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In April 2022, the first edition of the Unfold event took place in the Bierhübeli in Bern, which was brought to life by our partner Cleverclip – and of course, we from statworx were there as well. The event’s motto was “Out of your own industry, into the unknown: Together, we’ll take new angles and broaden our horizons.”

An afternoon full of keynotes on future-oriented topics, networking sessions, and much more was on the agenda! We also actively participated in the event: Our colleague Livia Eichenberger gave (with a little state-of-the-art help 👀) a keynote on Bias in AI. As sponsors of the event, we also had a booth on site. What struck me immediately upon entering the event hall at the Bierhübeli was the incredible atmosphere and the diverse, mixed audience. The stage was set!

The talks at Unfold 2022

At the heart of the event were the keynotes on topics so diverse I can’t even summarize them here. Thus, let me dive straight into sharing my insights from the talks with you:

Talk 1: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hack

“Calling yourself sustainable as a company has exactly the opposite effect on customers.” Prof. Dr. Andreas Hack explored this statement in his keynote on sustainability. His key messages were:

  • The image of a company in terms of sustainability has much more to do with the credibility of the company or brand than with how an individual sustainability campaign is structured.
  • Credibility in any aspect, even beyond sustainability, is essential for people to believe a company is sustainable.
  • Caution: Heavily promoted sustainability campaigns can sometimes have little or even the opposite effect. As an example, Prof. Dr. Hack cited a campaign by Krombacher in which 1m^2 of rainforest is preserved for every crate of beer. He humorously called the campaign: “We’re boozing for the rainforest”.

Talk 2: Livia Eichenberger

“We come into contact with AI every day – we just don’t realize it most of the time.” That was the teaser of our colleague Livia’s keynote. But her keynote went even further, highlighting the risks inherent in the application of AI technologies. Unfortunately, Livia could not attend Unfold in person and deliver her keynote. But she found a virtual helper without further ado, the AI avatar Rosa. 🦾🤖 So the message of the keynote could still be delivered in the Bierhübeli. Particular takeaways include the following:

  • Human biases are reflected in the data on which AI systems are trained. If left unaddressed, these biases will be transferred to AI systems.
  • For unbiased AI, we need a diverse AI community!
  • If we do it right, we as a society can work hand in hand with AI systems to break the bias in society. The time to act is now!

Talk 3: Alan Frei

Alan Frei’s philosophy is, “To build a company, you need one thing in the beginning: nothing!” With this motto in mind, Alan took people on his journey as an entrepreneur, giving us his 10 takeaways for launching a startup, including:

  • Focus: focus on one idea.
  • Target group: Work on a problem that affects you.
  • No fear: Don’t be afraid to fail; Alan’s list of fails barely fit on a slide at font size 10 (thanks for your honesty Alan!).
  • Fun Fact: Alan has now made it his goal to compete for the Philippines in the 2026 Winter Olympics. When asked about the discipline, the only response was, “We have yet to find out.” 🤔

Talk 4: Jürg Grossen

“Switzerland can become a pioneer in environmental and climate protection with a high level of innovation and openness.” Jürg Grossen is sure of that. What we need to do for this:

  • Have the ability to be self-sufficient in a case of emergency.
  • A more efficient use of electricity. An end to waste! IOT can be a helper, as Jürg Grossen has also impressively demonstrated in his own company.
  • A substantial investment in solar energy.

Talk 5: Nicholas Hänny

For Nicholas Hänny, founder of Nikin, one thing is certain: “It’s not about the idea, it’s about the implementation.” Specifically, Nicholas is talking about marketing and branding here. My takeaways from his humor-laced keynote were:

  • Not every marketing post or campaign needs to be meticulously planned; it can be helpful to actively post what you are thinking or doing.
  • Nikin originally wanted to become a skater brand. When Nicholas and his team realized that other people were buying their products, they quickly abandoned that plan.
  • The Forest Office doesn’t exist 😭 For more info on the Forest Office, see here.

