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Inside Xentral: Unveiling Startup Success with Sequoia and Tiger Global



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This blog post first appeared first on old medium publication (https://medium.com/startuprad-io), and was moved to this blog with the relaunch of our website in summer 2024.

Executive Summary

In this in-depth episode of Startuprad.io, host Jörn “Joe” Menninger chats with Domenico Cipolla, CEO of Xentral, about his professional journey and the evolution of Xentral. Cipolla discusses his unique background, the importance of execution in business, and how Xentral serves SMEs with ERP solutions. He also shares insights on leadership, mistakes as learning opportunities, and the company’s growth plans, including hiring for cultural fit. They touch on Cipolla’s past roles and his ambitions for Xentral, underlining his belief in data-driven decisions and setting a clear vision for success.


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“… you really need to hire people that are in any position that they are in, that they will be able to do the job better than you do it. If you think that you can do the job better than they do it, then they are wrong then maybe you are, how do you say it, you are unrealistic or they are the wrong people.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

Introduction


Welcome back to Startuprad.io, where we dive deep into the dynamic world of startups and innovation. I’m your host, Jörn “Joe” Menninger, and today we’re bringing you a conversation that’s well worth the extra runtime — in fact, it’s double our usual length.


Joining us in this exclusive interview is Domenico Cipolla, the charismatic CEO of Xentral — an ERP powerhouse transforming the landscape for German SMEs. From his small-town roots near Kiel, with Italian heritage and a childhood immersed in the family’s pizzeria, Domenico takes us on a journey through his football-playing days to the wisdom-laden halls of academia, where he attended prestigious institutions across Europe and North America.


With a candid openness, Domenico reveals the philosophy that guides his leadership at Xentral — prioritizing learning from mistakes, promoting accountability, and nurturing a culture where execution meets data-driven strategy. We uncover the nuts and bolts of Xentral’s business model, tailored for the specific needs of companies handling physical products, and witness the company’s objective to improve processes and achieve customer satisfaction before eyeing international expansion.


Armed with a deep-rooted belief that CEOs should not only set the vision but also foster the right environment for talent to thrive, Domenico shares anecdotes from his vast experience, spanning consulting at BCG to scaling e-commerce platforms and navigating the venture capital scene. He gives us an inside look at his role and alignment with co-CEO Bina, how Xentral got back on track after a period of hyper growth, and the ambitious plans for team expansion.


So buckle up as we explore how this leader integrates his rich background into steering Xentral towards an exciting future, how a commitment to culture and the right attitude can make all the difference in hiring, and why there’s both a challenge and humor in the quest for the thousands of potential clients yet to be reached.


Stay tuned for a podcast episode that’s as insightful as it is rich with humor and humanity — this is Startuprad.io.


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“You need to make sure that there are certain parameters and boundary conditions that people are are aware of, which they know, you know, what these are these are basically lines that cannot be crossed.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

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“And I think that’s an incredibly sort of complimentary and fruitful sort of cooperation. I think it wouldn’t work for founders to sort of, you know, to transition and hand over some of the responsibility if there wouldn’t be enormous amount of trust.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

Questions Discussed in the Interview

  1. What initially drew Domenico Cipolla to the role of co-CEO at Xentral, and how did his previous experiences prepare him for this challenge?

  2. Can Domenico share some of the early hurdles he faced when he stepped into his leadership role at Xentral and how he navigated these challenges?

  3. In discussing the importance of learning from mistakes, could Domenico provide an example of a mistake that Xentral made and how the team turned it into a learning opportunity?

  4. How does Domenico maintain the balance between focusing on process improvement and customer satisfaction while preparing Xentral for international expansion?

  5. Reflecting on Xentral’s hiring process, what specific traits does Domenico look for in potential hires to ensure cultural fit and the right attitude?

  6. With 2,000 clients already among German SMEs, what strategies does Domenico envision employing to target and capture more of the market share?

  7. How has Domenico’s multicultural background and varied educational experiences shaped his leadership style and vision for Xentral?

  8. What does Domenico believe are the key attributes that separate an effective CEO from an average one, based on his execution-focused philosophy?

  9. How does the collaborative dynamic between Domenico and Bina, the other co-CEO, contribute to Xentral’s success, and how do they resolve differences in opinion?

  10. Could Domenico share some insights on the strategic direction Xentral is planning to take in the coming years, keeping in mind the ever-evolving landscape of ERP solutions for trading companies?

“I’m still a full-time partner at Freigeist, but I’m also full-time Co-CEO at Xentral. And, yeah, couldn’t be happier.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

The Video Podcast is set to go live on Thursday, March 13th, 2024

The podcast is available early to the members of our YouTube channel.



Scaling Business Challenges: “Running a company with 20 people or running a company with 200 people, those are just 2 different, completely different animals.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

The Audio Podcast is set to go live on Thursday, March 13th, 2024

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“as the COO for an e-commerce company that grows 20, 30, 40 percent month over month, Joe, The only time people speak to you is when things are not working.” — Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral

The Executive


Domenico Cipolla’s (https://www.linkedin.com/in/domenicocipolla/) entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at an early age, immersed in his family’s venture into gastronomy in the cozy setting of 1977 Germany. A son of innovative restaurateurs, his parents had wisely transitioned from exclusively selling ice cream to integrating a pizzeria to adapt to the chilly northern German climate — a move emblematic of the future CEO’s knack for business agility.


Growing up under the influence of a family business, Domenico learned the ropes of customer service, adaptability, and hard work. His childhood, marked by a nurturing family and a secure environment, provided a solid foundation for his personal and professional growth. The steering values of a tight-knit community, good education, and a loving home became the guiding principles that shaped Domenico into the leader he is today.


Now at the helm of Xentral, a position that requires both a visionary outlook and practical decision-making, Domenico Cipolla leads with a blend of the warmth of a family business’s charm and the strategic foresight of a tech entrepreneur. His unique upbringing, encapsulated by the successful pivot from ice cream to pizza, serves as a reminder of the importance of flexibility and innovation in business — a lesson he now applies in his role as CEO to steer Xentral forward.


The Startup


Xentral is a dynamic German startup (https://xentral.com/) that has carved a niche for itself in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market, particularly catering to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the German Mittelstand. Founded by entrepreneurs Benedikt Sauter and Claudia Sauter as a side project while dealing with electronic components, Xentral has evolved into a fully-fledged ERP solution provider, supporting trading companies in streamlining their backend operations. The company has garnered attention not only for its specialized service offering but also for its strong growth trajectory and a customer base that spans around 2,000 clients. Xentral stands out in the crowded ERP market with its focus on trading companies that have physical goods in warehouses, such as e-commerce, food and beverage, fashion, and home and garden sectors.


