4 Questions 4: Nathan Williams (Subvise & Hinwise)

Interviews require being in the same place at the same time, or at the very least a (Skype) call, and that is very time-consuming to do. That’s why for my blog, I opted to go for Q&As which I will call “4 Questions 4″ instead. This is not an interview – keep that in mind, when reading “4Q4″! For this edition, I decided to “question” local expat-entrepreneur Nathan Williams.

1) You moved to Berlin from Montreal, Canada. When and why did you decide that you want to make the move to Europe? Did you consider other options than Berlin?

In 2012 I graduated with an MBA from the John Molson School of Business. My wife and I knew it was time to leave Montreal, partly because of the economy, partly to really kick-start a new period in our lives. We had looked at other cities in Canada including Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto, but they were very expensive. Then my wife went on a business trip to Berlin and fell in love with the city. She talked with a few people who told her of the thriving startup scene here. I had worked in startups before and we had always wanted to live in Europe so I said “That’s good enough for me!” I took one German Class at the Goethe institute that September, applied for a visa and came over in February 2013, determined to start a new life in the Berlin Startup Scene.

2) Which things do you see as still missing or lacking in Berlin?

I see a lot of room for improvement in the business regulatory environment. The system here is set up to support traditional business and older industries, and can be a problem for digital, scalable tech startups.

As a small example, there are a number of grant programs in Germany and in Europe that are aimed at startups, angel investors, new tech and so on, but the application period is long and is not meant for an experimental/lean approach. Often the startup either dies or must pivot before the grant money is awarded, and if it pivots it is no longer eligible for the grant.

3) Subvise, your latest startup, is dealing with REACH regulations. Not exactly a “hipster topic”. How did you get to that idea?

I find the best ideas come when you bring two different worlds together. With my previous company, Hinwise, I had been working on a complex data project in the field of forensic accounting. As that project was finishing I started looking for another field that needed solutions to a complex data problem. I talked with a number of people in different fields, and settled on Chemical Regulations because it was such a wide-reaching problem (pardon the pun).

We didn’t expect the outcome though – one would think that most people would find chemical regulations to be an uninteresting topic, but because it’s so rare to find a startup in this field people are often very interested by it.

Read more about Subvise in Nathan’s post on Webmagazin.de.

4) Hinwise is another of your projects. Is there a “branding pattern” emerging here and we will see more -wise and -vise projects from you in the future? 😉

People have suggested that I could call my next project AusWise, and make it something to do with identification, but I don’t really have a good idea yet. 🙂

Thanks to Nathan Williams for answering my questions!

Protip: Click on the 4Q4 tag below to check the other editions of 4Q4.