“Making a lot of money is never my priority”

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Frankfurt The “Bayerische Hof” will experience an unusual celebrity boost next Monday. Actor Heiner Lauterbach will be there, as well as bestselling author Sebastian Fitzek, opera singer Jonas Kaufmann, actor Til Schweiger, star chef Alfons Schuhbeck and film producer Nico Hofmann.

The reason for the All-Stars formation is a press conference, but it's not about the next “Bambi” or a new one NetflixSeries, but about the market launch of an ambitious company. The goal is a combination of education and entertainment, it wants to mix “Education” and “Entertainment” to popular “Edutainment”.

According to the business idea, the video platform “Meet Your Master” will sell long video lessons from Lauterbach, Schuhbeck & Co., about the stars of their respective industries. A novelty for Germany.

The project can promote careers. Certainly it opens a new – entrepreneurial – career of the TV star Heiner Lauterbach. Together with his wife Viktoria, the 66-year-old pushed the “Meet Your Master GmbH” 18 months ago, both hold 50 percent each.

After many films, after working as a director and voice actor, after two autobiographies and starting as a professor at the Macromedia University in Berlin, a challenge now arises in euros and cents, in assets and liabilities. The Lauterbachs are founders and managing directors. Heiner Lauterbach first told Handelsblatt how this had happened.

Read the complete interview here:

Mr Lauterbach, you are now launching a platform on the Internet where stars of your field, called “Masters”, entertainingly talk about their profession. Should one learn to make a better career?
That would be too short. In times of general uncertainty, there is only one stable currency: knowledge. We believe that learning is fun – for example, when you learn from the best. Our goal is to conscientiously convey content with movie-quality films.

Who had the idea for this?
It was almost like in the movie. One day, when I e-mailed a budding actor to his technical questions, my wife, Viktoria, said I should perhaps give full-time advice. There is no breakfast where I do not teach anything to my children. Mediating is fun. That's why I am also a professor at the Macromedia University in Berlin. We researched a bit and came across “Masterclass” in the USA.

The project is similar to your “Meet Your Master”. That inspired you?
We have already inspired ourselves! Crucial are four pillars: the quality of the films, the IT, the marketing and the 30 employees … (laughs) Since the lawyers are not counted yet.

How much money did you put into the project?
A low seven-digit amount, it is said. But that's relative: for the one who spends the money, it is not low. It is primarily about the most perfect, inviolable product. Our customers and potential investors feel our enthusiasm. We always radiate this project.

Business owners usually want to maximize profits.
The return was not the source of our idea. If I thought so, I would have taken over my father's company. Then I would have been on the safe side. But I have become an actor. Making a lot of money is not disreputable, but it never comes first with me.

Her father had in Cologne, the sanitary company “Lauterbach & Sons”, which at times had 250 employees, but in 2009 went into bankruptcy and now has other owners …
… I have been a one-man company for 40 years.

Did you shape the youth in the entrepreneurial household? You should become a boss and have an installation apprenticeship.
But I did not become it. I told my dad, 'I do not want to fire people.' But an entrepreneur has to do that in case of a case.

The company is under construction. But crises are, entrepreneurially, normal. It may be that one has to separate from employees.
That's what our manager or Viktoria does. We always do 'Good cop, bad cop'.

Founder couple

Lauterbach founded “Meet Your Master GmbH” together with his wife Viktoria.

(Photo: BrauerPhotos / O.Walterscheid)

What can you tell us about the business plan?
We have set a limit on investments. Otherwise you can spend a lot of money very fast. Much of what's important in other startups does not exist here. Either one believes in it or one lets it stay.

Which entrepreneur fascinates you? Axel knight maybe you played on TV?
He was a visionary, incorruptible in his opinion. One who has brought much together, the fight for reunification as well as the reparation for the crimes against Jews.

How many customers should buy the videos in the first, how many in the fifth year?
I do not call such numbers. There is a lot of intuition in our business model. We submit the later deeper analyzes. Credibility is a big factor. And I am humble. But we know, for example, that the range of 'Masterclass' in the US is high and knowledge focuses are becoming more and more popular with Netflix.

Your company is now starting in the German market. What growth plans are there?
We would like to start in the DACH area this year. However, we want to internationalize the long-term.

Which other financiers did you find?
We are open to further investors. We are already in the first talks about this. I'm not from the banking world and do not like terms like content or production value. But I can clarify our concerns as well.

