Meet Madita Best, Senior Strategist Content Marketing at Babble and Founder & CEO of the impact startup Daheim. Learn more about her journey through various businesses, why she would be interested to have Mark Zuckerberg’s job and why she’s currently excited about all things chocolate.
What role does technology play in your everyday life?
In my private life, I am not very digital, as I use technology mostly for work. Most people only use up to 5 apps (the ones on their home screens) and I am definitely one of them. Professionally, I work for a software company, which makes me rather digital. At the same time, I also have a few side projects in the area of social tech and e-commerce.
Tell us a bit about your journey? How did you get to where you are now?
My background lies in Media Management and Communications. I studied Media Management in Hanover and then continued my studies in communications and social sciences in Paris.
Due to so many refugees coming to Germany, I felt the urge to do my bit and founded a social startup called Daheim. It is a video call platform that connects newcomers and natives to speak German and gives them the chance to get to know each other(‘s culture). The business worked quite well. This gave me the opportunity to take part in different accelerator programs as well as in partnerships with corporates. But lately unfortunately something happened which is why it’s not up and running for the moment.
At the same time, I started working with Babbel in the B2G area to get governmental organisations to work with digital language learning means (aka Babbel) to help newcomers learn German.
All in all from both experiences, I can say that people and governmental organisations aren’t ready (yet) to go digital. This was quite a disappointing learning, as it would have been a great opportunity to use digital means for inclusion. In addition to that, it would have been a more efficient (and probably also effective) way than classroom lessons.
Before Daheim, I had co-founded the design inclusion association be able – where I am still actively engaged. Recently, we were one of the 10 winners of the Google Impact Challenge with an amazing project called “Made for my wheelchair”. It enables people to print wheelchair add-ons with 3D printers. The add-ons can be made by makers in fab labs which makes them cheaper than any products on the market.
Apart from that, my latest project has been to enable people to discover high quality, fair and direct trade chocolate which is healthier and slave-free (called theyo <3); It is very absurd that people indulge in chocolate that mainly consists of sugar and child labor. Nowadays, people are getting more aware of their social/ecological responsibility/power as customers. We want to see that in the chocolate industry as well and make it more digital (where it makes sense).
All in all, I am very happy to be able to pursue my own projects next to my day-job at Babbel. It has helped me become extremely efficient and focus on what’s actually important and what’s not (not only professionally but also in my private life). Also I don’t see any difference between free time and work à Work-Life-Blend rather than balance. Not sure whether it’s a good thing but I really like it (for now). If we look on the bright side, I don’t have this 30s depression because I am too busy which might be good as well 😀
What and who were the influencers of who you are today?
I guess I have been influenced by so many things and people, that it’s really hard to tell. What was definitely important to me and changed my perception of a lot of things, were my stays abroad. I did my first language learning trip when I was 12 and spent a school semester abroad when I was 16. This helped me learn about different perspectives and to become a “global citizen”. Furthermore, I went to France with zero knowledge of French and after 3-4 months I basically understood everything. I guess this pretty much helped me be less afraid of unfamiliar situations and just “go with the flow” (haha).
What is the hardest lesson you have learned as a founder and woman in tech?
That it’s a real boys club. Not only, does it feel like every tech founder is male but also nearly all of the angels, investors, mentors etc. are male as well. In return, there are not a lot of role models, which reminds me of the German saysing: “Pinguine stellen Pinguine ein” 🙂 (translation: Penguins hire other penguins). This naturally means that these people are rather looking for people who resemble them and thus the ecosystem currently is more interested in male founders. Luckily there are also a lot of really cool people (also mostly guys) who are super helpful and really don’t care about gender.
What are three tech trends you see happening in the next 5 years?
- Not necessarily the biggest trend but overlooked in my point of view: Tech for good 😉 There are still so many use cases in which tech could serve for good causes (eg. Blockchain for Fairtrade etc.). I would really like to see social entrepreneurship growing in the tech scene.
- Way more visual content & curated content. I guess there will be a change of power and more visual platforms will (re)gain power and users. We can already see that some visual platforms (like Instagram) are getting more users and are not only used for their initial purpose but also as search engines for all kinds of things.
- Curation: there is too much information out there and I assume that users will increasingly seek tools and services to reduce complexity.
What is the thing you’re currently most excited about?
Right now all things chocolate (who wouldn’t be?) & 3D printing for social good (check out “match my maker“)
Which job in tech, other than your current one, would you like to have?
To be honest, I’d take Mark Zuckerberg’s job right now, because I would really like to know what was and or is going on there. Obviously his job might not be very easy at the moment. But instead of assuming what is going on, which strategies Facebook has/doesn’t have, I would like to see it on my own 😉
If you could host a dinner party with 3 influential people in tech, who would you invite and what would the setting be?
I actually can’t think of anyone specific but a decent dinner with influential people in tech sounds like a good thing to do. If I had such a dinner it would take place at the rooftop restaurant of Zeche Zollverein. I would like to show them that there is so much more to the region than mining – yet Zeche Zollverein is just a very nice place to have an event ;-).
I really appreciate the startup ecosystem in Berlin but it’s also the reason why I wouldn’t like to live anywhere else in Germany. As Germany is not top notch when it comes to digitalization, I think in the long run it’s very important to have several “tech hubs” in Germany and not only one place: Berlin. Also most of the companies in Germany are not based in Berlin which makes Berlin a place far away from the rest. I feel that lots of Germans still perceive Berlin as a place with many crazy tech hippies – which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think it would be great and important to get powerful/influential people more excited about other places than Berlin.
Madita Best is Senior Strategist Content Marketing at the Berlin based language learning software company Babbel (Lesson Nine GmbH). Babbel is a subscription-based language learning service which serves currently 1.300.000+ active subscribers worldwide. It was selected “most innovative company in education” by Fast Company in 2016.
Having finished her studies at SciencesPo Paris in 2016 and IJK in 2013, Madita founded the social startup Daheim with which she participated in different accelerator programs such as Axel Springer Plug&Play and Social Impact Lab ‘Andersgründer’. During that time she refined the concept and (social) business model of the refugee video telephony platform. Lately she co-founded the chocolate curation startup Theyo. During her studies Madita worked in the fields of communication and marketing in various industries
and countries and co-founded the social design association be able. She has thorough knowledge in the fields of (social) entrepreneurship, marketing and new business.