Skyping in from a cosy, wood-furnished attic, Claus Jungblut looked upbeat and excited. Having recently participated in the EIT Digital Alumni #StartupContest2020 on behalf of DocEverywhere, he settled down to tell us about the journey that got him there.
Claus & Mom working from home
The Makings of an Entrepreneur
It took some patient listening for me to get the full picture as Claus explained his background to me. “I grew up in Freiburg and studied in Karlsruhe, before pursuing Business Informatics in Villingen-Schwenningen,” he recounts. The three cities are all located in South-East Germany. After his studies, he moved to Hamburg to work for EY.
“My first week at EY, they assigned me to a client who thought I was an old German guy because of my name. The senior consultant didn’t show up so I had to take charge. I got thrown into the deep end but I took up the challenge. As a consultant you have to put yourself forward. Sell yourself.”
It didn’t take long for Claus to move again, however. “After working for a big corporation, I felt the urge to do something different. I wanted to travel,” he explained. His journey took him to South America and Asia, before finally arriving back in Europe.
That was when he first came in contact with EIT Digital - through the Data Science Master’s programme. With an additional internship under his belt, Claus considered his options - one of them was a PhD in Cologne, but instead he decided to move again.
Claus at the EIT Digital Summer School 2019 in Lisbon
“I was offered a position as a data consultant for a Dutch company in Colombia, so I grabbed the opportunity,” he recalls fondly. Indeed, being mobile seems almost the second nature to Claus. “I’m always travelling,” he laughs.
“I love the sun and the sea, and I’ve always been into sports. My parents have never travelled much - but when I went myself for the first time I got addicted. I realised there’s so much to learn about the world: culture, politics and much more.”
Founding a Start-up
By that time, he had been steadily building up experience. “I’ve worked as a freelancer, and as an employee in start-ups and in big international companies,” he says. “Now I realise I want to work for myself to bring the ideas from my head into reality.”
“I really want to get to the next level. If you work for someone else you’re always limited in some way.” That’s when Claus founded DocEverywhere, a website that provides travellers around the world with a directory of doctors according to the language(s) they speak.
Search for a doctor who speaks your language - anywhere in the world
“When I was doing my EIT Digital Master’s in Madrid, I got sick and couldn’t find an English-speaking doctor. That was a very unpleasant experience. The same thing happened to me the year after in Nice, and so I started asking myself: Why is this information not available, even in big cities with lots of tourists?”
“That’s when I realised there’s a problem to solve,” says Claus, explaining his motivation, clearly influenced by his background in travelling. “There’s nothing more important to humans than their health. Of course, there is always Google Translate, but there are nuances in communication that makes AI translations sometimes unsuitable.”
“It’s for all travellers - business, expats, Erasmus, refugees, backpackers,” he continues. “I hope to build a strong global brand for healthcare - a sort of middleman for connecting people to healthcare. A global platform for all kinds of information and services.”
Growing the Business
Listening to Claus reflect on his own journey, it’s clear that the spirit of travelling permeates all aspects of his life. “I want to give other people the chance to live a professional nomadic lifestyle like I do. Talented people nowadays like this. Money is not everything - freedom is.”
The freedom of working by the pool!
“I hire freelancers to help me: a developer, a researcher and someone for data entry - they all work remotely. I use my own salary to fund this. In the future I want to get a real, remote team. First get investment, or use profits from my other companies to fund DocEverywhere.”
“I think Uber and Airbnb made technology central to business. It’s now so easy to start. I use the cloud for storage, Facebook or Google ads for marketing. There is so much available for free. Amazon provides free platforms for webshops. With lots of free resources available, no overly technical skills are needed. Everything is intuitive, optimised, automated.”
But what about the risk of starting a business? “Personal risk - time and financial investment - is not a risk because it’s all good experience for me. I try to retain people by not making money the focus of DocEverywhere. I motivate people by doing good.”
With all this experience behind him, I asked Claus if he had any advice for the EIT Digital alumni community. “If you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work,” he muses. “If you have a vision, it doesn’t matter if you’re putting in a lot of hours and not making much money. It feels completely different to be working for my own vision.”
Claus in Colombia
“Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but it helps a lot to have experience. As a former consultant I’ve seen 50-60 companies, met so many people, also in EIT. I failed so often, so I’ve learnt to avoid them. It also comes down to motivation and ideas.”
“What I think is important to say is: to all people considering living in another country, just try it. Don’t listen too much to others. You have nothing to lose. It doesn’t matter if the university is worse than at home. Don’t be scared. Give it a try. If you don’t like it you can move on but it will be a good experience anyway. A lot of people are still scared of trying stuff. If you try something you always learn.”
DocEverywhere is a participant of the EIT Digital Alumni Startup Contest 2020. Watch Claus’ contest pitch.