Afterparty

After the talks and a subsequent very active networking session, the action shifted to the newly “jungle-look” Cleverclip Office in the heart of Bern. We spent the evening with a beer or two, wonderful people, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Unfold goes into the second round in 2023

Curious now? Cleverclip has already announced the date for the follow-up event of Unfold. On March 30, 2023, Unfold will take place again at Bierhübeli in Bern. You can find all the info on the website: https://unfold-event.ch/

We would like to thank Ceverclip again for the excellent organization. See you next year! Stephan Müller

Intro

This year, statworx participated in the START Summit x Hack for the first time. START took place at the OLMA Messen in St. Gallen and was organized by students of the University of St. Gallen – my alma mater. This double event consisted of the START Summit, Europe’s leading student conference on entrepreneurship and technology, and the START Hack, Europe’s most entrepreneurial hackathon. More than 3.500 founders, investors, students, and visitors from all over the world joined the event. Since statworx was the main prize sponsor of the START Hack, our CEO, Sebastian Heinz, was part of the jury that selected the hackathon’s winning team. In addition, part of our Swiss and AI Ventures team was present at our booth at the START Summit fair. After two very exciting, impressive, and insightful days, I would like to share my seven key takeaways with you.

7 Key Takeaways From Start Summit X Hack 2022

AI is everywhere

Not only were almost all of the hackathon solutions data-driven, but there were also many startups and companies at the fair with AI products and services, such as the AI dentist from zaamigo, which analyzes your teeth and tells you when it’s time to go to the dentist. Additionally, AI was a key topic in many talks, discussions, and workshops. This showed me once again that AI is everywhere and the key technology of our future.

The future is sustainable and human-centered

I was delighted to see that the ideas, technologies, and solutions presented at this event focused on creating a better world, both for the environment and for us humans. That was also a key criterion in the START Hack jury’s decision for the winning team, which developed a new method for integrating human characteristics into digital conversations to reduce harmful content in online discussions.

The metaverse is coming

The creation of metamuseums to sell digital art, discussions about the relevance of reviews in the metaverse, and ideas about how psychological counseling could be more effective via an anonymous avatar – the possibilities and visions of the metaverse were omnipresent. The metaverse, our second world, a virtual reality, might be coming sooner than we think.

Technological solutions include more than data crunching

The pitching competition of the START Hack finalists showed that developing sustainable and effective technical solutions includes much more than crunching numbers and coding:

  • Identifying the problem at its core.
  • Understanding the respective stakeholders.
  • Researching existing solutions.
  • Creating a functioning business model and presenting everything in an understandable manner to your audience.

Students rock

Not only did the students participating in the START Hack come up with innovative, creative, and future-oriented solutions. The START Summit x Hack was organized solely by students from the University of St. Gallen. They manage an international hybrid event that attracts over 3000 people from all around the world every year. Hats off!

Creating an inviting booth is challenging

Having a booth at a trade show like START Summit is one thing, but attracting people with it is quite another: On the one hand, we found that our “we create the next” slogan, while thought-provoking, was more likely to confuse people on its own than encourage them to talk to us at the booth. Fortunately, our marketing team provided us with a more information-rich roll-up. On the other hand, a monitor with moving content and colorful images is a real crowd-puller – thanks to the AI Ventures team for that.

My statworx colleagues are the best

Finally, this event showed me what wonderful, bright, and caring people we have at statworx. During and before the event, they helped me with the organization in every possible way. Even spontaneous changes were handled in an uncomplicated and supportive manner. Our team spirit and positive charisma seemed to be noticed by others as well: The hackers were thrilled by our CEO’s charismatic 3-minute speech, and visitors to our booth complimented us several times on what likable and open-minded people we have in our company.

Conclusion

So, I would like to thank all the organizers from START Global for making this fantastic event happen and my colleagues for all their support, positive energy, and fun spirits! I am already looking forward to the START Summit x Hack 2023! Livia Eichenberger Livia Eichenberger Livia Eichenberger Livia Eichenberger Livia Eichenberger

Am vergangenen Freitag, den 31. Dezember, ging ein erstaunliches Jahr zu Ende, sowohl für mich als auch für STATWORX. Das Jahr 2021 war geprägt von (zu) viel Arbeit, großen Erfolgen und Siegen, aber auch bitteren Niederlagen und Verlusten. Im Laufe eines Jahres passieren so viele Dinge, die es wert sind, erlebt zu werden, seien sie gut oder schlecht, und die mich immer wieder daran erinnern, warum ich das, was ich tue, liebe. 2021 war mit Sicherheit eines der aufregendsten, herausforderndsten aber auch lohnendsten Jahre meiner bisherigen, beruflichen Laufbahn. Wie auch im letzten Jahr habe ich beschlossen, dieses Jahr mit einem kurzen Rückblick auf 2021 zu beginnen und einen Ausblick darauf zu geben, was im Jahr 2022 alles auf dem Programm steht. Spoiler-Alarm: Dieses Jahr wirft bereits große Schatten voraus – durch den Aufstieg von statworx next.

