The Madgician S01E02 | Mastering customer journeys, brand relevance & patience - the three attributes for business success with Kristina Stroedter, Co-Founder and Managing Director at  TEAMSPORTS.AI

The Madgician S01E02 | Mastering customer journeys, brand relevance & patience - the three attributes for business success with Kristina Stroedter, Co-Founder and Managing Director at TEAMSPORTS.AI

Most of the time, success is outside of what you already know. It's outside of the charted map! Episode 2 of The Madgician: A podcast with women entrepreneurs is live now on Spotify! 

In this episode, Kristina Stroedter, Co-Founder and Managing Director at TEAMSPORTS.AI, shared valuable input on mastering customer journeys, maintaining brand relevance, and the importance of having #patience when launching a new brand.   

“In the end, it's about consumer journeys. We need to be in those consumer journeys. We need to lift and experience them. I think that only after facing a problem yourself will you know how to solve it and come up with a solution.”

About Dr. Kristina Stroedter 

Dr. Kristina Stroedter, currently working as the Co-Founder and Managing Director at TEAMSPORTS.AI, has a strong background in business and strategic planning. With extensive experience at Nike in various leadership positions, including Business Director Clubs, Feds & Players, Strategic Account Director, and World Cup 2018 Lead, Dr. Kristina has also held roles at Vivaldi Partners Group and The Boston Consulting Group. Dr. Stroedter holds a PhD in Wirtschaftswissenschaften from Justus Liebig University Giessen, along with a Diplom Kauffrau in Wirtschaftswissenschaften.

What you’ll learn by listening: 

  • Entrepreneurship in tech vs entrepreneurship in fashion
  • Creating meaningful customer journey experiences for your brand
  • The importance of assessing & prioritizing the customer journey to fit your venture 
  • The essence of strategic thinking and ways to cultivate it
  • How does a small brand stay relevant? When the key is patience 
  • Lessons learned from fashion titans: Farfetch or Nike
  • Breaking barriers: overcoming challenges in female entrepreneurship and building resilience
  • Prioritizing marketing resources as a small brand

Enjoy listening on Spotify! 

Podcast transcription: 

My name is Georgiana. I've been an entrepreneur in digital marketing since 2014 and recently I started creating custom high heels. This podcast is with women entrepreneurs who work their magic day after day, at home and work. I'll be interviewing them to find out useful tips and tricks that can help you start or scale your business. Stay tuned! 

Georgiana: Good morning, everyone, on a new episode of The Madgician Podcast. This is a podcast that I've started very recently, and it's for and with women entrepreneurs. I've started talking to some of my closest friends. To escape the stage fright, if I can say so, although it's not my first podcast, I'm super nervous about it. However, I'm extremely excited to be talking to another close friend this morning, and she will be sharing a lot of entrepreneurship tips and tricks.

Before I introduce her and before she introduces herself properly, I would like to say that for everyone listening to this podcast, there is a 20 % discount on my brand of shoes, which is called The MAD Shoes with the code PODCASTMADNESS. 

Good morning, Christina. Kristina Stroedter is my guest this morning. So happy to be talking to you today. 

Kristina Stroedter: Good morning. Pleasure to be here. It's my first podcast, actually. 

Georgiana: No way. This cannot be. 

Kristina Stroedter: This just like, it doesn't exist. People who haven't done the podcast anymore. I'm one of them or I was one of them.

Georgiana: Wow. This is unbelievable. I didn't know that. Well, for me, it's the second episode, so I'm still kind of fresh at this whole new context. But that's weird. I thought everyone in tech in Berlin kind of has had at least a podcast, uh, involvement, some podcast involvement. 

Kristina Stroedter: I'm a true podcast virgin.

Georgiana: Okay. Okay. But that's because you are actually at the intersection between fashion and tech. And maybe that's why tech podcasts haven't been really extended. So please tell me what you do. You've worked a long, long time for Nike. Now you have your own venture. Please let us know what this new, exciting venture is about. 