What truly sets Xentral apart from its competitors is its targeted approach and deep understanding of the unique needs of the German Mittelstands’ back-office operations. This resonates well with companies looking for tailored ERP solutions without the complexity often associated with large-scale ERP systems. Xentral’s commitment to improving customer processes and satisfaction shines through as a core company value, a sentiment that precedes its strategic plans for international expansion in the upcoming year. From a funding perspective, Xentral has successfully attracted significant investment from major players, including Tiger Global Management, Visionaries Club, Sequoia Capital, Freigeist, and HubSpot Ventures. This solid financial backing underscores the confidence investors have in Xentral’s potential and its capacity to revamp the way SMEs handle their operations. Through its impressive fund-raisings and a clear vision for future growth, Xentral distinguishes itself by demonstrating a sustainable and customer-centric approach in a fast-paced, risk-taking environment.


Venture Capital Funding


Xentral calls amongst its investors Visionaries Club, Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital, s16vc, Meritech Capital Partners, as well as Freigeist Capital. They do not require capital, but you can reach out to us for an introduction.


Hiring!


Xentral is well funded and growing strongly they are looking for talent to join their company:


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The Interviewer


This interview was conducted by Jörn “Joe” Menninger, startup scout, founder, and host of Startuprad.io. Reach out to him:


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Automated Transcript


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:00:00]:Hello, and welcome, everybody. This is Joe from Startupradio dot io, your start up podcast YouTube blog and Internet radio station from Germany. Today, I do have the CEO of another German software company here with me. Hey, Dominika. How are you doing today?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:00:17]:I’m amazing, Joe. How are you?


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:00:19]:I’m doing great, and we may tell our audience. Most people would just listen to this interview, but we may tell those people, they can already tell from your background it’s dark outside. We’ve been pretty late for the recording, but nonetheless, we will do our best because for me, it’s the last appointment of today. So we are doing good. As people already can tell,


Domenico, you are an Italian guy and you grew up in Kiel, which is the most most northern city in Germany. So it’s almost Denmark. How was


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:00:54]:it? Well, it’s actually not not so a couple of correct. It’s actually not completely true. I think the most northern city in in Germany is probably Fintech. Joe. So that’s another another 45 minutes up, up north. So I don’t I don’t wanna I don’t wanna sort of forget them. And secondly, actually, you’re right. I’m Italian, but I’ve actually, taken on the German nationality about 2 years ago, I think, a year and a half ago or something.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:01:15]:So I’ve resisted for 41, 42 years or something, but, I took on the German nationality as well. Can discuss that later, for the reasons and so on. How was it? Look, I grew up in a super small town, close to close to Peel. Actually, half an hour close to Peel. So the the next closest city is where actually Srivijnsburg. 5,000 people, very rural. My parents open up, so I have a typical migration background. So my parents open up an ice cream place.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:01:43]:There in 1977 or something, so 1977, 1978, selling ice cream to Germans. Realized pretty quickly that, Germans don’t eat a lot of ice cream when it’s cold. So they also bought bought a pizza oven and, and pivoted as we say at the tech in the tech world, pivoted from an ice cream place to a pizzeria and ice ice cream place. And, yeah. So grew up in that in that family business, super super, influential on on on myself and my my later sort of development and career as well. And, yeah, how do it how did I grow up? You know, especially nowadays when you see kids in big cities and all of these perils that there are there and risk and everybody’s concerned and so on, probably had the best childhood that anybody could, could imagine. No. So, like, super protected, good school, loving parents.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:02:35]:Joe you couldn’t you know, basically, back then, the rule was, you know, when the lights go on, and it gets dark, then you get home, and nobody was concerned about children’s child safety or anything like that. So super, super happy childhood.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:02:49]:Sounds pretty good. And I also know that you did the thing that Germany and Italians have in common, which is also usually pretty divisive, played football?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:03:02]:Yeah. So I I I think I I started doing lots of sports when I was younger. You know, I I played tennis back, in Northern Germany. Everybody plays handball, so I played handball for quite a long time actually as well. I did some judo, but football was the one that, that I that I stuck with, and, played football. So in my hometown is Kopp, so nobody’s gonna know that. But, you know, played there. Then moved over to Schleswig, which was sort of the next big city, played in close to Rheinsberg as well.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:03:29]:But basically, my my my peak of my professional career is actually not completely true, but was with Holstein Kiel. So I played in in Holstein with Holstein Kiel for a couple of years. And, yeah, so that was the highest, league in the in the in the youth back then, so which was the. So I played against teams like Hass Pfau and Sao Paulo and Verbrae and Hannover and and and so on. And, as a matter of fact, if I remember correctly, I was actually sold from Holstein here to when I when I went to the seniors for 1,500, I think it must have been Deutsche Marks. Joe? So $1,500 to the next club and stayed there for another year. So that was my final year in school before I was gonna move, move away. And then the year after, so after that final that final year of that final year back at home, I was actually sold for 4,000 Deutschmarks, to the next club.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:04:22]:So they made a, they made a good return on on me. In that next club, I don’t think that that was a good investment for them. So the 4,000 Deutsche Marks that they paid for me because I I hardly played. You know, I started working. I had other things in mind. So, not not sure if they were incredibly happy with their investment. But, yeah, I had a I had a I had a good time in in in Holstein and so on, and I played quite intensely actually until I was sort of 30, 32, 33, and then sort of, you know, injuries and other priorities and so on. So I I I stopped doing that, but I I played football for a long time

Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:04:53]:now. Mhmm. And and there’s a very deep question here. You don’t need to answer, but if Germany plays Italy in a venture, what what’s the team?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:05:03]:That’s an easy one. So I just said before, you know, I took on the German nationality, but, and you need to give to let me give the explanation of for my answers Joe that people don’t hate me. But basically, when when, I have 2 teams that I support, you know, this going to make me really, really unpopular with your listeners. I have 2 teams that I support. I support, Italy and whoever plays against Germany. Joe. So so so and and the reasoning for that is, you know, if you grow if you grow up in a small village in Northern Germany and you are literally the only Italian around for 50 kilometers, and Italy wasn’t Menninger particularly well back then, if Italy were was going to lose, next day in school, people were gonna make hell. So they were gonna pick on you.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:05:50]:They were gonna make fun of you and so on. So my my natural defense mechanism is, was to hope that Germany was gonna do at least war. So, yeah, not not as good as Italy, so worse than Italy. So even if we got kicked out pretty early in the World Cup, you know, it was important that Germany got kicked out before just so that people wouldn’t make, wouldn’t make fun of me. And back then sort of in Germany was pretty good and Italy was pretty bad, but that happened. That happened quite a lot. So, and the interesting thing is when I speak to my brother, it’s exactly the same. So, you know, Joe, we have that in common.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:06:19]:I have a younger brother who’s 6 years younger, but actually when I talk to my parents and I ask them, you know, who do you support? They actually quite, it’s actually much harder for them now because they they everything that they’ve achieved and accomplished in life, you know, they they they they they credit Germany and sort of, you know, the situation they do it, they found themselves in and the economic prosperity that they gained, to Germany. And so they’re incredibly, thankful. So am I. No. But I have this I have this, you say this, this, this this issue with people were making fun of me if Eli was doing bad. So that’s why I always supported Eli and whoever paid against Germany.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:06:56]:I see. And then at one point, you went to studies, and I’ve seen you also gotten around Montreal, WHU, Lancaster University, and you studied in a university in Italy. Can you take us just a tiny bit along this journey before we enter your professional journey?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:07:17]:Sure. So actually, before I I went to to university, I I did a professional training at Deutsche Bank in a hospital room for 2 years because I I don’t know. I had a I had a girlfriend back then in Hamburg. So, you know, I thought I’d move out from Joe. And so I went to Hamburg, pretty quickly realized, you know, what this professional training is all good and so on. But, I wanna I wanna sort of I wanna do something I wanna do something else. And I do remember, by the way, I finished my hospital and I got a job off from Deutsche Bank, and I told my parents, hey, by the way, I’m not gonna take this. And this was okay money back then.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:07:46]:Also, I did we’re not gonna take this. I’m gonna go to university sort of, a a word fell apart for them. Joe. Because, you know, this guy is a banker now and and why is he not taking the job? And so I went to I wanted to go to university. I, applied everywhere, and a friend of mine said, you know what? There’s this, open day at, at Epps back then. So we went there, because you had a good reputation and so on. Went there. To be honest, I left that place pretty disappointed.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:08:14]:To be honest with you, I thought, and it’s not because the place was not nice or the students that were not there were not, were not nice, but I felt that there were quite a lot of people that I thought didn’t didn’t have the substance. I didn’t have the substance that I was expecting. So we said, you know what? Let’s go. We also went to Maastricht. We also went to, to Bitnierge, but then we said, you know what? And we’ve had the same everywhere. So let’s say, let’s go to the WHO because people, Joe people thought that, you know, maybe that’s the the at least back then, that’s, that’s a pretty decent university. So maybe maybe we find better people there. And to be honest, I I did feel that the picture there was different.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:08:53]:I thought that there were, you know, we spoke to the to the existing students and I thought that there were lots of really talented smart people. So I applied. I also applied for the for the Boteteville’s Law School, which was quite new back then. And then I had the privilege that I actually got, got offers, yeah, basically in in all of the universities that I applied and, and then took the WHO. And, to be honest, big discussion back home then was who’s going to pay for that because we didn’t have the money to pay for it. But luckily, the W. H. U.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:09:23]:Also has a has a has a scholarships. So and I got one of those scholarships. Joe, I had the privilege of studying there and, and actually not being required to to pay for it. As a matter of fact, I actually got BaFIC as well at the same time. And look, my my I very vividly remember because you asked me I got around quite a bit. I very vividly remember. My life until then consisted in, basically, you know, until I was 10, I was allowed to play football. And afterwards, I started working.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:09:53]:So I started, first washing dishes at my parents’ place, and then I started at some point, my mom asked me, you know, now you’re old enough. You can either work in the kitchen with your father or you can be out here with me and be a waiter. And I said, Joe. You know, kitchen with my father sounds boring, you know. So I I went sort of and becoming a waiter. And every vacation I had, every weekend I had, especially in the summer, you know, while everybody else was traveling and was having fun, I literally was working now. So I I grew up with that sort of, influence. So as a result until I was 20, and left home, I’ve never seen any other country other than Germany, Italy, because we spent our winter vacation there and Austria because we were driving through that bay.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:10:35]:Back then, you know, nobody was flying or didn’t have the money to for flying. So we were, driving through Austria in order to get to Italy. And that was basically my international exposure. So when I arrived at the WHO, and to me, this is probably one of the turning points sort of, you know, in my in my in my mindset at least. You get there and everybody, yes, talking about, you know, you get you get there, everybody rise, you get to know each other. Everybody’s talking about, hey, you know, where did you spend your summer? And there was a requirement that everybody needs to do an internship before joining the w two. And then, you know, the the Peter said, you know, I spent my summer at in New York at Morgan Stanley, and then there was, Clarissa, and she spent her summer at L’Oreal in, Paris. And the other guy worked at Goldman in in New York.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:11:17]:And then they asked me, and, you know, basically, my response was, yeah, I didn’t, I did, I I spent my summer at the, sort of in that 5,000 village, 5,000 population village. Village. What what I’m trying to convey is, when I got there and I saw all of these people and saw all of the things that they’ve done, it completely opened my mind and sort of, you know, opened opened my view on the opportunities that on the opportunities that are out there. And also because if you live up, if you live, grow up in your little bubble, you’re not exposed to these these sort of things. I didn’t have anybody in my environment to to who was pointing me at these sort of things. And you get there and you meet all of these talented, super smart, super ambitious people. And they show you, oh, you know, this is possible and this is possible and this is possible. So and as a as a consequence of that, I set myself the the clear objective.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:12:04]:I wanna sort of catch up. So my first internship, I still remember I applied for, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Australia. So the more exotic it was, the better it better it is. And I ended up in Jakarta. Absolutely loved it. And every opportunity along the way that I could spend abroad I took. So I spent my first exchange semester in Rome, which might be an odd choice for an Italian. But to be honest, every time I go to so my parents are from Sicily.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:12:30]:I was born in Sicily. Every time I go to Sicily, people thought of me as being the German. Every time I was in Germany, people thought of me as being the Italian. And I thought, you know what, I never lived in Italy, other than on vacation. I would want to have an Italian experience. I went to Rome and for the first time, I wasn’t the German or the Italian. So at least in Rome, people were thinking, oh, you know, the guys talks a bit funny, but that’s because he’s from Sicily. So I was considered for the first time Italian.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:12:53]:So I had had had the time of my life, really enjoyed it and so on. So that was my first exchange semester. And then the second part, the WHO has the double degree, programs for, you know, a number of people and, Lancaster was one of them. So, I went to Lancaster with my my best friend, who I’m sure we’re gonna talk about later on as well, and did an MBA there, during during my German diploma. And, as it turned out, during that MBA, they had an exchange from The Exchange. You know, there was the opportunity to do an exchange trimester. And, we applied for that, got in, and we went to Montreal there as well. So within those that’s what I’m saying.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:13:33]:And also WHO, everybody can have different opinions about it. I’m very positive about it, at least back then. But within those 4 years that I studied, I got my German diploma. I got my, British MBA. I did 4 internships of a total of probably a year or even more. I spent a year and a half abroad, studying abroad. So in total, I’ve probably spent, I don’t know, a year and a half or so in in Copeland itself, and that’s pretty cool, to do all of that within 4 years. I always say if if people ask me, you know, if anybody at the same time is able to study, I don’t know, in Cologne or Manheim, which were amazing universities back then.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:14:12]:I’m sure they are still today. And not do this in 4 years, but do in 5 years and get an, exchange semester and then be be able to do an internship as well. I rate this at least equally equally impressive as sort of being at the w two. But, you know, it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a nice system that exposes you to lots of different influences and it depends on you what you make out of it. But, you know, I was pretty happy and I would, you know, back then, I would have recommended it to anybody. To be honest, I’m not following it how it is today, but, you know, back then, I, it it made a big impact on my life. Mhmm.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:14:46]:I see. And then, basically, you did the usual thing. You went into consulting. I’ve I’ve seen that you spent time in New York as well as in Munich for BCG.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:14:58]:Yeah. So I I to be honest, I ended up in consulting because I didn’t know I didn’t know what to do. No. So I I as you say, entrepreneurship back then wasn’t a thing. No. It was at least not, as as as prominent as it is today. I think half my year went into consulting. It seemed like the right thing to do.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:15:19]:Back then, I was still pretty pretty naive, and I ended up at BC at BCG. Before that, actually, I took 6 months off and traveled the world a little bit, but ended up at BCG. And, again, you know, I I I wouldn’t I wouldn’t change it for anything. Also, the 4 years, four and a half years, 5 years that I spent there were amazing. The first project that I that I you know, so you start on the 1st January, so you do the boot camp, all that all that fancy stuff. And then I was assigned to my first project, which was, Adidas had just purchased Reebok. No? So that was a big project back then. And I was part of the team who was, helping with the post merger integration, it’s called, sort of to make sure that both companies are being combined properly, that there are synergies, that everything makes sense, and so on and so on.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:16:04]:And, there was about a year and a half. And as a result of, of within that project, I spent, I don’t know, 4 months in Italy, another 4 months in France. I spent 6 months in the UK, so pretty international. And, that was a pretty pretty good deal compared to, I don’t know, hanging out at some German bank in Frankfurt and live in in a suit and tie because I was running around and I did those jeans and I did those sneakers all the time. So I think it was pretty cool. And because of that, I, you know, I think and I must have done an okay Joe. So I was continue you know, I was always requested for consumer project and the same people, asked to work with me and so on. So I I did a project afterwards for another sporting goods company and another one.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:16:48]:At some point, I think somebody in re in staffing said, hey. You know what? This guy is only doing the cool projects. He also needs to do something really, really not so cool. And I’ve worked for Deutsche Bank for a project, and I worked for Allianz for another 9 months. As well as I also like that. So I I I I look at those times really well, really, really, sort of with good memories. And then at BCG, there’s this program which is called the ambassador program. So, you know, every year, a couple of people are being selected based on, I know, different criteria performance and and so on and so on and are being sent abroad.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:17:20]:And I remember very vividly that, you need to put 5 choice, and I put New York on on number 1, Chicago and Boston, maybe the other way around. Then I forgot what was 4th, Miami or something. And then I put 5th. I put Buenos Aires. And, long story short, I I got assigned to New York and, yeah, spent a year within that program in in New York and amazing. Joe. I mean, you spent a year working in New York and people at BCG don’t work as hard in New York as they do in Germany. So in Germany, I worked harder.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:17:53]:So I had a I had quite a lot of time. I had an amazing time there. I’ve traveled the country, never been to the US before. So it was, was really, really, rewarding, experience, you know, to spend a year in New York and, work on super interesting projects as well at the same time.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:18:10]:Mhmm. And at one point, you decided to leave consulting to go into different jobs, 1st as an investment professional, but then a very interesting, stop STCO and managing director of Joe 24, also, a company our regular listeners know a lot about because they have been quite frequently in the news. Actually, when I take my usual afternoon walk, I also walk by one of the central places you deliver here for this area, the furniture, for that. So, I also do have kind of a personal relationship to it. How did you end up being the CEO of this ecommerce company? How did you like it, and what did you learn?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:19:02]:So when I, I I guess because of the WHO connection, you know, I, I I got in touch with the Sunburst. They got in touch with me. And, I think they were back then was the earliest early days of Rocket Internet. And so, you know, they were looking for people and I guess they just called everybody at the w two and, discussed a few different things. Didn’t really like anything and so on. And at some point, I said, you know what? This whole consulting and private equity sort of thing, that’s also very interesting, but I I wanna do I wanna do entrepreneurship. I wanna sort of, you know, be in that scene that makes much more sense. And I, went to Berlin, met a couple of people.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:19:40]:I met with Orlando back then, a couple of other companies and so on. And one of the one of the guys that I knew from my BCG time, I I mentioned the Allianz product before, was Philipp Kaiboom, who I who I briefly overlapped with when I was at, at BCG. And, we met and, he was pitching me Joe 24. Back then, it was called FP Commerce, Felix Philip Commerce. And, it sounded like an amazing opportunity. So I, I joined back then, I joined as, help me remember, as COO, CFO, head of ERP, head of IT. So, you know, in other words, the company was super small, so everybody needed to do multiple wear multiple hats. And secondly, those were the jobs that nobody else wanted.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:20:23]:Joe. So everybody wanted to do marketing. Everybody wanted to do sort of merchandising and assortment and customer acquisition and so on. But sort of the nitty gritty, processy, boring machine room stuff, engine room stuff in the background systems and so on. Nobody really wanted to do it. So I joined when the company had sort of, you know, literally no revenues. I don’t know. 20, 30 people.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:20:43]:I don’t remember exactly. And, yeah, and, in April 2011, I wanna say. And, what to to be honest, that 1st year until sort of the end of the year, that’s probably one of the years that I’m most proud of in my professional career, not because of accomplishments, but because I that wasn’t an easy year. That was a pretty a pretty difficult year. And the fact that I didn’t throw in the towel, the fact that I persisted, the fact that I sort of, you know, got out the other end, against all odds, I was incredibly proud of that. So I I I I stayed on. You know, I remember my days. I got in in the morning, and I’m pretty nerdy structured guy, so I got my to do list with my 10 things that I want to do for today.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:21:29]:And at the beginning, I, you know, I ended the day with those 10 things still be on my to do list, and I had another 10 things that edit were added during the day because you were in constant firefighting. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like it’s doing constant firefighting mode and everything is not working and everybody’s complaining. And, you know, as the COO for an e commerce company that grows 20, 30, 40 percent month over month, Joe, The only time people speak to you is if when things are not working. No? So you’re you’re always the you you always got the, I’m not sure how how what what the language regulations are here on your podcast, but you never you you you have you’re always in trouble. Joe. So and, look, sticking through that, building the team, getting the right people on board, and at some point, rather than being in constant firefighting and reaction mode to go into a more proactive mode in Joe where you were not just thinking in hours, but you were starting to think in days and in weeks and in months and then quarters ahead Joe that you could suddenly start, shaping and creating rather than just repairing all the time.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:22:35]:I think that was probably the sort of, you know, the the the the the conclusion for that 1st year. I got really good people on board. And after about a year, yeah, I finally had the feeling, you know, things are under control. I was then pretty quickly made, MD. So together with the 2 founders, I got I was made the 3rd MD. And then, I don’t know, another half a year later, another year later, people asked me to become the CEO of the company instead of, you know, to take the overall responsibility. And I did this in total for 5 years. And, you know, I think within within during my time, we grew the company from 20, 30 employees and literally no revenues to, you know, close to €300,000,000 in revenues.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:23:15]:We were a 1300 people. We were in 8 countries on 2 continents. We were preparing for an IPO. So pretty intense, insightful learning experience, that I that I sort of lots lots lots of the things that I’ve, that I’ve learned, sort of, you know, stem from that time. I’m sure I would do things very differently now than than we did back then, but it was a was a really cool ride within that sort of, you know, Berlin early stage StartupRadio, the ecom scene, within Rocket Internet and sort of all of the companies that, you know, Zalando and Westwing and HelloFresh and so on, which all came out, and about at the same


