From Germany to Sweden – Lucas Höfer took his beautiful map designs and started a company on the other side of the Baltic Sea. We called him to get an insight into the graphic world of madmap and to hear his thoughts about the entrepreneurial life in general.
Hi Lucas! Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Lucas Höfer and I am originally from a big city in the western part of Germany. I’ve been living and staying abroad for the most part of my grown up live though and developed a passion for graphic- and web design already early on.
When I moved back to Germany, I wanted to have a huge and individual design print of my hometown in my apartment and couldn’t find anything in the market. That’s when the predecessor of madmap was born.
How would you describe madmap for those who don’t know about you?
Madmap enables you to tell your story – graphically. We display countries, regions and cities as patchwork of their single communities. We only define the shapes and layers though and the customer can take these and choose colours and grades interactively. That way the customer decides, how his or her map is going to look like. The customer becomes the graphic designer and can create an absolutely unique art print of the place that he or she loves.
But that’s not all of it. It is possible to select single areas exclusively, so that it is possible to highlight just the corners and places that have special meaning. The neighbourhood where you grew up, the park where you took your partner on a first date or simply the area where your favourite sports club is from – in the colour of that very sports club of course.
Therefor, on a meta level you can say, we are aiming at changing the way people interact with graphic design as an interior design object. Express your identity, your story with a design and fit it into your self chosen living environment. That is where madmap is so innovative.
How did it all start? What motivated you to take the step from idea to implementation?
It actually started with myself: I wanted to create a print for my own home. I did so and showed it to a friend in a café after I had picked it up from the local print shop. Five people came up to me and wanted to buy it on the spot. That made me see the potential it had and I started up a small scale project in Germany while I was still finishing my studies. It was quite successful in the end. Big clients like the famous sports club FC Schalke 04 bought prints of me.
In the end though, I felt like I didn’t want to settle in Germany at that point, I was ready to take on another adventure, learn another language and built another network within Europe. So, when a Swedish friend of mine asked me if I wanted to do it in Sweden, I said yes and we managed to get an office and mentorship in Lunds startup incubator VentureLab.
Which challenges have you met so far? And which advice do you have for people who want to, or already do, run their own business?
Well, it is more of a constant challenge, since there are problems and obstacles coming up all the time! So, I would say that time is a general challenge: things take so much more time than you think. And that’s because there are always things popping up that you can’t foresee. For example, when we were going to register the AB, there were new things popping up from nowhere all the time and it took so much longer in the end, than we initially thought. But I have also learned that there is no problem that stays for long, once it’s tackled.
Despite the obvious challenges, my advice to others is simply to get started. There is no point in standing on the edge of the pool, thinking about how cold the water will be when you jump in – face it and see how you adapt. You will be amazed of how capable you are once you get started.
How have you financed the business so far? And what alternatives do you consider for the future?
We have been growing organically so far and have not taken any loans or investments. The only capital we have taken in is from a new and strong business partner that is engaged in madmap since April this year. To speed up the development of the tools behind madmap, we are currently evaluating our financial needs for the next year and will consider to generate investment capital from there.
What are your plans for the future?
The next thing we are going to do within the madmap universe is to broaden the portfolio with cities like Berlin or Melbourne. Widen the scope internationally will help us to position the brand for Christmas and everything else will be a surprise for you….