Savvy Talks with Jens Nolden
Founder & Managing Partner, Technology Return
What was your first job ever? What did you learn from it?
My first job after my studies was at a newly founded B2B telecommunications provider that was owned by a German utilities holding. 2 years after the foundation of the company the decision was made to sell this entity and I switched from controlling to M&A. I learned how a transaction process has to be prepared and executed. The training was very hands-on and practical, without much theory.
What is the best advice you ever got?
The best advice I got was to step into venture capital after my first M&A experiences.
I met many successful entrepreneurs who are still building companies but venture capital was still new in Europe and we had to learn from Silicon Valley how to build a venture framework. A lot of the business models we saw back then did not work out during the
dot-com bubble but a couple of years later with the advent of mobile devices and smartphones which are today´s most important communication tools.
What are your personal rules for success?
Take your time. Have an unalterable identity. Show emotion and embrace happiness. Grow. Make an impact.
What is your best habit and what is your worst?
Habits are either the best servant or the worst master. When you master your habits, you become an effective leader. Habits that master you become your addictions. Starting early to recognize your addictive patterns can give you a head start on building the framework to increase engagement, empower others and grow. A habit I have mastered: Dominating conversations. A habit I have not mastered: Finding excuses.
Which (living or deceased) person would you like to have dinner with?
I would love to have a private dinner with Barack Obama to hear his personal and unfiltered view about the current state of the world and the major problem of a society drifting apart. This drift is amplified by new powerful communication channels which mainstream politics do not know how to deal with.
Who is your favorite artist?
My favorite artist is Emil Nolde, a German-Danish painter of the early 20th century. Not only because of the similarity in our names, but because of his expressive body of work and his exploration of colors. In 1942, Nolde wrote: ”There is silver blue, sky blue and thunder blue. Every color holds within it a soul, which makes me happy or repels me and which acts as a stimulus. To a person who has no art in him, colors are colors, tones tones … and that is all. All their consequences for the human spirit, which range between heaven to hell, just go unnoticed.”
What is your favorite book?
“The Book of Beautiful Business”. In a world where everything can be done more efficiently by machines, being human becomes the ultimate differentiator. The book brings together more than 40 authors, consultants, leaders, founders, technologists, artists, philosophers and scientists to share their vision for a liveable and positive future that is build on technology, society and humanity.
Please describe the year 2019 with three words.
New private experience.
In which field(s) would you like to see more innovation in 2020 and beyond?
Education technologies for lifelong-learning - making this accessible to the broad society and motivate and empower people to cope with the new challenges.
What are your goals in 2020?
Always the same goals … starting with a retreat early in the new year and gathering power for the things to come.
Technology Return is a mid-cap corporate finance and investment advisory boutique, advising entrepreneurs and SMEs on M&A mandates exclusively in the digital and technology industry. #TechReturn is dedicated to generate return on technology investments for corporate, venture capital, private equity and family office clients. The company has closed notable TMT transactions in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, e-commerce, SaaS, platform industry, digital marketing and social media.