The Ruhr area will never let him go completely. It's serious when Tim Ringel says with a laugh: "I'm proud to have grown up in Duisburg. But I think it would have been cooler in Silicon Valley."
Ringel's success story didn't begin in a garage and went as fast as that of Apple founder Steve Jobs. His started with a crate of beer with his nerd clique in Duisburg.
Enthusiastic about computer science from an early age
The high-flyer stays on the ground – even when he's standing on a roof terrace high above the Big Apple: black jeans, black T-shirt, expensive sneakers. understated. He didn't have it that way with school. Instead of learning, gambling was the order of the day. "When I was eleven, somehow everyone had a Commodore 64 or an Amiga, and of course that was the crème de la crème, you could play a lot of games there, that was great. And there was a lot of dealing in the schoolyard – with floppy disks . And I really wanted a computer. I found game consoles boring."
His parents bought him a PC that stood in an extra room at home that Tim was allowed to use for two hours a day. But: "I couldn't do anything with it because nobody had a PC in the schoolyard." So Tim taught himself how to program, threw LAN parties – and had visions.
But the Abitur was not enough for a degree in computer science. He studied economics – half-heartedly. "Besides the university, I administered server systems and clients in Ratingen at the Royal Bank of Scotland," he says.
And at some point he also started his own business along the way. From then on, Ringel and his buddies built websites for companies and promoted them in the search engines. "But what was exciting is that at some point people said: 'Now you've built this site for us, we have it now, but nobody visits it, nobody calls there!' We then took that as an opportunity to deal with it: How do you direct people to a website?"
"I'd like to speak to Google"
Now 46 years old, the start-up sounds like an Internet dinosaur telling stories from the Stone Age. "We were called C&R Internet Services GbR. Internet service, nobody understands that. Well, not at the time. We actually got the call, someone called and said: 'Is there the Internet? Can you print out the page like this for me ?' That's how it was in the late 1990s.
In 1999 he founded the agency "Metapeople" with a business partner – right in the middle of the first big Internet boom. Large companies such as Telekom and E-Plus were already among the customers. In 2001 Google came along. And Ringel was one of the first in Germany to place an order for a customer there. He still remembers the call today:
Establishing a business in the Big Apple
Google invited her to Silicon Valley. Ringel looked at corporate culture. His team preferred to brainstorm at the grill than in the office. He throws his studies away: no time. Ten nerds from the computer science advanced course at a comprehensive school in Duisburg became a shop with 320 people. An internet agency became an online agency with locations in Germany, London, Paris and San Francisco.
In 2011, Ringel sold the agency to Netbooster in France with a turnover of ten to twelve million euros. He went to New York with his wife and two children and wanted to found something. He became CEO of an agency group and then head of Spring Studios, which organizes New York Fashion Week, among other things.
After the Corona break, Ringel founded his own advertising agency Meet the People. "Our model is relatively simple. We say we make it transparent. We don't have to earn any money in the middle. There are no middlemen, we deliver," he explains his business idea. "The customer pays for it and the platforms like us. And we aggregate all the different services in between, the whole service, and try to do integrated advertising campaigns or integrated advertising." It doesn't matter whether a customer is thinking up a brand or wants to advertise on TikTok: "It all has to come from a single source."