A few months ago, I met with Philip Petersen, who was hired by Instafreight through Taledo, to build and lead their sales team. Instafreight is an online B2B logistics company facilitating the transport of goods between businesses. On a rainy spring day in Berlin, Philip welcomed me in the lobby of Rocket Tower. We caught up over coffee on one of the top floors with a beautiful view of Berlin, while Philip shared how his new role was going.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
“My parents cared most about education, other than that, they gave me a lot of freedom.”
Philip was raised in an academic household where the value of education was of highest importance. At 16 years old, he moved to the United States for one year of high school. Upon graduating high school, he went straight to New Zealand to work and travel for a gap year before heading to university. Having surfed a lot in New Zealand, he decided to apply to a coastal university in England, although it turned out that nobody in Portsmouth surfed at all. However, the University of Portsmouth was a great choice for Philip because it was rather easy for him to do well. He excelled because “no one else cared and I did.” After graduation, he continued to satisfy his wanderlust, traveling China and Peru for months, until settling in Madrid for a Master’s program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and then working at Google in Dublin for almost three years.
Philip highlighted the contrast between his early upbringing and the path he chose for himself as an adult. Raised to be social, emotional, and empathetic, he had many close friendships that shaped his early beginnings. However, choosing to study economics and business, and playing poker for years, Philip learned to be much more rational and data-driven in his approach. The varied experiences allowed him to hone both his people and sales skills, and his time at Google became the ultimate launching pad for his career.
What does Instafreight do?
Instafreight is a business-to-business logistics service. If Zalando needs to ship 500 boxes of shoes from one warehouse in Munich to another in Berlin, Instafreight facilitates the transportation. However, the company doesn’t just operate internally within one business, but between businesses as well. They are distinguished from their competitors because of the click-and-buy service, which has revolutionized the logistics industry. As an online freight forwarding company, they can provide quotes and services in one click. Traditional competitors must be called to negotiate contracts and arrange transport details, making Instafreight simple and seamless.
Why did you choose Instafreight?
“I came to Berlin to start my own business. I was talking to a friend, the COO of Taledo, who gave me the valuable advice that before starting my own company, I should gain more experience in the startup scene.”
Having lived in Berlin for 2-3 months, Philip was working on some freelance projects which paid very well, but were not sustainable for the long-term. To determine his own market value and discover some of the other options available, Philip began interviewing and networking within Berlin’s tech scene. While freelance work paid well, he decided that a new professional challenge was more interesting than money, and took the advice of Taledo’s COO, Mengühan, to gain more exposure in a startup.
As soon as Philip landed the interview with Instafreight, he researched the market and found it fascinating. Philip told me that there is a lot of hype in the world of logistics right now because it is one of the top industries primed for digitization, which makes it an exciting time for Instafreight.
Philip explained that the industry was “so hot” because of the inefficiencies inherent in the arrangement of transportation. He gave the example of Uber; no one makes phone calls for taxis anymore, and it should be just the same for logistics. According to Philip, Instafreight is even better than Uber because freight can be consolidated. Using big data analysis and machine learning, they can quickly identify which vehicles and routes are available with the highest level of efficiency.
There were three main factors instrumental in Philip’s decision to work at Instafreight:
- The founding team’s intelligence and vision, and the strong cultural fit.
- The hype of the industry.
- The opportunity to build and lead a team.
Philip was impressed by the founding team’s ardence and how they discussed the market of logistics with him. He described the management team as “bright people making great decisions.” In addition to the growing trend of digitizing logistics, Philip was most excited to manage a motivated team and problem-solve.
What do you like most about working at Instafreight?
“A sense of ownership - Instafreight is our baby. Everyone stays late, everyone is committed to the mission. Big passion and bigger hearts.”
What makes Instafreight a unique place to work and why should candidates apply to you?
“I think what makes it quite unique is that you have a lot of people my age or younger, who bring passion, fire, and motivation, combined with the wealth of experience that Rocket Internet has. Rocket provides a ton of resources and support, which creates a very professional setting within their start-ups. We have creative minds, wonderful meeting rooms, beautiful views, free drinks, and a gym – all in a startup.”
What’s the one characteristic you think is the most vital to have when working in a startup environment?
“Making decisions quickly. In order to do that, you have to understand the business and the consequences. If you have an idea of what a good decision would look like, just make it and don’t worry about it. In order to do that well consistently, you have to be very involved. I am involved in so many different areas right now just to be better equipped to make these kinds of decisions, and I’m still learning a lot because of the complexity of the logistics business. You have to make a bigger commitment to the company to have a greater sense of ownership over what you are doing. With this in mind, you just have to decide quickly and move on - don’t overthink.”
How was your experience using Taledo?
“I had an initial meeting with Mengühan to generally talk about life. He recommended I sign up on the platform, and I did. My personal Talent Manager immediately reached out with some interesting ‘Head of’ positions. Taledo contacted me regularly and told me to check out some of the companies that were interested in my profile. I could view the opportunities via email and then discuss the ones that I was interested in with my Talent Manager. When there was a match, an interview was arranged. The coolest part was that I could learn about the companies via email and research them beforehand. It didn’t waste any of my time, it was straight forward.”
How do you like Berlin?
Philip raved how easily one can meet new people here, as well as the unlimited cultural and social options. The abundance of theatres, museums, poetry slams, stand up comedy shows, international restaurants, and bars can be overwhelming. Within these options there is such a wide range of experiences or, “different cities within the city,” Philip exclaimed.“It is a sweet city. I moved here 9 months ago, and still love it.”The centrality of Berlin is also a huge plus for him - easy for traveling and close to his hometown, Hamburg. Finally, the concentration of driven professionals and various niches for jobs and hobbies offer something for everyone.
What is your top tip for job seekers in Berlin?
“Two suggestions: Check out Taledo and go to events to build connections with people. Driven professionals attend events to network and gain exposure to great companies. Get out there.”
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