2021 – Das Jahr im Rückblick

Trotz der anhaltenden Pandemie hatte STATWORX in 2021 ein sehr erfolgreiches Geschäftsjahr. Nach einem eher unspektakulären Jahr 2020 ist es meinem Team und mir gelungen, Umsatz, Größe und Impact unseres Unternehmens im Jahr 2021 deutlich zu steigern. Vor allem das wichtige 4. Quartal hat in diesem Jahr anders zugeschlagen und steigerte unsere Umsatz- und Gewinnzahlen nochmals erheblich. Neben den reinen Zahlen haben unsere Teams viele großartige Dinge erreicht: Wir haben neue Abteilungen und Funktionen eingeführt, sowohl im Front- als auch im Backoffice. Wir verwenden jetzt OKR als unser offizielles Zielsetzungsframework. Wir hatten einen Exit unserer erste Start-up-Investition an Databricks. Wir haben in drei weitere KI-Start-ups investiert. Wir sind mehreren Verbänden beigetreten, wie dem KI Bundesverband und AI Frankfurt. Wir haben Jugendliche in KI weitergebildet. Wir haben an großartigen Events wie dem Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz, der Startup Safari in Frankfurt, deploy(impact) oder SDS201 in der Schweiz teilgenommen und dazu beigetragen. Und so weiter, und so weiter. Die Liste ließe sich endlos fortsetzen. Hier noch einige persönliche Eindrücke aus diesem großartigen Jahr bei STATWORX.

Impressionen aus dem Geschäftsjahr 2021

Nicht zuletzt war 2021 auch unser 10-jähriges Firmenjubiläum! Im Januar 2011 ging die erste STATWORX-Website online. Dazu habe ich einen eigenen Blogbeitrag geschrieben. Das Jahr 2021 bescherte uns einige wirklich tolle Erlebnisse, brachte gleichzeitig aber auch viele neue Herausforderungen für unser wachsendes Unternehmen mit sich.

Erfolge und Herausforderungen gehen Hand in Hand, wenn es um Wachstum geht

Ein Unternehmen wachsen zu lassen ist schwer. Wirklich schwer. Während wir uns Schritt für Schritt der 100-Mitarbeiter-Marke nähern, ändern sich viele Dinge im Unternehmen – und müssen sich ändern. Aus “Neuigkeiten beim Mittagessen verbreiten” wird “offizielle Kommunikation”. Aus “Das war schon immer so” wird ein dokumentierter Prozess. Beförderungskriterien werden standardisiert. Karrierewege werden entwickelt. Persönliche Situationen ändern sich. Mitarbeitende verlassen das Unternehmen, um neue Chancen zu ergreifen. Interne Politik kommt auf. You know the deal. Nicht falsch verstehen, Wachstum ist eine gute Sache und etwas, auf das wir stolz sind, aber es hat seinen Preis. Wie bei jedem anderen Objekt bedeutet mehr Masse auch mehr Schwerkraft – mehr Dinge werden angezogen. Meistens positive Dinge, aber auch Herausforderungen und Probleme. Je größer das Unternehmen wird, desto schwieriger wird es, das Gesamtkonstrukt zusammenzuhalten. Das erinnerte mich an eine Vorlesung zu Greiners Wachstumsmodell aus meiner Zeit and der Universität:

Greiners Wachstumsmodell am Fallbeispiel von STATWORX 🙂

Wenn ein Unternehmen wächst, wird schließlich die Bedeutung und das Verlangen nach einem gemeinsamen Ziel, einer gemeinsamen Vision unausweichlich, um das Unternehmen und alle seine Mitarbeiter gemeinsam und zielgerichtet in die Zukunft zu führen. In der Vergangenheit waren viele Teammitglieder bei STATWORX stark motiviert, weil sie sahen, dass das Unternehmen erfolgreich und auf dem Markt nachgefragt war. Das berühmte “Why” war für viele jedoch lange Zeit unklar. Man wuchs mit dem Unternehmen. Monetäre Erfolge und Wachstum haben uns die ersten Kilometer des Weges getragen. Aber motivieren sie auf einer linearen Skala? Eindeutig nein. Nicht jeder neue Kunde erzeugt die gleiche Motivation und Begeisterung wie der erste große Deal.

Eine Folie, die ich in 2021 meinem Team gezeigt habe

STATWORX hat mir also die Frage gestellt: Was treibt und an? Auch in schwierigen Zeiten, wie im COVID-Jahr 2020? Was ist unser Ziel? Warum tun wir, was wir tun? Ich musste Antworten auf diese Fragen finden. Damit begann die Reise zu statworx next.

