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Struggle in the world of startups

Chemnitz University graduate Tom Apel sought and found his luck with Chemnitz know-how in Silicon Valley near San Francisco

“Moving to the States was the best decision I could have made”, says Tom Apel. The graduate of Chemnitz University of Technology is currently working as a Marketing Manager of a well-known online marketplace for craftsmen and cleaning staff. For Apel, born in the city of Halle, it was a long journey of hard work before he set sailsto the United States of America in February 2016. He started his academic career as a student of business administration at the University of Tübingen. But, the significant foundation stone for his marketing career was laid at the Chemnitz University of Technology. Here, Apel studied customer relationship management in a master program from 2012 till 2014. “It was important for me to deepen and increase my knowledge in marketing with a technology-oriented master program. This specialization is only offered at the Chemnitz University”, explains Tom Apel his reasons for this decision.

Even before Apel had finished his master thesis, Apel had already moved to Berlin to work for a start-up company specializing in trade advertising. When he finished his studies, he deciced to still remain in this young company, where he took over the responsibility to influence the marketing strategy. “During the development of the mobile CRM division, I was in the position to put my acquiredknowledge into practice”, says Apel. The lectures of Prof. Gluchowski, Head of the Professorship of Business Information Systems II, remained distinctly in his memory. The insight gained from the professor, that “all marketing decisions should be based on data”, is still helpful for him as a Marketing Manager. He, then contributed his knowledge to two other startups before moving to the USA.

The bold but still promising decision to settle down in the West Coast was luckily no decision he had to face alone: “Together with my wife Aimee, who originally comes from San Francisco and is also an alumnus of Chemnitz University, we decided to look for a new adventure after two years together in Berlin”, he recounts. The factor of luck also played a significant role in Tom Apel’s career path: “Only one month after my arrival, I was fortunate enough to start working as a Marketing Analyst in a well-known mattress start-up .Within a year I was  promoted  to Head of Digital Marketing.” Despite this good starting position, Apel had to prove himself in the tough world of startups.. Without his  iron will and zealous work, he would have never been successful.

During the first year in the United States, the Chemnitz University graduate already realized that the strategies of startup companies in America strongly differ to those in Germany. “You have to think big right from the very beginning. Only after two and a half years my former employer already took a step onto the stock market. That is completely crazy!”, points out Apel and adds: “In order to achieve something in the States, rapid growth in combination with extensive investments are prerequisites.” Furthermore, he appreciates the services provided by the companies to maintain a high level of working atmosphere and to lure the most talented people into the Silicon Valley. This mainly includes self-improvement courses, monthly massages, as well as free lunch and beverages. Moreover  there is a relaxed handling of manager-employee relationship. “In general, the companies have realized that only a motivated team can guarantee the sustainable success of a company”, explains Tom Apel and adds: “Last but not the least, a broad network of contacts and a good reputation are the basic elements for a successful careerThis is the reason, why Apel decided to participate more strongly in the alumni network of the Chemnitz University. Following the slogan: Contacts only harm those, who does not have them.

Matthias Fejes

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