In 2015, Maren and Matthias Wagener swoppped their office in Hamburg for a sailing yacht which is now both their office and home. The couple provides digital services and manages projects such as display ad campaigns, web sites and apps for agencies and start-ups. To do so, they rely on over 100 programmers whom they contact on Skype, per email and telephone. The Wageners will soon be heading to the South by Southwest festival – the world’s biggest digital creative fair underway in Austin, Texas from March 9–18, 2018. Hamburg News talked to the couple about their motivation and expectations.
Hamburg News: What attracts you about South by Southwest?
Matthias Wagener: Vast Forward has close links to Hamburg-based start-ups via our business network and is sponsoring the delegation from Hamburg. Apart from that, networking is the foundation of our business. Vast Forward is growing and consequently, international contacts are important. In Europe, we operate in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and our network of developers extends to France and Portugal. So, SXSW is very exciting and for thinking outside the box.
Hamburg News: Do you have fixed plans for Austin or will you go with the flow?
Maren Wagener: Apart from our scalable services, Vast Forward has a strict, remote structure that is geared towards trending themes such as “New Work” and “Remote Work”. That involves many questions and decisions and we are looking forward to interacting with international contacts. We have already made some appointments. Apart from that, we will try to meet people who have experience with SXSW and to get some tips from them.
Hamburg News: How are you preparing for SXSW?
Maren Wagener: We are making appointments and reading up on the programme. We are talking to as many people as possible to get an idea of what we want to experience there – apart from networking. But we are also trying to leave ourselves room for discovery.
Hamburg News: What are your post-Austin plans – geographically and professionally?
Matthias Wagener: Professionally speaking, we will continue to develop Vast Forward. We had a team workshop to start 2018 and that has resulted in some interesting issues and objectives. We are also keen to set up other teams focusing on project management and our network of developers. Geographically speaking, we will continue to work from our boat and will spend this season and the next in the Mediterranean. That’s practical, if we have to travel and visitors can still reach us well.
Interview by: Karolin Köcher