Die Reise zu statworx next

Angetrieben von diesen Fragen begab ich mich zwischen den Jahren 2020 und Januar 2021 auf eine Reise, um eine Vision und ein Ziel für die Zukunft von STATWORX zu entwickeln. Rückblickend war dies – ohne Frage – eines der wichtigsten Dinge, die ich je für das Unternehmen getan habe. Aber auch eine der schwierigsten. Ich habe viele Tage und Nächte mit Recherchen und Brainstorming verbracht, mich durch endlose Artikel, Videos und Bücher gearbeitet, bis ich schließlich an meinem Ziel ankam. In der ersten Januarwoche 2021 wurde statworx next geboren. Die Antwort auf unser Warum. Eine Vision. Ein Ziel.

Noch eine Folie, die ich meinem Team gezeigt habe 🙂

In einer motivierenden Rede in der letzten Januarwoche 2021 habe ich vor allen Mitarbeitern des Unternehmens statworx next vorgestellt und dargelegt, was ich mir für STATWORX in der Zukunft vorstelle. In Anlehnung an Cameron Herolds “Vivid Vision”-Ansatz habe ich die gesamte Vision in einem Dokument niedergeschrieben, damit jeder klar und deutlich versteht und sich vorstellen kann, was ich vor meinem inneren Auge sehe. Die “Vivid Vision” ist ein schriftlicher Ausdruck dessen, wie das Unternehmen in Zukunft aussehen und sich anfühlen soll. In dem Dokument beschreibe ich STATWORX in der Zukunft, wobei ich alle wichtigen Bereiche des Unternehmens hervorhebe: Geschäftsbereiche, Dienstleistungen, Produkte, Mitarbeiter, Kultur usw.

Aber statworx next ist mehr. Es hat einen tiefen, inspirierenden Kern. Er hat eine Bedeutung. Es gibt unserem Unternehmen einen Grund, das zu tun, was wir tun, so wie wir es tun. Es ist ein Leuchtturm für jeden Mitarbeitenden, der unseren Weg des Wachstums sowie unsere Rolle als Unternehmen in unserer heutigen und zukünftigen Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Umwelt definiert.

Nach der Präsentation von statworx next hat sich das gesamte Unternehmen sofort angefangen zu bewegen. Es wurden spezielle Visions-OKRs entwickelt, die sich herunterkaskadieren auf unsere Unternehmensziele, Geschäftsabteilungen und Backoffice-Teams. Es wurden Mitarbeiter für unsere neuen Geschäftsbereiche eingestellt, die aus statworx next hervorgegangen sind. Interne Initiativen wurden an der Schnittstelle zwischen statworx next und unserem Kerngeschäft gebildet. Die Mitarbeiter begannen, an Innovationsprojekten zu arbeiten. Die Energie war wahnsinnig. Das zu sehen, hat mir die elementare Bedeutung des “Why” in einem Unternehmen klar vor Augen geführt. Lektion gelernt.

Das ganze Jahr 2021 hindurch hat das gesamte Unternehmen hinter den Kulissen hart an statworx next gearbeitet. Jetzt, im Jahr 2022, Ende Januar, werden wir statworx next offiziell unseren Kunden und der Öffentlichkeit vorstellen. Aus diesem Grund glaube ich fest daran, dass 2022 das beste Jahr für unser Unternehmen in der Geschichte sein wird!

Im Jahr 2021 sind wir gewachsen – und haben an Impact gewonnen. Wir sind bereit weiterzugehen. In 2022 ist es Zeit für das nächste Kapitel. Time to challenge the now. Create the next. Shape the future. For the better. Es ist Zeit für statworx next.

Sebastian Heinz Sebastian Heinz

“Building trust through human-centric AI”: this is the slogan under which the European Commission presented its proposal for regulating Artificial Intelligence (AI regulation) last week. This historic step positions Europe as the first continent to uniformly regulate AI and the handling of data. With this groundbreaking attempt at regulation, Europe wishes to set standards for the use of AI and data-powered technology – even beyond European borders. That is the right step, as AI is a catalyst of the digital transformation, with significant implications for the economy, society, and the environment. Therefore, clear rules for the use of this technology are needed. This will allow Europe to position itself as a progressive market that is ready for the digital age. In its current form, however, the proposal still raises some questions about its practical implementation. Europe cannot afford to risk its digital competitiveness when competing with America and China for the AI leadership position.

