Interview with a founder: Henning Sittler on Lean2 and being an entrepreneur

Great companies get their start at the Felt Lab. Henning Sittler is the founder of Lean2. I had the chance to catch up to Sittler to ask him about his new startup.

What is Lean2?Lean2 stands for Interactive Digital Environments & Applications.  Lean2 exposes the Blue Ocean value that the REAP community of professionals, students, and industry partners brings to bear on commercial opportunities for developing and deploying any immersive media presence.  The core Lean2 team already has a wide range of talent from fundamental raw design chops to 3D, augmented reality, interactive touch, video animation, video editing, graphics… you name it.  Lean2′s capabilities will continue to grow as we engage more of our community’s potential.

What compelled you to build this concept?Here we find all these creative minds, with a wide range of experience and skills, spending time collaborating and experimenting and building.  From my own experience, I recognized that not only is there demand (both realized and unrealized) for all manner of digital productions in the commercial sector, but that our community has supply to fill that demand.  That my was my idea.  Lean2 was Dave Goodwin’s idea.  Diane Williamson happened to know of a national retail brand facing an intriguing digital hurdle in search of ideas.  So we collaborated – it’s how it’s done at REAP.What is your background?My background is in customer focus with a consultative approach: identifying and tenaciously working to overcome customer hurdles whatever they may be.  My career grew through serving the global broadcast and media industries in various roles.  My first exposure to broadcast was a combined Product QA/Support position.I started applying web technology to improve processes and service value.  That lead from a development role to corporate web management.  An opportunity arose to build out a ground breaking media network for a national broadcast network in the United States under complicated circumstances for which my combined skills and experience were very well suited.  From there my role seemed to naturally expand into wearing each of the business development, solution architect, and program/project manager hats in order to address the broadcast and media client challenges brought to my attention.  The role and the experience only go so far.  What matters is finding value for the client and delivering it.

What led you to REAP and the Felt Lab?A colleague and friend of mine, a really good natured, patient, and creative guy found REAP and told me about it.  When he mentioned driving to the Felt lab to check it out, I asked if I could tag along.  And the rest is history.How was this relationship with REAP useful in the building of Lean2?Without REAP, it’s not clear that the idea behind Lean2 would have emerged.  REAP and its Felt lab act as a hub bringing talented individuals together with each other and with leading edge interactive media technology.  It’s a cauldron cooking up creativity.  Lean2 provides a means for clients to get a helping of the hot stuff that’s going on inside REAP and the Felt lab.

Wave a magic wand – what would you want to see happen?We’d love for the Lean2 to catch on.  Potential clients don’t know what they don’t know.  If they don’t know what Lean2 can offer, they don’t really know what’s available to them.  Even as I type this, there are countless organizations out there whose staff and representatives are aware of today’s technology but are not at all aware of just how immersive, interactive, and interesting their own engagements, presentations, retail presence, trade show booth, marketing, training, or other communications can be.  We’d love to show them our IDEA.Realistically – what’s the future of Lean2?When the team got started there was so much to do we almost didn’t know where to start.  Working together we quickly got traction and haven’t stopped since.  One can never be sure of the future, but here it looks pretty busy maintaining customer focus with a consultative approach helping to deliver value wherever possible.  And growing all along the way!Would you recommend entrepreneurism?

Who do you think is suited? Startups are all the rage these days.  It’s fun to say “Founder” but it’s not so fun dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.  I recommend an entrepreneurial spirit for everyone in the sense that you can always grow your value by identifying customer needs and addressing them.  On the other hand, taking on the responsibility of entrepreneurism is the conventional sense requires drive and persistence.   Only those who tenaciously look to drive up value should consider the life of the entrepreneur, because it takes sustained growth to overcome all of the nagging barriers facing a startup.  It’s hard work for anyone.

What changes have you made to be an entrepreneur?When it comes to paperwork, I have to remind myself that I’m responsible to myself.  If you thought filling out a weekly timecard for your corporate employer was bad, just wait until you have to fill out everything for contracts, accounting, taxes, … excuse me I just remembered a few things that are soon due.Any last amazing things you would like to talk about?The team!  Glen, David, Dave, Kim, Diane, and others who have helped along the way.  We have an amazing team who are all very fun, ambitious, and great to work with.  We all generate questions and we all reciprocate with answers.  Most importantly, we all just want to make and build and make some more.  To keep doing that, we’re extremely open with ourselves, our fellow REAP community, and with our clients.  It’s amazing to be a part of any such collaborative environment and we always welcome any ideas others can bring.