Kristina Stroedter: "I think I'm very much in between. This is what I heard all my life. My CV doesn't follow the normal rules. I worked in consulting, focusing on strategy and consumer journeys. Then I joined Nike because throughout my career, sports was a big part of my life. I always thought I would like to work in sports because that is my passion and my job combined. 

But in Germany, the big companies sit in Herzog and Aura, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I didn't want to move there. So I started my consulting career and then came to Nike more by coincidence. I applied for a job at Converse, working with a headhunter, waiting for a different position until they finally moved on in the process. A couple of weeks later, I got a message from Nike if I wanted to start there. I moved to Amsterdam and worked there first in strategic planning, taking care of the Eastern European markets. It was amazing because we always had minimum two wars going on there. I learned crisis management a lot. 

Then I did different roles. My next boss asked me if I would know someone who would like to organize the 2018 Russia Football World Cup, and I was six months pregnant. So that's how I then ended up in football. In football, there's a lot of e-commerce, digitalization, and commerce. When working with retailers as a strategic account director, I realized that the digital journey is broken in selling things. You have a URL somewhere with a mattress. How do I get consumers there? This is the biggest thing in brick-and-mortar retail. You would never put a store in the middle of nowhere and then try to get the customers over. You would put the store where the people are. 

So this is when I finally made the step and left Nike to lead TEAMSPORTS.AI, where we're doing exactly that. We started with building communities and putting a store next to it. Now we have developed to looking where the online communities are and putting the store right in the center so that nobody actually has an excuse and it's just the most convenient way to shop. And this is where I am. 

Georgiana: It is where you are and you have been doing it for how many years now? Three? Four? Two and a half. Two and a half. Right. Seems like a lot longer because you've accomplished so much in the meantime. And I'd like to ask you how, how does it feel? Because for sure it must feel challenging at times to not be in a safe environment.

Do you miss it? The stability of Nike? 

Kristina Stroedter: I miss it. It's so convenient and stable. And you know that just like your income it's coming, it's coming, it will be there until there's like restructuring, et cetera. That is the, that is the, um, the flip side of it. But, um, overall it's, it's great.

It's great to be in a safe environment. You have a lot of people around you. Sometimes around me, it gets very lonely in the beginning. Now my team is growing, but in the beginning I was sometimes just like, okay, where is everyone? Um, and it's, it's, it wasn't, it wasn't that easy. Um, the ups and downs, um, it's difficult.

Also just like, um, sometimes, and I have to look after everything at Nike, just like, okay, you're Take it. There's room full with paper and pencils. If you have an IT problem, you go to the IT help desk or you just call someone and it's solved. Now it's just like, just me. 

Georgiana: I know. And although you learn so many things, By doing them yourselves. I had many moments throughout these past 10, 12 years, where I just wanted to just drop it. I cried many times being feeling powerless and annoyed whenever my website got hacked, for example, because you were mentioning it. And although my husband works in it and runs it, he never has time to deal with these things.

So I was always trying to fix things myself and I'm, you know, finding myself, like I said, powerless and annoyed and disappointed and wondering, is this really what I'm supposed to be doing? Cause many times feels like it's just me and my colleague, you know, there's a team of two with some external collaborators and many, many times it just feels like I'm working on my own.

Kristina Stroedter: I think there's a lot of skills I've acquired that I don't really want to have. 

Georgiana: You are right, there's accounting involved, there's tech, social media, marketing, there's a lot to be done. But speaking of all these multitudes of competencies that we have to possess that's life. And I think it's all the more required because for you, because your business sits somehow at the intersection of tech and fashion or tech and sports. And I'd like to ask you, where do you feel it sits more out of these two areas? And then if you've managed so far to tell a difference between entrepreneurship in tech, as opposed to entrepreneurship in sports or fashion.

Kristina Stroedter: Where does it, where does it sit? Um, I think I always see myself like if I would give me a title, I'm a consumer journey expert, and that is what I'm really good at. It's just, I know how to design consumer journeys. I know how to understand consumers, how they shop, what they need, the bottlenecks, the frictions, that is what I'm, what I'm good at.

