Tobias Gillen is the managing partner of BASIC thinking GmbH – a modern media company with four magazines, more than 220,000 social media contacts, and a total of about 100 million visual contacts per year. He has over 10 years of professional experience as a journalist (print, online, radio) that has given him a comprehensive view of the media world, which is now his home as an entrepreneur. Tobias is also an author and his first book »Spurlos und Verschlüsselt!« (2014) was followed in autumn 2019 by the »Minimalism Formula«. With the publication of this book, he started the project »We plant«. His goal is to plant 100,000 trees through his projects.

How did you conceive the idea for BASIC thinking GmbH and what was your mission at the outset?

Actually, it was not my idea. We bought the online magazine ‘BASIC thinking’ back in 2015 and tried a different approach in monetizing journalism without banner ads and trackers. We think the best way to monetize journalism is through high-quality native advertising like sponsored posts. Over the years we showed that this is actually a legit way of publishing great journalism without any annoying ads.

Are successful entrepreneurs born or made? In which category do you fall? 

This is an interesting question because I think about this a lot. I believe that I was born with it, but needed to develop the mindset to take full advantage of it. I’m very thankful that I got the chance to do so, with BASIC thinking. Otherwise, I probably never would have known that being an entrepreneur is my passion.

What, according to you, determines the reach of the content? What practices should one adopt to build a loyal customer base?

That’s totally individual for every business. I believe that you need to think outside the box and be creative to reach your customers. But in the end, the quality of your product or service always decides whether a potential customer chooses you over your competitors.

To what extent has social media been effective in the digital journey and what opportunities does it hold for the future?

Via social media, you can build up trust and a connection with your customers. This is one of the most important things you can do in your business. This – in my opinion – won’t change in the near future. There might be other channels, but there will always be something that you can use to reach out to your customers.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?  What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?

That’s easy: Start! As I mentioned earlier, sometimes you don’t know what skills you might have and the only way to find out is to try. Business is always trying, failing, learning, improving, and then back to the start. You need to love that game…


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