It is said that you talked to well-known founders like Carsten Maschmeyer, Georg Kofler or Thomas Haffa about “Meet Your Master”.
Yes that's true. Everyone was excited. But there is no film where the patterns were not fantastic before – and yet the cinema is not always full. I did not invent that education and video are currently hot topics. What I can guarantee: All our films have first-class quality and first-class content. And that is not in this form, or just damn hard to copy.

Were there any cancellations of personalities that you would like to have seen as a master on your platform?
Gerhard Richter has written a kind letter apologizing for being too old for such formats. Karl Lagerfeld was enthusiastic, but said he no longer had the strength. The instructional videos must be produced for two whole days. Everyone has a lack of time, that's the only major obstacle. It is not easy for any master to get it, except for me, it was a breeze.

Is this worth it for your prominent protagonists?
You are involved in sales.

But why should they even give away their tips and success secrets?
I only asked myself about the poker world champion we want to address. Our Masters do not do that for the sake of money or glory and honor. They all have that. It's about the passionate mediation. To the joy of teaching.

Is there a didactic advice on this learning platform?
Not in the academic sense. The Masters carry the didactics in themselves.

Your customers will not get any feedback about the learning successes. A failure?
We have a 'masterbook' that has many tasks to solve. We work on such a 'controlling' of our own learning. It is quite possible that our clients will personally meet Master later. The ideas are there.

Who are the target persons?
There are three main target groups. The fans of our leading figures are emotionally involved. Then there are the rational users who are dealing with the artisanal tricks. And finally to those who want a life coach business. They are interested in how Jürgen Klopp motivates and assembles teams.

Online course by crime writer Fitzek

(Photo: Meet Your Master / Dieter Rosen)

You expect your product to be eagerly given away. What makes you sure?
We are currently working on a coupon, which leaves it to the recipient, what, or who he chooses. My vision is that in ten decade's time, a desperate father says to his indecisive son, 'Here's a subscription from Meet your Master, there's all about every job in there. This is your casting. ' Then it's no longer about well-known actors, authors, singers or directors as it is today, but about agricultural engineers, dream researchers, carpenters or gardeners who are at their peak in their job.

Now it could play a role that sheds off a bit of the glory of the actors on the paying users. That they get the tools to present themselves in social media like stars.
Might be. But that is not part of my philosophy. In my online class, I ask at first: 'Do you want to become famous or become an actor?' That's an important difference. What matters is to be successful. But that can also be a florist. Our current masters are famous because they are the spearheads. These are our fixed stars.

It is expected to quickly compete for the most popular videos.
We will stoke it. I suspect that the cooking lesson with Alfons Schuhbeck is most attractive. We have emphasized that he speaks extensively in a private atmosphere. He can tell incredible stories about herbs and spices.

Are 89 euros a fair price for a video package?
Incredibly fair! In addition to up to nine hours of exclusive video material in cinematic quality, our users receive 100 to 120 pages of extensive masterbooks that summarize the knowledge they have seen in a condensed form and provide further background information.

A lot of data flows to you in this community when the concept works.
Yes, the bandwidth is extremely high. We build a platform. If it succeeds, you may be able to sell many things that you do not even think about today.

HB: Is that an adventure too?
There is too much at stake for that. In 20 years you might classify it like this. It is first and foremost an extremely meaningful occupation. I've been approached for a lot, like opening a cafe or bar. I do not need that. It is quite another thing to do useful things in society. Who wants to leave a few footprints in the history books, is in good hands with us.

As a young person you would have used such help?
You have to do many experiences yourself. But you do not have to put up with the basics – for example, as a beginner you do not have to annoy the director, but the Second Assistant Director. Or be careful when shooting close-ups: they make a great actor shine and decode a bad one. Many in the industry use the book 'Less is more' by Michael Caine. Had I read it at 18, I would have spared me a lot.

And yet you yourself say that no career without luck is possible.
Luck is also that you have talent. There is nothing worse than successful people who are annoying with their recipes for success and forgetting their luck. But you can also learn to access happiness.

How do you want to promote your new product?
Mainly via social media and word of mouth advertising. The product has to be extremely good, that's the best advertisement. And we'll go on talk shows like Markus Lanz or Giovanni di Lorenzo.

Mr. Lauterbach, thank you for the interview.

More: The actor Heiner Lauterbach wants to bring a platform for life coaching videos on the market. On board: stars like Til Schweiger.

(t) Netflix (t) Springer (t) Lauterbach & Sons (t) Heiner Lauterbach (t) Alfons Schuhbeck

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