I think the tech part in my company. Sits with my developing team that sits with my developers. And that is where the, where the tech goes. This is where I handed over is a kind of understand what they are doing. I understand what is possible, but just doing it, um, No, that's what, that's, it's what my team is working on.

So is it, we are a consumer-driven company. It's about consumer needs and everything is about the consumer. Our consumer is the athlete. And this is we where we sit in sports. Just like I see my mission in making it easier for people to do sports. And that can be a pro athlete. This is with the specific apps that we're doing there.

It's about making being pro easier, um, serving the 365 of an athlete, but it's also helping families to organize their time better, um, to have more time for sports and get the inspiration to do sports. sports with their children, just like my dream is that not all boys play football and the girls do ballet, um, but maybe some start with all those other, those other sports that just are, uh, very specific and, uh, yes, so that they have more, more diversity in sports out there.

Georgiana: Wow, this is impressive. And I'm loving this podcast already. I've loved it before I've started it. But now that I already spoken to two amazing women, I'm learning so much from what you're saying. And I'm, you know, my, my, my, my wheels are functioning. Inside my brain now thinking how I can reach more communities for my shoes.

This is something that I've, I kind of knew I had to do, but didn't really get to do it yet. And then assessing the customer journey more thoroughly. This is very valuable input. I like this. I like this very much. 

Kristina Stroedter: I like making, making a chapel in the moment that you actually need things. So, uh, why don't dating apps have a shop, uh, into a dating app, um, with makeup, clothes, and your shoes.

Cause I think just like when you finally go on a date and, and you have found someone on a dating app that you actually want to meet, um, you're thinking about what am I wearing? Just like, that is the vulnerable moment. Be there. And this is where you want to sell your shoes or, um, on your, on a, on the website of an opera house.

Uh, when you finally, you've got the tickets for, I don't know, um, that [00:13:00] event. Um, You're, you need mad shoes. Um, this is, this is where your shoes should be. This is 

Georgiana: the type of out of the box thinking that I just love. I think it's, it's so out there and it shows that you've worked in strategic planning and that you're a true strategic thinker because most of the time, most of the time, success is outside of what you already know. It's outside of the charted map. Unbelievable. 

Kristina Stroedter: And it's making, it's making it easier. Cause when, when do you think about buying something new? It's just like not, Ooh, it's just, Oh, I got ticket for that event. What am I going to wear? I got invited to that birthday party. What am I going to wear? It's just, it's all those, the event and then the shoes. It will just be quite a journey to convince an Opera house to integrate a shop into their website. 

Georgiana: I'm having a hard time right now, convincing the traditional fashion houses or not houses, I wouldn't call them houses, fashion selling points to, uh, to sell a small brand that nobody's heard about yet. I mean, but you know, I'm in, in it for the long run and I'm, uh, Um, I intend to, to stay relevant and to try other channels as well. And I'm sure some of our listeners are going to find this very, very useful. 

Kristina Stroedter: Especially the opera house owners.

Georgiana: For sure. These crazy women, things they come up with, right, would be cool. But you know, I'm thinking because I started this fashion brand. So I sit now at the intersection of fashion and consulting, not really tech anymore. I still do a lot of HR consulting, employer branding, and some digital marketing, but fashion is a totally new world for me. And I get envious. With Nike, Zara, and H&M and all their resources and new collections, I'll never be able to keep up with that. I don't want to because my target group is elsewhere. But how does a small brand stay relevant? It just seems impossible nowadays.

Kristina Stroedter: First, be patient. Nike, Zara, and H&M weren't built in a day. It takes time and the relationships they've built up over time. If you've read Shoe Dog, especially the first chapters about Phil Knight's struggles, you'll see he's gone through what we are going through. Be patient. Your time will come. Be persistent, have the stamina, and keep doing what you're doing every day.

To stay relevant, understand where you want to be. Do you aspire to be like Nike or Adidas, with constant newness? They release new products almost weekly, leveraging influencers, athletes, and marketing power. But is that where you want to be in 2024? These brands also need to change; constant new releases aren't sustainable. 

