Markus Pöttinger is CEO of gkk DialogGroup GmbH, one of the largest German direct marketing agencies
We spoke to him about his experiences during the innovation tour to Tel Aviv in June 2018.
Can you tell me a bit about why you decided to join the trip to Israel?
For us, one major reason for going to Israel was to find out what factors had led to the emergence of Silicon Wadi. We had already gotten to know a few Israeli companies beforehand and been impressed with their technological capabilities. Likewise, the specialist press had already given us an impression of the innovative energy Israel is currently putting out. How this came about and how the ecosystem as a whole functions – those were the key questions for us.
What did you learn about Israeli AdTech?
We learned that one significant factor is definitely the permanent threat situation in the country. This, of course, stems not just from political issues but also from the fact that Israel is a country with virtually no raw materials of its own, and it has therefore had to develop a different kind of commodity capable of functioning in a scaled manner and on a global level.
Because of their history, the Israelis have had to learn to look forward boldly and tackle new topics with a lot of energy. This is especially evident in the Tel Aviv startup scene.
How does the Israeli startup/ad tech scene compare to the German one?
If you compare the Israeli startup scene with the one in Germany, one thing that strikes you fairly quickly is that the Israelis have thought globally right from the start because their own market has never, generally speaking, offered sufficient potential.
Unlike their counterparts in Israel, the German startups are extremely perfectionist in their approach. This costs them in terms of speed, especially if we compare them with Silicon Valley or companies in China.
In comparison with Germany, Israel suffers from a significant shortage of manpower. It was noticeable that in Israel, companies put a lot more effort into retaining employees in the long term than German ones do.
What and who impressed you the most during the trip?
After the trip, I was very impressed with how well the young entrepreneurs followed up on the newly formed contacts. I think that after the trip, we received at least two emails from virtually every startup. These came very promptly, with clear signals that the companies were very interested in further cooperation and were willing to put a lot into making it happen. I often find myself wishing German companies were as keen as that.
What benefits did this tour provide for you or your business?
Besides the numerous opportunities for cooperation, it was a further reminder that we already face massive competition within Germany and Europe. A reminder that in principle, we too are in a threat situation similar to that of the Israelis – we just haven’t realized it yet.
Would you recommend this tour to colleagues or business partners?
I have already told business partners that I recommend taking a trip like this. I hope one or two of them really will take my tip seriously and make plans to visit Israel either this year or next.