Philipp Skribanowitz, CEO at Mimi Hearing Technologies
Founded in 2014, Mimi is the world’s leading provider of hearing-based audio optimisation technologies.
Entrepreneur Philipp Skribanowitz founded the company to find the easiest route to better hearing. The company provides digital hearing tests to give a personalised analysis of your own hearing, as well as a portfolio of apps designed to help people hear in different and more efficient ways - whether that's to music or to people around them.
Mimi has conducted years of research on people's level of hearing ability, and won a wide range of international awards.
We sat down with Philipp to hear about his life and work.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I sometimes wish I could be more a creature of habit, but my inclination is to take the stairs even to high floors or to ride my bike to work all year round which has also contributed to my health. I've also got in the habit of visualising my thoughts during conversations with metaphors or drawings, which help me to think and bring messages across.
What’s been your luckiest break?
Subletting office space to my future wife.
What’s your best failure?
Quitting my Ph.D. at the University of St. Gallen. On the one hand, I usually finish what I start and this still sometimes bothers me - however, I would not be where I am now and would not have learned so much building our company, Mimi Hearing Technologies.
What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?
Taking care of my relationship, because waking up to a smile or coming home to an open ear, makes anything so much easier and enjoyable. Probably the best assurance of a fulfilled life.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
I rather see this from a “life” battery perspective. There are activities at work that are giving me a lot of energy (working with great colleagues, finding the solution to a difficult problem, and so on), but also private life matters that are somewhat draining.
I try to increase the amount of charging on both sides, which is a bit work-heavy.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
During university, I read an interview similar to this one in a student magazine, with [social network] XING founder Lars Hinrichs, asking him which book impacted him the most. He recommended Malcolm Gladwell’s 'Tipping Point'. Although being a difficult book in retrospect, it was literally the tipping point for me reading these kinds of books and applying them to my thinking.
My recommendation would be to read a large variety of books; timeless classics and also more contemporary ones. One that's maybe not so obvious is the children’s book 'Emotionary' by Cristina Núñez Pereira. It's a good starting point to better understand and describe one’s own and others' emotions, which for me is key to being a good leader today.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I think I would have explained to myself the concept of radical candor, so I would have given people earlier the direct feedback that encourages them to grow, even if at first it seems to hurt.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Even though my grandfather died in my teenage years, he as a role model instilled lots of values and ambition in his grandchildren - sometimes hard to live up to, but I know he wanted us to find our own way.
In the later years, Christophe Maire from Atlantic Labs (also our founding investor at Mimi) has been a huge influence and important mentor. It is amazing to see his genuine interest in topics and his desire to build great companies. While I was working with him at Atlantic, I had a chance to observe how he “massages” issues and finds solutions that are best for everyone involved.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
Through playing underwater rugby and free diving, I ended up as an underwater cameraman for a Swiss surf documentary.
What does success look like to you?
For me, success is finding the right balance and greatest overlap between doing the things I enjoy today and the things that I'll look back on in 50 years, thinking they were “the right thing” to do.
After tackling hearing loss with Mimi, I would like to do something around anti-desertification since it touches a lot of topics that are worthwhile (climate change, local empowerment, migration, education, etc.)