We don't need more things in our closet; we need quality, sustainable items that last longer and offer flexibility. Less is more, and we're gradually moving in that direction. Fast fashion is one thing, but Mad shoes is very slow.

Georgiana: Really slow fashion. 

Kristina Stroedter: Trust building is the difficult part in the beginning. This is what I learned with my business. I came with an amazing network from the industry. Now, I finally realized at the end of last year, damn, people trust me. Building trust over the years gives me confidence. You need influencers and brands in this phase. You need the first store that lists your products, then you are the brand. The first step is always the most difficult. Once you have that retailer, the dominoes will fall.

Georgiana: Yeah, yes, I know. But like, like you said, patience is a virtue and it's something that I've kind of always lacked and I think every venture of this sort just tests you in ways that you've never imagined and testing your patience is definitely something that.

Kristina Stroedter: I don't have patience. 

Georgiana: But who does, you know, we're used to. We're used to having things our way quickly and we've imagined them somehow and we've made this mental plan and then, whoops, although I've worked in marketing all my life, I'm discovering that the target group for my shoes changes.

Constantly, and the people I thought would buy them are not the people who are actually buying them. So it's, it's transformative and it's always evolving and that's why it's exciting and it's nerve wracking same time, you know, but I was wondering, what can we learn from companies like Farfetch or Nike because they must learn us things, teach us things for sure. . 

Kristina Stroedter: Patience. Keep trying. Never, never, never give up. Keep trying. I think that is, the Nike story is, um, Nike was, they were convinced of what they were doing, so they kept doing what they were doing. They had to clear, And just, um, bringing shoes that are just like more adequate for sports. Um, and that are also cheaper than the, than the, um, German brands, which was like until they were shipped to the US, et cetera, were just like so expensive.

They were focusing on service and customer relationships, really honing in on the consumer. They were crazy, working with athletes that nobody knew. Nobody knew Michael Jordan at that time, only a certain community. They were placing bets and believing in what they were doing, just keep doing it. In one of my first weeks, coming from consulting, I presented a competition analysis to our sales VP at Nike. He looked at me and said, "We're number one. I really don't care what the competition is doing because we need to keep doing what we're doing." That's a big asset; don't look left and right. If you copy number two, you might become number two. Just believe in yourself and keep doing what you're doing.

Georgiana: I think you are a hundred percent right about this. This, uh, regard of the competition. Not in a way where you don't, where, where you aren't aware of what they're doing, [00:22:00] but in the way that you do your own thing. It's something that I've always told my clients whenever I worked for these tech startups who were, who had trouble and who were struggling to get off the ground to get some, some traction to the website, they were always asking.

But what are our competitors doing? And I always told them, it doesn't matter. You believe in your own dream, you do your own strategy. And we are, of course, aware of what's happening in the market, but we have to keep on doing what we're doing. So, yes, I think it's, um, this is a valuable piece of advice. 

Kristina Stroedter: And it's difficult.

Georgiana:It is, of course. Nowadays, I stumble onto these new shoe brands, reading articles about successful entrepreneurs developing their brands. When I check their start dates, it's often 2014 or 2016. For me, it's been less than a year. So I think I might as well wait a little longer. 

Kristina Stroedter: You need to have your Sex and the City moment. Just get placed in a series like that, and Mad Shoes will be everywhere. But that's luck. You can't count on these things.

Georgiana: You cannot just at some point, somebody finds you and says, Hey, would you be willing to? And then, yeah, that's when the magic happens probably, but, um, stepping away from, from marketing and fashion and tech and sports for a little bit. And coming back to womanhood and motherhood, which we both share, what do you think are the main struggles for women who have their own businesses?

We know them, but let's state them. You know, for the record, , 

Kristina Stroedter: I think that the most difficult thing that's inside us is just we want [00:24:00] to be perfect at everything. And then just like, oh, a brain starts. Um, and just keeps telling us just like that we're, that we are bad in our jobs. That we are bad at mother bad mothers, that we just fail at everything.

