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Uly Wolters

Founder & Managing Partner at dgroup

Special Focus: Business Modelling, Company Building, Digitization of Business Processes

„The only way forward is to think for yourself. If something is best practice today, it will not help you build the business of tomorrow.“

About

Can you please tell us your personal background?

I started working in strategy consulting at one of the big5 at the beginning of my career. In the time of the so-called “new economy” I co-founded, nourished and sold two internet startups (auctions and used asset marketplace). I switched to venture capital for digital companies to learn more about the other site of company building and get some deeper insight of different digital business models. After that, I became a partner in a small management consulting boutique and helped large corporations to make the first move into digital territory or helped setting up new business models (new mobile operator, new retail concept). In that period, I worked for a long time in Eastern Europe, a place that was incredible dynamic and bursting at that time. Really the sky was the limit. By a lucky instance, I stumbled upon dgroup and become a fan, lover, and partner.

What was your main decision to dedicate your life to dgroup?

When I heard that dgroup was going to set a new online venture capital fund for a corporation with a focus on CEE countries and I was asked to participate in this project, I was very excited about this idea. The concept was compelling: Bring smart capital and experience from some large scale digital business models together with my strong personal network in Eastern Europe, combine it with a wide-spread usage of mobile-internet in CEE countries, as well as extremely dynamic market environments and you will create excellent online opportunities. After helping setting up this fund and working as temporary investment manager, I was impressed by the way dgroup was conducting projects and helped building companies. A strong business focus paired with entrepreneurial spirit, a profound business sense in digital manners and in-depth knowledge of the logic of many digital models. I instantly decided that I want to become member and partner in the dgroup. And I didn’t regret this step for a second. We have built cross-country online marketing systems, private shopping clubs, category killers, invented new features for online shopping, created complex cross-channel logics, and cross-touch points customer contact systems. We brought international companies and some hidden champions online. I personally conducted digital projects in more than 10 countries. The digital universe is really diverse. And every day brings new challenges and transformation questions to be solved. Quite often board members even laugh at some of our disruptive ideas, but when they allow themselves to rethink the idea without all corporate restrictions, they often find it quite compelling. If you manage to make them think “What needs to be done to bring this idea to live?”, you can really create magic moments. The dawn of a new business model or the beginning of a long journey of digital transformation. Quite often, this ends somewhere that most deciders have not even dared to think in the beginning. These are the days when you love this job, because you feel you can change people’s and company’s life to a better future with plenty of new opportunities.

Can you please tell us your personal view on digital today?

I don’t think we can solve any of our problems without technological progress and digital transformation. Digital transformation is the eye of the cyclone. Digitalization changes every aspect of company value chains, business models, the way humans interact, the density of work, the chances to heal and deal with diseases, the inner sense of being a human being. Data is the vital fertilizer of this movement. The world gets hyper-data centric, hyper-connected, hyper-algorithmed, super-digitalized and absolutely vitreous. That in my mind, everyone has to care about digital, even if he or his business decides to stay analogue, he cannot steal himself away – he has to think about this massive change currently taking place and how it affects him. The digital transformation of the world will affect everything and everyone.

​Digitalization is changing our lives, can you please tell us your personal vision of our digital future?

It is the important issue. It’s one that’s not particularly high on the political agenda of many political leaders, but it will highly affect human being, nations, our political systems and even touch many substantial philosophical and ethical questions: How do we react to super-companies that know more about any citizen than your government? One can observe extreme capital accumulation in the hand of a few tech libertarians – that all live in a tiny area of a few square kilometers - and even share a quite homogeneous view on the world: Whereto this will lead us? Shall someone live for 500 years? Can I find a job or an insurance without being in social media in five years? All your data and all important aspects of your life are always at hand – at a fingertip. What will that do to us? I am grateful that I have the opportunity to think about how I would like the future to be, what would be my answers to these questions, and how I might influence the digital transformation of the world. So that it – eventually - might become a better place. That is the one, truly fascinating thing about the digital transformation: With everything being connected, scalable, available at fingertips – everyone and every thought can really make a difference.

Please tell us three things you would like people to remember about you?

  1. Extremely passionate.
  2. Experienced digital problem solver who creates stringent and consistent business solutions.
  3. A truly neutral business advisor that will tell me always his personal recommendation of the best solution. Even if it sounds stupid, impossible or represents the absolute minority opinion – at first place.

Posts

Digital disruption – the challenge to reinvent business models

There’s no escaping from digital transformation. Traditional retailers are facing the challenge to reinvent their business models due to changed consumer behaviour and disruptive business models led by digitization

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