Often what is reported in the business press is without context; businesses rise, businesses fail, and what is behind these outcomes is usually confined to a sound bite in Business Week or on CNN. Behind every company, large or small, is the IDEA that created it, and behind that are the INDIVIDUALS that gave that idea life. Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc., don’t exist in a vacuum, and you can be sure they’ve faced many unique obstacles to get to the position they’ve achieved – and once they’re “there”, that brings a whole new set of challenges.
Eurocheddar is starting a new monthly profile column aimed at looking at the personalities behind businesses, and attempting to illuminate what made them successful and, more importantly, inspirational.
“A life less ordinary” would be an apt catchphrase to describe Lars Windhorst. This story begins with a boy, who by the age of 15 was assembling computers, writing software, and selling the machines from his father’s humble garage in the small town of Rahden, Germany.What started as a moderate, local success, soon became a global initiative after realizing that the domestic market couldn’t fulfill his ambitions. Windhorst, soon traveled to China (still as a teenager) to secure cheap components and ended up in a partnership with a Chinese entrepreneur. While most of his peers were busy worrying about acne and video games, Windhorst had, by the mid-90’s, created a global empire with an annual turnover of more than 200m DM.
The German press dubbed him “wunderkind” and the Chinese were no less glowing in their appreciation. But, like all miraculous ascensions (and Hollywood story arcs), Windhorst was caught out, like many others, when the boom times of information technology and the “new economy” hit turbulent waters. He filed for insolvency several years ago, only to re-emerge phoenix-like in May of this year, holding a brand new CEO position for global investment company, Sapinda Deutschland GmbH.
The resilience and drive to not be a victim of circumstance, make someone like Windhorst always worth watching and always an interesting case study in not ever counting out an individual with that amount of entrepreneurial intuition and audacity.
Something tells me many more chapters will be written about this man, and after all, he’s still only thirty-three years old.