I always thought. I had the, um, description of myself that I'm a part-time mom because I was working full time. Until I finally realized, no, I'm an entrepreneur, and I am a full-time mom. Uh, because I just like, no, I'm not just like the women that, you know, work part-time or stay at home. They're full-time moms, but just, no, we're all full-time moms.

There is no such thing as a part-time mom. It doesn't exist. Um, I think it's just the, the way that also we have been, we have learned, um, maybe from our, also from our parents, that was a different generation and the role of my mother, um, was different. 

We have learned these things to just like make our husbands a pleasant life and make the house needs to look tidy and clean and all these things and spend and all those rules about children and so we're just like scared of that.

failing all the time. And it just all comes from our brain. This is my mom talking, and this is the media talking, and this is the, the history of motherhood talking. 

Georgiana: Grandmothers, aunts, cousins. Yes. The village. 

Kristina Stroedter: Yes, the way they, they do it. And they, all appear to just like be be amazing at it but um and we always pretend that everything is going well but well no 

Georgiana: No, of course not. But one thing is for certain: we're all suffering from imposter syndrome, all of us. Even my successful friends are always doubting themselves. You look at Instagram and think, "Oh, she seems to have her life so well put together." They look amazing while doing it. But when you speak to them, you find out they're going through exactly the same things we are. Unbelievable.

Kristina Stroedter: Yes, I just had my kid, now in second grade. He hated learning to read. He didn't understand why he needed to learn to read because he wanted to become a football pro and didn't think reading was necessary. It just didn't click for him. Then, a few weeks ago, a teacher came to me surprised because he's reading like everybody else now. At home, he was always interested in reading what he liked but struggled with what he didn't. The teacher thanked me for being patient, but I was faking it. It was freaking me out. I was talking to my therapist about it, obsessed and analyzing what could be wrong. Then, from one day to another, he started reading the news on my phone, telling me about players' injuries. It was because the other kids knew how to read and he felt left out. 

Georgiana: There aren't many. maybe they are. 

Kristina Stroedter: But everybody will, will learn.

Georgiana: I know what you mean for me. It hasn't been connected to a link up, but I've had similar locations where I doubted myself and where it seemed like I'm failing at this particular project and it's happening because I didn't put enough effort into it. And and why me? In the end, why me? But, uh, yeah, patience.

Kristina Stroedter: Yes, it's so difficult. I think it's a female trait, getting unsolicited advice that doesn't necessarily make things better. Media and marketing play into this too, as you start buying all the books and everything hoping it will help. It gives a sense of relief, like you're doing something, even though patience might have been all that was needed.

Georgiana: Patience. Yeah, it's not just with you. I have a full stack of parenting books that I bought before Ilinka was born, during pregnancy, and after. Now I look at them and think, "First of all, there's just one idea throughout all of them." You don't know anything. It's really not like that. But now I know, it's been almost 8 years. 

I have the experience to say I'm never buying any more parenting books. They're not all bad, of course. I've learned valuable information, but every kid is different. If you're a decent human being with respect for the kid and others, things turn out okay. You raise respectful adults who respect you and the world around them. Maybe that's just me. We don't have a lot of time left, and I want to come back to a valuable marketing point. How do you prioritize marketing resources as a small brand?

Kristina Stroedter: It's a difficult one because there aren't many resources, so it's challenging. I know. I think I really need to focus on what's essential in terms of marketing. I'm lucky because we're B2B, so networking is crucial, and that's where I'm investing to expand my network. That's most important for me right now. I'm not at the budget level where I can push things like our looping app with Google AdWords or social media ads. I'd love to involve my influencer network, but for now, I believe in collaborations. Looping Up is a great example—it's a family app, and I've started to connect with other brands targeting the same audience. 

We support each other, share reach, and grow without spending anything. This is how I'm building my network around family brands. I want to delve deeper into this approach because I've discovered so many great brands with fantastic products. By forming our own little circles, sharing, and promoting each other, we can work with little budgets and be sustainable. Finding brands with similar audiences, whether it's a jewelry brand or a sustainable makeup brand, allows for cross-promotion and increased visibility, ultimately leading to more conversions.