Building Trust Through Transparency

Two Key Proposals for AI Regulation to Build Trust

To build trust in AI products, the proposal for AI regulation relies on two key approaches: Monitoring AI risks while cultivating an “ecosystem of AI excellence.” Specifically, the proposal includes a ban on the use of AI for manipulative and discriminatory purposes or to assess behavior through a “social scoring system”. Use cases that do not fall into these categories will still have to be screened for hazards and placed on a vague risk scale. Special requirements are placed on high-risk applications, with necessary compliance checks both before and after they are put into operation.

It is crucial that AI applications are to be assessed on a case-by-case basis instead of a previously considered sector-centric regulations. In last year’s white paper on AI and trust, the European Commission called for labeling all applications in business sectors such as healthcare or transportation as “high-risk”. This blanket classification based on defined industries, regardless of the actual use cases, would have been obstructive and meant structural disadvantages for entire European industries. The case-by-case assessment allows for the agile and innovative development of AI in all sectors and subjects all industries to the same standards for risky AI applications.

Clear Definition of Risks of an AI Application Is Missing

Despite this new approach, the proposal for AI regulation lacks a concise process to assess the risks of new applications. Since developers themselves are responsible for evaluating their applications, a clearly defined scale for risk assessment is essential. Articles 6 and 7 circumscribe various risks and give examples of “high-risk applications”, but a transparent process for assessing new AI applications is yet to be defined. Startups and smaller companies are heavily represented among AI developers. These companies, in particular, rely on clearly defined standards and processes to avoid being left behind by larger competitors with more appropriate resources. This requires practical guidelines for risk assessment.

If a use case is classified as a “high-risk application”, then various requirements on data governance and risk management must be met before the product can be launched. For example, training data must be tested for bias and inequalities. Also, the model architecture and training parameters must be documented. After deployment, human oversight of the decisions made by the model must be ensured.

Accountability for AI products is a noble and important goal. However, the practical implementation of these requirements once more remains questionable. Many modern AI systems no longer use the traditional approach of static training and testing data. Reinforcement Learning instead relies on exploratory training through feedback instead of a testable data set. And even though advances in Explainable AI are steadily shedding light on the decision-making processes of black-box models, complex model architectures of many modern neural networks make the tracing of individual decisions almost impossible to reconstruct.

The proposal also announces requirements for the accuracy of trained AI products. This poses a particular challenge for developers because no AI system has perfect accuracy. Nor is this ever the objective, as misclassifications are often calculated to have as little impact as possible on the individual use case. Therefore, it is imperative that performance requirements for predictions and classifications be determined on a case-by-case basis and that universal performance requirements be avoided.

Enabling AI Excellence

Europe is Falling Behind

With these requirements, the proposal for AI regulation seeks to inspire confidence in AI technology through transparency and accountability. This is a first, right step toward “AI excellence.” In addition to regulation, however, Europe as a location for Artificial Intelligence must also become more attractive to developers and investors.

According to a recently published study by the Center for Data Innovation, Europe is already falling behind both the United States and China in the battle for global leadership in AI. China has now surpassed Europe in the number of published studies on Artificial Intelligence and has taken the global lead. European AI companies are also attracting significantly less investment than their U.S. counterparts. European AI companies invest less money in research and development and are also less likely to be acquired than American companies.

A Step in the Right Direction: Supporting Research and Innovation

The European Commission recognizes that more support for AI development is needed for excellence on the European market and promises regulatory sandboxes, legal leeway to develop and test innovative AI products, and co-funding for AI research and testing sites. This is needed to make startups and smaller companies more competitive and foster European innovation and competition.

These are necessary steps to lift Europe onto the path to AI excellence, but they are far from being sufficient. AI developers need easier access to markets outside the EU, facilitating the flow of data across national borders. Opportunities to expand into the U.S. and collaborate with Silicon Valley are essential for the digital industry due to how interconnected digital products and services have become.

What is entirely missing from the proposal for AI regulation is education about AI and its potential and risks outside of expert circles. As artificial intelligence increasingly permeates all areas of everyday life, education will become more and more critical. To build trust in new technologies, they must first be understood. Educating non-specialists about both the potential and limitations of AI is an essential step in demystifying Artificial Intelligence and strengthening trust in this technology.

Potential Not Yet Fully Tapped

With this proposal, the European Commission recognizes that AI is leading the way for the future of the European market. Guidelines for a technology of this scope are important – as is the promotion of innovation. For these strategies to bear fruit, their practical implementation must also be feasible for startups and smaller companies. The potential for AI excellence is abundant in Europe. With clear rules and incentives, it can also be realized.