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:23:53]:time. Mhmm. I see. Basically, what then happened, you had a few other positions. And at one point in maybe late 2022, somebody approached you. And in April 2023, you took over as the co CEO of Central. It’s spelled with an x, but actually, it’s called Central, I’ve been told. And, who gets you in the company? And what what was your job? Or what is your job right now?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:24:28]:Yeah. Maybe just because you say, you know, I had a couple of different positions after that. So I went into private equity. You know, I was in private equity before. I went into private equity again, both on the investment side and on the portfolio side. I I my point was I wanted to prove myself after I felt that I’ve proved myself sort of in the startup scene, that I also can function and work and operate in a in larger in larger environment. So at some point, I became COO for a company, with, you know, 10,000 employees. You know, I had personal responsibility for 2 and a half 1000 people.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:24:59]:You know, it’s a €10,000,000,000 company back then. So, yeah, super, super interesting. And, again, the complete opposite of what I experienced at at Tom 24, and I wanted to prove myself in that environment as well. There was a deliberate decision for me not to go back into that into that space afterwards. And also I think I I like much more where I’m now, but I I wanted to prove it to myself that I can that I can work in those environments as well. And I I think you, you know, because you went straight to 2022, we we we were living in London back then. We had a little one on the way. Brexit happened.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:25:32]:COVID happened. So we decided, you know what? Maybe London isn’t the best place to sort of, you know, have a have a child. So we, were starting to look around and, ended up in Munich for YFood. YFood super I’m sure most of your listeners know it as well. Super interesting company. They just did their, series a. It must have been in April 2020. And, and they were looking for at this time, so I told 24 I was the young guy.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:25:59]:Now I was the sort of old gray haired experienced guy to to young to younger founders, and I joined as 3rd MD. And, when I joined, the company was doing about, I don’t know, 1,000,000 and a half or so in terms of revenues and sort of, you know, still very early stage. And within within the 3 years that I stayed there, you know, I think we completely revamped the company, really expanded into a new market, grew the revenues by by factor 10, turned to profitable. So really, really big success story. And then, a big share was sold to, to Nestle. You know, I think that’s public information, and that was one of the reasons why we then parted ways, and, but again, super interesting story. And maybe that’s a theme, you know, when we come, to talk later about later on about Centra that I I’ve never had the courage or the bravery to found anything myself. You know? So I think that’s that’s one of those things that I never got to do, at least until now, to do this myself.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:26:54]:So I joined Home 24, at a at a at a stage where, you know, the proof of concept was already there. The same for Wifu. So, you know, lots of work has had already been done. But I sort of, enjoy those times, those periods, those those phases where there’s already something there. And then you take it from from, you know, early stage product market fit and scale the companies up. So when it comes to, you know, taking the next 2, 3, 4, 5 steps when it comes to professionalization, getting the right people on board, profitability, international expansion, strategic strategic sort of articulation of where you wanna go, operational execution. Those are sort of, you know, my my bread and butter, both at Joe 24 and YFood and also and what I’m doing now. So I left YFood, and then joined, actually, Capital, which is, you know, an early stage deep tech, VC.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:27:43]:Mhmm. We invested into companies such as, you know, what do people know? Mytaxi and Lilium and Anchacout and AirUp and YFood was one of their investments and central central as well. Joe, and I joined them, as a partner. You know, they located in Bonn, but I’m the sort sort of the the Munich deponderance, if you want so. And, and, yep, started started working there. I helped KraftBloc with a fundraise that they completed last year. So I think I was quite quite helpful there as well. And at some point, I think in, which year we’re now in in 2024.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:28:18]:So at the beginning of last year, Bina, the founder of Accenture reached out to me and said, hey. You know what? Domenico told me about Accenture and the situation, and I obviously knew about Accenture already. And, basic you know, long story short, Bina and Claudia, who’ve been building this company for an incredibly long time, really, really well, super bootstrapped, super, commercially sort of, you know, and, really, really well. Amazing founder story if we have time to talk about it. But they realized, you know what? Running a company with 20 people or running a company with 200 people, those are just 2 different, completely different animals. And we, you know, they need to have. And, one thing led to the other, they said, you know, are you interested? I obviously spoke to Fireflies and said, you know, would you allow me, you know, sort of, you know, to do my Fireflies job and at the same time be Joe CEO of, Accenture. For Fireflies, this is a super important investment.

Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:29:09]:So they, they they agreed. The all of the other shareholders thought it’s an amazing idea. And so I joined in March last year, so about a year ago as a co CEO, formally being responsible for everything from commercial to customer success to finance, legal, people, strategy, and so on, and Bina sort of focusing on product engineering. In reality, we don’t really divide up, like this because at the end of the day, Vina is all over the place and I’m all over the place as well. And given that we are really well aligned, we are quite complementary, we think very much alike, that that actually works really, really well. So, you know, if you want Joe, you know, we are we are both responsible for everything and it, has been working really well. So much so that originally, my my my my my mandate, if you want Joe, was, planned to end at the end of last year. So, you know, was, was, time limited until the end of last year.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:30:04]:But already after, you know, in May or June or something, Bina approached me and said, you know what, Domenico? You seem nicer than we than we thought and a little bit less stupid than we were concerned concerned of. Would you be interested in doing this a little bit longer? Joe. And so the first time that I that I asked me in January to join on an interim basis, I said yes because it’s for 5 guys, it’s a really important investment. So, of course I, I try to help if I can. The second time they, they asked me sort of in May, June, if I wanted to do this for longer, I said, yes, not because it’s a really important investment for Fireflies, but because it’s an absolute dream job. No. So Accenture, it’s an amazing company, amazing market, really no competitor out there that we that we should be afraid of. Lots of white space, lots of really good ingredients.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:30:47]:The product is good. We have lots of really talented people. We have the the privilege that back from the funding round in 2020 and 2021, we still have, an enormous amount of cash on the bank so that, you know, we we’re not in any need of raising any any any funds anytime soon. So with all of those