Georgiana: Yeah. And every bit helps in the end. Yeah. Little steps that build your way, I guess. 

Kristina Stroedter: Share networks. This, I think this is also very valuable. This is just like what, what I started to do is, um, I meet someone just like, Oh, you have the same audience. I know this brand, this brand, this brand. Can I connect you?

And they, Oh yeah. And I know like these three brands that would be just like really relevant for you. Let's connect. And this is just, um, making it so much [00:35:00] Faster. We are sometimes I think network. Oh, that's it. That's an important. It's important asset and you need to safeguard it. I think a network is a network for being open.

And just like if I share networks with someone, it's so easily and it's twice as big and there is no, of course. There's no wear out effect to a network, it just makes it stronger if you share it. 

Georgiana: You are very right and it has been in our, in me and my colleagues mind for a while now to start reaching out to additional vendors, not necessarily shoe vendors, but connected sustainable brands.

So yes, thank you. Thank you for that point. Um. I'm wondering, where do you find your inspiration? Your day to day inspiration? I think this is my, yeah, this was my, one of my last questions. And, uh, how do you transfer these bits of creativity into what you do? 

Kristina Stroedter: Where do I find my inspiration? I think my kid is my inspiration. I work in sports, and he loves sports. That's how I go through my routines; I'm my own muse, my own consumer number one. Everything I experience, along with observing people around me, inspires me. School is my focus group—I observe everyone, looking for bottlenecks or friction points that inspire me. Managing my work and mom life together is important to me. I enjoy working from the football pitch because I see a lot there. Engaging in various sports activities with my kid inspires me. Whenever I notice something that could be smoother, that's where my inspiration comes from. One insight is that the most amazing ideas rarely come when you're sitting behind your desk.

Georgiana: Definitely 

Kristina Stroedter: You have it just like somewhere. It's somewhere.

Georgiana: Where you feel inspired. 

Kristina Stroedter: Yes, and that's why I've realized that work isn't just sitting behind my desk. It's what I do in my head, and sometimes I need to go out to see new things. I try to be more flexible with my working time, but I still feel bad if I miss tennis or soccer. However, going out gives me a lot of inspiration, and that's where I draw many of my ideas from. It's what matters to me.

Georgiana: Makes a lot of sense because I think the best ideas I've ever had happened while taking a walk with my dog or with Ilinca, or after seeing an exhibition, watching a movie, or checking out some fancy clothes online. Somehow, some neural pathways are being opened, and then a click happens.

Kristina Stroedter: Yes, because in the end, it's about consumer journeys, and we need to be in those consumer journeys. We need to live them, experience them. If you've truly faced a problem yourself, then you understand what it means to solve it. You're able to come up with a solution that's 100 percent, not just somewhat making it better.

Georgiana: Very inspiring. We will be quoting you for sure. In many places. 

Kristina Stroedter: And we can help you with the Oprah House online shop. So, thank you so much. 

Georgiana: Much appreciated. Um, Christina, I'd like us to, to end on a, not on a positive note because everything has been positive. How should I put it? On something that we can draw inspiration and learning from, and that's by asking you what are the most valuable lessons you've learned so far that you can share with us.

Kristina Stroedter: I'm human, I'm allowed to fail, and I've failed a lot. So far, I've always gotten back on my feet. That's what I also keep telling my kid because I've failed big and I've fallen deep. But we got up again. So what in life is ever holding you back? When you fall, you get back on your feet, and that's okay.

Georgiana: And we tend to forget it, but you're absolutely right. We always do get back on track. Yes, and we always do. Oh, that's lovely. It's been so, so lovely speaking to you, Kristina. This felt not like a podcast, not like an interview, but like a friendly chat that we would normally have in Berlin over drinks, and we'll be doing that for sure soon as well. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed our talk. All the best to you, and thank you once again. Good luck with your venture. 

Back to blog