Nils Wollny, 39
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
It was an internship at Springer & Jacoby, which at the time was Mercedes-Benz’s lead advertising agency and considered a trendsetter in the sector. I simply love the emotions that cars evoke in us.
Your greatest achievement?
Establishing holoride together with my two co-founders. We decided more had to be done to prioritize the passenger’s in-car experience. We convinced Audi’s board of management that the right way to tackle the immersive in-vehicle entertainment market was by spinning us off as an independent startup. This meant giving up the proprietary ownership of intellectual property and technology for the benefit of the whole automotive industry. It’s an innovative, unique and daring approach. I am still grateful for the opportunity we were given.
Family: Wife, Catharina; son, Benedikt, infant
Born: Luebeck, Germany
Languages: German, English
Education: Degree in foreign trade/international management, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Every little mistake that occurs during my daily business life is an opportunity to learn. That is why curiosity is a core value at holoride. Curiosity drives us to look for new possibilities. It also allows us to reach our inner child, to be playful and also to let go. This philosophy inevitably creates mistakes to learn from. I believe the only inexcusable mistakes are those that occur as a result of negligence or laziness, or those that happen more than once.
What is your current challenge at work?
Creating the best passenger experience possible. We are working with the best content studios, developers and car manufacturers to offer entertainment as well as educational and productivity options in the car. In many ways it’s uncharted territory, which keeps me on my toes.
2019-present: CEO and co-founder, holoride, Munich
2015-2019: Head of digital business, Audi, Ingolstadt, Germany
2013-2015: Managing director, SinnerSchrader, Hamburg, Germany
2009-2013: Managing partner, thjnk (formerly known as Kempertrautmann), Hamburg
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Happiness comes from solving problems,” which is from a book by Mark Manson. Solving problems is an ongoing effort because the solutions to today's challenges will create new and different problems in the future. It’s an infinite journey.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Think beyond the car’s traditional model. Think in terms of services, not products. Try to figure out what experiences aren’t yet available in the car but should be in the future. Keep an eye out for what will revolutionize the industry and sustain its importance for decades to come. Never accept an answer that claims something can’t work. Be curious, empathic and kind.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
This might be hard to believe but I have found my dream job. Being an entrepreneur at the crossroads of mobility, entertainment and tech combines all the things that I find fulfilling. Now I am looking forward to hiring other talented people to join our team.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy watching movies as well as spending time with my family and friends.
What is your dream location to live?
I would like it to be a place that’s both inspiring and vibrant.
What is your favorite driving song?
My wife has way better taste in music than I do. She’s in charge of managing the playlists for our road trips. I get to decide on what driving game we will play while on the road.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
Traveling through California by car is something I enjoy every time I have the chance to do so. I’m a big fan of the Pacific Coast Highway, especially the 17-Mile Drive, and it’s fun to take in cruise down roads such as Topanga Canyon Boulevard or Mulholland Drive.
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen Golf.
I use mobility services such as Uber, Free Now and Sixt.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
It would have to be a car that features holoride on board.