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:31:04]:the type Tiger Global Manage Management Visionaries Club, Sequoia Capital, Frigas, and HubSpot Ventures, you also have quite some interesting investor names.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:31:15]:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I think we have an incredibly smart, talented and supportive board as well. So I really thought, you know, all of the ingredients are there, but somehow the company lost a little bit its way. You know, there was a little bit of sort of this hypergrowth, and, I I did feel that I had a pretty good plan on, you know, how to turn the company into an onto a more successful path again.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:31:39]:And so when they asked me, again, you know, of course, I spoke to 5 guys. Of course, we spoke to the other investors, but they said, you know what? This This sounds actually like a really good idea. And so, as of today, I’m doing both things. Joe I’m still a full time partner at Highgives, but I’m also full time co CEO at at at at at at at at Central. And, yeah, couldn’t be happy at all. It’s, last year was really, really, intense, but very positive, and sort of to start into 2024 has been has been pretty, pretty positive as well. Joe, really really looking forward to together with the team, together with the entire organization, together with all of, you know, our our joint vision and really revolutionalizing the sort of the market for ERP for small and medium sized companies, and, really making a dent sort of, you know, in that in that market and, super excited about it. Yeah.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:32:29]:Yeah. So so, the the the founder story you elaborated a little bit before we started with the interview with basically 2 people. They put together electronic components, and they sold them. And they kind of, as a side gig, programmed their own ERP system, meaning for everybody who’s not into, b to b software. And that that will only be few people out there. That’s basically one of the systems that can run a whole company, including different modules like accounting, HR, and so on and so forth.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:33:03]:Yeah. Exactly. So I’m the pic the picture maybe your listeners need to think of is you have Ben and Claudia, who are these these sort of, you know, how do you call them, like, MacGyvers, if you want. So now Joe, like, really, really creative inventor types. They were sitting on their sofa and basically putting electrical components together. At some point, they said, you know what? It’s a a lot of sort of manual work that we need to do for warehousing and printing out labels and shipping all of this stuff and sending invoices. There must be a more efficient way. Let’s program the software.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:33:33]:So Pina started programming the software. And at some, you know, the software became better and better. And at some point, sort of, you know, his friends and befriended companies and so on said, hey. You know what? The software seems to be cool. How are you guys doing it? Do you mind if we use it as well? And so you they gave it away for free. And so word-of-mouth happened. And, at some point, you know, people realized, well, you know what? This electrical component setting, that’s super nice. But at Sidekick, as you put it, you know, that, that that software sort of thing, that actually ended up being the main business.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:34:02]:And Joe at some point, they closed the electrical components business and really build out that software. Now it’s for everybody you know, is not aware of ERPs. So it’s basically the the the the complete back end of, especially of trading companies. So, you know, from order to cash, procure to pay, so from getting all of those orders from your shops offline, online, multichannel into your your commissioning engine, making sure that it be being forwarded to the right warehouse, making sure that the carriers know it, printing out the labels, sending out the invoices, making sure that things are being paid, doing all of the accounting and all of that stuff. So that’s all within the ERP. And Central has focused and specialized on obviously the idea piece of which now there is an SAP and there’s an Oracle and so on. Mhmm. But those are for large enterprise customers And for for sort of, you know, the small and medium sized companies sort of, you know, starting at, you know, half a1000000 €1000000000 in revenues at the at the lower side, but up to 30, 40, 50,000,000.

Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:35:02]:We also have customers which are significantly larger than that. But, you know, 50, 60,000,000 on the upper side. There isn’t really any any good solution out there that is sort of not as lean, that is fast to actually implement, that is also inexpensive, and the deals, you know, that has all of that flexibility that a modern ERP needs. It’s completely cloud based, so lots of APIs. So it’s really a modern piece of software. And we see ourselves as, if you want to, you know, I’ve mentioned before as the COO in a in a in at Home 24. People always talk to you when when things are going wrong. And so if you want to, the ERP, ERP is that silent, reliable, stable servant in the backroom so that, you know, your business is running and that you can focus on acquiring customers, on branding, on marketing, on customer acquisition, on finding new cool products and so on.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:35:54]:So we really focus on being the the backbone of all our companies. And, you know, to be honest, we have about 2,000 2,000 customers in our in our in our midst. They make between €2,000,000,000 3,000,000,000 in revenues per year and heavily growing. They employ somewhere between 2025,000 people. Joe, you know, that’s a big chunk of our German Mittelstand that we are supporting and we’re heavily growing. So it’s an incredibly, worthwhile pursuing mission that we are that we’re doing there because we really see ourselves sort of, yeah, as the as the back engine, as the engine room for that German and Mittelstand, with a focus on trading companies. So to be clear, we focus on companies that either offline, online, multi gen, doesn’t really matter, but have physical products that they are trading. So, you know, if you are Mhmm.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:36:41]:I don’t know, consulting agency or a podcaster and you’re not selling anything physical, we’re probably not the right solution for you. But whenever it comes to, physical products, whether it’s food, beverages, but even Joe, you know, nonfood. So, you know, ecom, flowers, whatever it is, that’s really what, Accenture is designed for.

Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:36:59]:Yeah. You have, fashion, food and drink, home and garden, and, actual production here.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:37:07]:Fire extinct fire ex fire extinguishers, watches. So it’s really the the whole the whole bandwidth as long as it is a physical product Joe that it needs warehousing. So we don’t do pre digital products. But as long as it’s a physical product, you know, we are the we’re the place to be for for all of those traders.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:37:24]:Do you have 1 do you don’t need to name them, but do you have, like, one customer in mind where you thought, that is really a product that’s interesting. Never thought about something like this.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:37:36]:Define sort of, you know, product that is interesting in terms of, Joe that like like an odd like an odd product, for instance.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:37:42]:Yeah. For example, that that was completely new to you.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:37:45]:Well, look. I mean, we we we have the without naming names, but, you know, we are the ERP for the, global market leader when it come here. I mentioned fire extinguishers before. When it comes to, all of the those products that you need for firefighters, you know, from the coats to the helmets, to fire extinguishers, and so on. So, the the global market leader for those sort of products runs on on on, on Central. But there are many more names that are are sort of publicly available from Koho and Wifood and, Robcor. So, you know, a lot a lot of really cool companies that, that are running on, that are running on Central.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:38:21]:Mhmm. And you’re basically there. When I talk to your colleagues, they say they said a few things about you. One of the first things they said, you’re the zero bullshit guy. You’re the person who takes a company from 10 to 100%, and of course, your job is focusing on recruiting and besides that, execution execution execution. Is is that about true? Is that what you would consider your Joe right now?


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:38:53]:Well, I I I just I just believe sort of philosophy wise, yeah, that, the difficult thing in building a successful company is not necessarily having the idea. No, I think lots and lots and lots of people have really, really good ideas. But the difference between sort of, you know, building a successful company and bringing that idea to life and Mhmm. And failing from my perspective is the execution part. Joe. So, the the Menninger an idea from from idea to product market fit, you gotta have the right instinct. You gotta gotta have the right intuition. You gotta hustle.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:39:31]:You gotta have the courage to do it in the first place. You need a lot of luck as well. But then once you get to that point and sort of, you know, you you know it’s working, you know, but now it’s all about how do you turn this into a really successful company. That’s the part that I’m most interested in. So, you know, I’m not sure if this is 10 to a 100% or, you know, I think Peter Thiel talks about 0 to 1, and I talk about 1 to 10 or whatever it is. And, that’s sort of the the phase that I’m most interested in. And, if if I look at the role of a CEO sort of, you know, in that time, or in that in that phase, it’s very, very different than, you know, being being a founder. So, you know, I mentioned before when I was at 20 24, I had 2 founders.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:40:10]:And at some point, I became the CEO. It’s not because those guys were not brilliant. Quite the contrary. No. I I don’t wanna say anything negative about them. They were the right people for the right time. But over the life cycle of a company, the skill sets, that you that you’re required to have for, you know, growing the company vary. And I’m I might be the right person for the phase that we are in right now, but maybe in 3 years, you know, so we we reach a different stage.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:40:33]:And then, you know, I’m I’m, I’m I’m realistic enough to say, you know, maybe then we need somebody else that takes the company forward as well. So I really believe into, that any employee of a company sort of, you know, needs to work in the best interest of the company. And if that means hiring people that are better than yourself and replacing yourself and sort of not handing on the baton to somebody else. I really believe that. And by the way, that’s why my my my sort of partnership with with Dana works so incredibly well. That guy is a founder through and through. The only thing that he cares about is the company. So he’s very low ego, so it’s all about company first.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:41:07]:And, and the fact that he says, doctor Menninger, I’m I I trust you. I’m happy with what you do. Just go and do it. You know, just do whatever you think is best. And I think that’s an incredibly sort of complement complimentary and fruitful sort of cooperation. I I think it wouldn’t work for founders to sort of, you know, to transition and hand over some of the responsibility if there wouldn’t be enormous amount of trust, if there wouldn’t be an enormous amount sort of, you know, low ego, and if if there wouldn’t be an enormous amount of, you know, we are all acting in the company’s best interest, if everybody is just sort of focused on their own personal agenda, then it’s not going to work out. So and but to answer your question, so for that phase, how how do I define basically the the role of a of a CEO? Joe. So for me, the role of a CEO in that phase is to, how do I put it, to articulate a vision for the company and to set the ambition level.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:41:57]:Joe? So and and a vision that everybody sort of thinks it’s worth pursuing. And and sort of that vision and that ambition level obviously is not static, but, you know, constantly evolves. That’s for me, number 1. Number 1, if you have the number 2. So if you have that, then it’s, about putting a triple a team in place and setting those people up for success, not sort of, you know, mentor and develop them along the way, along the journey, sort of, you know, develop them, give them feedback and so on. But, I I always say sort of triple a people hire triple a people and also triple a b people hire hire c people. So, you really need to hire people that are in any in every position that they are in, that they will be able to do the job better than you do it. If you think that you can do the job better than they do it, then they are the wrong then maybe you are you are, how do you say it, you are you are unrealistic or they are the wrong people.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:42:47]:But, you know, put the people in place and set them up for success. The third thing is and, you know, because I’m not completely about this affair now. So it’s not, you know, you hire the same the right people and then you let them go. So you need to clearly assign accountability and instill a sense of ownership. Now so everybody needs to know what are they responsible for, what do they own, what are the topics that they that they that they own. And we need to hold people accountable as well. And also and holding people accountable doesn’t mean that it’s always a complete disaster. If targets are not missed, I I know I missed.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:43:17]:But it means about we need to understand why it is, what can we learn from it. You know, it’s not about finger pointing and then, and it’s about what can we do better going forward. I’m sometimes been asked, you know, how do I deal with mistakes and so on. So every day, you know, I I I know I take 10 decisions and 5 of them are wrong and 5 are right. But of the 5 that are wrong, we correct them tomorrow because we figure it out quite quickly. You know? But making mistakes in a fast paced environment and the and this environment that we are working in, that’s totally normal. And, actually, if we wouldn’t be any if we wouldn’t be making any mistakes, it would probably be an alarm alarming signal because it means that we’re not taking enough risk. So once you clearly assign accountability, then I would say, instead of, you know, determine the the boundary conditions if you want to.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:43:57]:So, you know, what are people allowed to to do within their jobs versus not? That sounds that sounds quite strict, but what do I mean with that? So I just hired a new VP commercial for Accenture who started on Friday. And, obviously, the you know, it’s very clear what he’s responsible for and so on. But if he now were to get the idea, you know what, I’m now moving out of the small and medium sized enterprise segment as so small small and medium sized companies business segment, and I wanna go into large enterprises. That’s in conflict with our vision. Joe that’s unfortunately, Moritz is his name. I would say that’s not what we want. You know, we can obviously discuss it and so on, but we are focused and we are exclusively focused on the small and medium sized companies. So you need to make sure that there are certain parameters and boundary conditions that people are are aware of, which they know, you know, what these are these are basically lines that cannot be crossed.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:44:48]:Then sort of, you know, with all of that set up, you know, you act as an overall synchronizer to make sure that teams are working towards the same goals. You know? I don’t think that there’s anything more powerful than sort of, you know, having 200 people all working towards the same goals rather than a 100 going left and a 100 right, and at the end, you’re not moving forward. You are as a CEO, you are acting as a catalyst, as an accelerator, as a problem solver when sort of, you know, the, the organizational processes that you set up, fail. And finally, I guess, sort of, you know, there’s the cultural element as well. So, you know, you define the culture of the company. You lead by example. You, focus on communications. You’re being transparent with the organization.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:45:25]:So that’s really the the, from my perspective, the the role of the of the CEO as as as I live it. Joe? And what comes through there is, yeah, I don’t have time for bullshit. No? So it’s it’s all about, what what is that saying? If you’re, if you have data, then data wins. But if all of you, if all that we have is opinions, then mine wins. No. Because I I I I need I need to look at data. I need to, you know, see well reasoned arguments why we should be doing things. But so don’t have time for anything other than that.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:45:58]:I, execution, I really believe that execution is the difference, between sort of, you know, failing and being successful. I really believe, you know, there that that execution, yep, is that difference maker, that differentiator. And, what else did you say? So 0 is 0 so 10 to a 100 and 0 bullshit. What else did you say? Mhmm.

Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:46:19]:And execution execution execution that we already talked about plus hiring. And it I mean, usually, I close with those questions, but right now, it’s pretty obvious that you’re looking for people. We talked before. You’re not necessarily looking for fundraising, but everybody who would be curious what jobs are at offer right now, they could go down here in the show notes. If you listen to this, if you’re watching this somewhere, there’s link to our blog post, and in our blog post that you’ll have a link to career website of Central.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:46:52]:Yeah. Look. I mean, let let me maybe before we go into the into the jobs comment on so so I don’t wanna convey the the the the picture that it’s all about execution. So I’m sure once we are in better in better waters, you know, I also like strategizing and thinking about, you know, whatever we wanted to do next, internationalization. I think you gotta earn that privilege first. Now so you gotta bring your house in order, and I think that 2023 for us was really that. You know, we’ve invested heavily into people, teams, structures, processes, and so on, to to heavily improve our customer satisfaction, to really improve our processes, to help customers get to value much, much faster. So I I think you you gotta earn that.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:47:31]:I I I hate it when people come to me and, you know, in recruiting process, you you ask them what you like and they say strategy. I don’t know what strategy is. You know? I, it’s for me, it’s all about, you know, setting yourself objectives and then making sure that you translate or that you that you define actionable, interim steps in order to get to that point. So that’s that’s maybe comment number 1. Comment number 2, recruiting. I interview everybody in the company. So everybody that we are currently hiring at at at some point during the process comes to me, not because I have the final say. I think that’s really, really important.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:48:01]:I always say this to my teams. The final say is with a hiring Menninger, but I’d like to get a good feeling of what are the profiles that we’re hiring, what is the attitude, what’s the culture, and so on. And, typically, if I don’t like somebody, I, the feedback that I provide to the hiring manager is, look, Peter, I have this concern. You know? I’m a bit unsure about this. You know? I’m not certain about this. It’s your call. But and and recruiting is like Joe many things. It’s it’s it’s never certainty.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:48:28]:Joe? So you’re talking about probabilities here. So but I say, you know, I’m not sure if if there’s a high probability that that person is going to be successful. And then it’s the hiring manager’s decision to say, you know what? I see it differently. I still wanna hire that person and so on. But I do interview everybody because I really like to get a good feeling and give that feedback as well. And, yeah, so when you ask about, open positions, look, you know, we grew by, I I think 30% in our teams last year. We probably have ambitions to to grow even more than this year. So we’re probably looking for 30, 40, 50 people that we wanna add to the team, this year.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:49:02]:So maybe it’s, it would be too too far fetched to talk about those individual positions right now. But for anybody that wants to be part of a team that in 3, 4 years from now, you know, wants to be at the next, whatever, summer party or Christmas party with me and say, do you remember back then on the 6th March 2024 and look what we’ve accomplished together? We really made a dent into this, you know, market for small and medium sized companies for, complex product. Anybody that is sort of inspired by that, anybody that wants to be part of their journey, anybody that wants to be part of a winning team is welcome, to sort of reach out. You know, we always need talented, young, smart people that sort of wanna make wanna make, wanna have an impact in on this journey.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:49:47]:Mhmm. And you said that you already have something like 2,000 clients, in terms of SME companies here in Germany. According to the German statistics office, there are 3,150,000 small and medium sized enterprises. So I’d

Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:50:05]:So there are there are few there are few left there are few left for us. That’s what you’re saying?


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:50:09]:Yeah. There’s still room to grow for you guys. I wish you best of luck for that. And, hopefully, we talk soon, when you guys have made the next step because we are already talking about double length of a usual podcast recording here on. Domenico, thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking to you, and I think that is still proof that you do have a lot of Italian genes in you.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:50:37]:No. Absolutely, Joe. Thank you so much for having me. It was a real pleasure. You know, if we’re already talking twice to length, you know, I’m also speaking twice as fast as most people. So, you know, we did 4 times the content. So that’s what what I mean with efficiency and execution. Thank you so much for having me, and, really enjoyed this as well.


Domenico Cipolla — CEO Xentral [00:50:50]:Thank you.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:50:51]:Yeah. My pleasure. Have a good day. Bye bye.


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