Thomas Tiroch is an Austrian entrepreneur and Managing Partner at Spectrum Holding GmbH. Currently he supports, advises and funds creative start-up projects through his position at Ineo Capital, and together with his partners invests in existing companies to form a powerful and diversified international business network. He regularly mentors aspiring young entrepreneurs during startup events, while trying to assist them in taking their venture to the next level.
Thomas also co-founded Spectrum IT, the legal entity behind Adefy Marketing. Adefy is a performance marketing and brand management agency that builds entire acquisition funnels from scratch and creates custom campaigns for products and services. Spectrum IT is a member of Spectrum Holding which manages shares in companies across a wide range of industries, forming a diversified investment entity focusing on technology and renewable energy sectors. Spectrum Holding portfolio also includes:
- Oekostrom, Austria's leading provider of 100% renewable electricity.
- Flatout Technologies - develops embedded software for running "smart home" devices along with a platform for ordinary consumers to manage their devices, and developers to build applications leveraging them, and other companies.
- Clansweb, a social network targeting gamers and their unique needs.
Thomas is also a managing partner at Synto GmbH, the company with a focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and consulting.
In today’s interview Thomas Tiroch talks about his business mindset, shares interesting insights from his entrepreneurial journey and lessons learned along the way.
Magazine MN: Thomas, what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Thomas: The best way to predict the future is to create it. I want to be in the driver’s seat and navigate the waters. It seems natural to me to be involved in my own projects and companies, instead of working for others and making their visions come to life. However, I wouldn’t refuse from working on external projects provided that my visions and goals are aligned with those of the people I’m going to work with.
Within our network, we are gathering people with a slightly insane mentality, great skills and visions. At Spectrum IT we want to deliver outstanding products and services to our B2B customers. We also remain focused on internal projects that are aimed at accomplishing our long term crazy-tech missions.
At Synto GmbH we consult companies on measures of energy efficiency and renewable energy. INEO invests in high risk/high potential startups. And our coffee house Café Ministerium in the 1st district tries to keep Viennese traditions alive and serves as our daily meeting point.
Magazine MN: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Thomas: Reason from first principles rather than by analogy (Received in one of my private youtube sessions with Elon Musk). He puts it this way:
“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.”
Magazine MN: What is your attitude towards risks?
Thomas: I am not sure all of us have the same definition of risk. Why do people and why does the media talk about the risk of starting our own companies vs. being employed, or saving money in a savings bank account vs. owning stocks at a company? In fact, I would argue that owning stocks or running your own company infers a less risky approach and results in less dependence.
In general, I like to take calculated risks, but at the same time I try to stay away from suicidal moves.
Magazine MN: How do you keep yourself motivated in challenging situations?
Thomas: That’s an easy one. I am always intrinsically motivated by doing exactly what I want to do and knowing that fact that it is me who is in the driver’s seat and who can always change the situation when I feel I have to.
Magazine MN: You spent almost 5 years teaching advanced poker concepts to the online poker community and working on content development at Pokerstrategy.com. You are also a co-author of ‘The Education Of A Modern Poker Player’. What lessons can poker teach us about business, human behavior and life in general?
Thomas: A lot! We could have an entire interview about that question. Whether you are a pro tennis athlete, a pro e-sports gamer or a pro poker player, you need to outwork your competition, you need to be self reflective, while constantly improving all aspects of your game. You should focus on making smart decisions rather than on the short term outcome that might mislead you.
Society tells us that short term outcomes measure success. This might be the biggest misconception of our times. Short term outcomes are often subject to uncertainty, high deviation and unknown variables. To get greater insights on those topics I would suggest reading Taleb’s and Kahneman’s books. I am a strong believer in a self-reflection approach, rather than an approach which assumes that we need to be led by outcomes. With enough data points results do matter at a certain point. However, then you run into the question of how do you value different sets of data and what exactly is success/achievement (happiness index vs free cashflow vs gross revenue vs post money valuation vs stock price vs CO2 emissions etc.).
Magazine MN: Currently you are part of the team at such companies as Tiroch GmbH, Synto GmbH, Spectrum IT Solutions GmbH and INEO Beteiligungs GmbH. What entrepreneurial hacks have you developed to stay focused and productive?
Thomas: I am lucky to have great teams around, otherwise things wouldn’t work so smoothly. Personally, I have a very structured approach and I try to be very focused. Since I am involved in various companies, my focus shifts regularly, but once I am on a task, I try not to mix it with anything else for a specific time period. However, at the same time I am available 24/7 and, in case of urgent tasks, I do jump around if necessary. Also, I try to avoid time wasting processes and I get rid of things that don’t add value fairly quickly.
Magazine MN: You also help your parents to run Café-Restaurant Ministerium which is located in the first district at the famous “Ringstraße” in Vienna. What, in your opinion, are critical success factors for the restaurant business?
Thomas: The guest is the king. Everything else derives from that principle. For a traditional Viennese Coffeehouse these days, it is important to keep the cultural aspects alive, while not neglecting modern trends. Offering services like free wi fi or a modern, big and friendly “Schanigarten”, as well as using green energy, being energy efficient, or using fair trade and organic products is necessary.
Magazine MN: What is your best advice for first-time entrepreneurs?
Thomas: A few personal thoughts. Just do not take them too seriously as they work for me, but they might not work for someone else.
- We have absolutely no idea what we are getting ourselves into. Once we start running a business, we still have no idea what we are doing. It’s a constant learning process.
- Forget buzz terms like work-life balance. If you want to own an industry with your company, you need to give everything you have. You won’t be able to achieve that with a 4 hour work week (of course, you can still manage to make some time to read the book). It doesn’t mean you won’t be happy. If this is what you want to do, then it will be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. It seems to me that there are several stages of life, and we don’t even want to achieve full balance. During school period we often want to be more into parties, not so much into studying. At one point we might want to focus most of our attention to our family and spend time with them. And then there might be periods where we focus most of our energy in building new projects. Another thing that I don’t understand in the terminology “work-life balance” is the fact that it implies those two different things. In fact, we should probably call it a life-balance. And I agree that everybody has to find his or her own way of being in sync with him/herself and the entire environment the person lives in.
- Don’t get trapped in socializing with other startup enthusiasts for the sake of socializing or networking. Focus on yourself/your company and grind it out. Of course, it helps to get inspired by others occasionally, but don’t overdo it.
- Get shit done. Just do it. I have a feeling that we tend to talk too much and do too little. Execution is the tough and important part. Talking and having ideas, including world changing ones, is easy.
- Develop your ultimate work ethics. Outwork everybody else, every day. It is put well into one of Will Smith’s statements:
I never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guys are sleeping – I’m working. While the other guys are eating – I’m working.
- It is ok to make mistakes. Make many, learn from them and move on. But never break your word. Never. Be reliable. Always be loyal.
Good luck and all the best to all the crazy folks out there who run their own project, company or startup.
Let me end our interview with two quotes by people who are way smarter:
“To think is easy, to act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult” – J.W.Goethe
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain
Thomas Tiroch was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska
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