. And I am very grateful for the fantastic people around me.
TNW: What has been your biggest challenge throughout the history of your company, from planning to funding and execution, and how could others learn from it?
SI: Being an entrepreneur is a steady challenge.
Be attentive, but don’t let yourself get distracted from your goal by too many “Ifs” and “Whens”. Don’t wait too long before taking a decision – most times a bad decision is better than no decision at all.
TNW: What is next for Gofresh? How do you see technology as a key growth driver?
SI: For the first time new cross-device technology like HTML5 gives us the opportunity to develop a new generation of games for everyone and every device. Without developments in technology this would not be possible.
TNW: How has Dell or the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network enabled you to grow your business? What do you see as the benefits of all-women networks such as DWEN?
SI: All-women networks are great. The way I see it, women are more open and ready to share their success- but also their critical failure-stories than men. And you see that all of them, independent from the size of the company or the business case, have quite similar challenges to solve. DWEN gave me the opportunity to learn more about international business and women in business. Meeting the DWEN women always gives me a boost and many new ideas for my personal advancement and the future of our company.
TNW: Do you have a motto which sums up your approach to business, and to life?
I’m not a motto person. I believe in sincerity and sustainability. And gratefulness for all the good things which happen to me in life.
TNW: Is there anything we haven’t asked you, but you’d like to share with our readers?
SI: As an entrepreneur you are always busy doing things, meeting people, trying to co-ordinate your private and business life.
Take a 5 minute break every day and ask yourself two questions: Does what you are doing today help grow your business? Do you still like what you do? If the answers are yes, go for it and believe in yourself, your team and your business.
The Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) celebrates the wonderful accomplishments of women in business, whilst looking forward at how we can progress and learn from each other. Natural networkers and relationship builders, women have innate flair for entrepreneurship. With DWEN, Dell is helping women in business to expand their networks while offering technology capabilities designed to help them innovate and grow their businesses.
The NextWomen is in partnership with DWEN to bring you a series of 40 interviews with the world's most influential female founders, investors and decision makers: The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series.
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