Oliver Guggenbühl Oliver Guggenbühl

Recently, I got access to the beta program of GPT-3, by far one of the most fascinating pieces of technology I came across in the last years. GPT-3 is an AI system for NLU (Natural Language Understanding), developed by OpenAI. In particular, GPT-3 excels at tasks such as text generation, question answering, text summarization and many, many more. That is why I’ve decided to co-write my yearly review together with GPT-3. This was my first man-machine collaboration and the work together with the AI completely blew my mind. Yellow marked parts of this post have been written by GPT-3. Check it out!

2020 is a year, that will make history. I mean, the type of history that gets printed in a schoolbook. It’s a year that will be remembered for centuries to come. Books will be written; movies and documentaries will be made. But what will be remembered the most?

Starting the year with ups and downs

For STATWORX it was a year full of ups and downs. We started bold in January and February with great new ideas, clients and projects. In our management offsite in Berlin in January, we were plotting how successful 2020 will be. Inspired by the vibrant energy (and nightlife) of the city, our heads were full of ideas. Also, in January, we were traveling to the beautiful city of San Francisco to check out the latest developments in data science and machine learning at R Conf 2020. On our way back, a quick (mandatory) detour to Las Vegas. Things felt great, and energy levels were insane. 2020 was to be our year!

Image 1 – Impressions from our trip to San Francisco. I don’t know what it is, but California and SFO in particular, have a special kind of vibe. It’s as if it’s home to all the creative people in the world. The people are cool, the weather is cool, the food is cool, the night life is cool, the whole atmosphere is cool. It’s a place that makes you want to live there. There must be something in the water.

But, when COVID hit Germany late February and March, the situation immediately changed. The German economy shut down for most parts, including many of our clients. Lockdown time. Projects were stopped or postponed; sales stuck. People had to stay at home to stay safe. This changed everything. We had to re-think and re-strategize for the future. We had to think of new ways to build our business; in other words, to be smart with our money. We had to go back to the drawing board to evaluate what to invest in and what to stop.

Speaking of investing: At that time, our new 1500sqm head office in Frankfurt was already signed, sealed and delivered. Two floors, one specifically designed for face-to-face workshops, trainings and our legendary STATWORX parties. Of course, none of that really happened in 2020. Furthermore, we’ve opened our new branch office in Zurich this year, accommodating space for our growing Swiss team. We were moving in both locations, in the middle of the crisis.

Image 2 – After nearly two years of planning and execution, the new STATWORX Headquarter in Frankfurt opens in June 2020. Simply an amazing piece of work!

Learning to work in a lockdown

With the possibility of a recession lingering over our heads, I had to ask myself if I had chosen the right line of work. The answer was simple: “Yes”. Both, crisis and lockdown significantly pushed digital working and digitalization in general. Companies quickly had to adapt to large-scale remote working, digital processes and new work in general. Also, for STATWORX, where we embrace office culture, team spirit and a cold beer after work, the new situation posed many challenges. More and more employees had to work remotely. The work of our clients and our own work was increasingly digital. We had to find solutions to avoid a digital silo effect and to ensure that our team members are not just working digitally but also maintain high-quality teamwork.

Image 3 – During lockdown, our team stayed at home to stay safe. Working environments showed a high variance. 🙂

Realizing, that the lockdown would have a severe impact on our clients and the worldwide economy in general, we swiftly had to identify opportunities for digital offerings. First, since in-person sales wasn’t an option, we’ve forged digital content such as our webinar series on different data science and AI related topics. Based in this series we’ve generated more than 500 new contacts in our CRM that our sales team could then reach out to. The second digital offering came in the form of a new digital training courses that were immediately booked and rolled out by our existing customers. The course program covers the basics as well as business implications of machine learning and AI and will soon be also available as a webinar, an on-demand video and as an e-book. We have also added more digital courses to our existing STATWORX Academy portfolio due to the high remote training demand in 2020, which turned out to be one of the great successes in 2020. Learning for the future doesn’t stop!

Image 4 – During the ongoing crisis, we had to adapt in terms of digital content and offerings. Here, you see some impressions from one of our video productions. We’ve learned a lot!

Opening the new office in Frankfurt

Around June, when the number of COVID cases was decreasing in Germany, it was time to restart the engine and boost marketing. We’ve invested in content creation, marketing and automation. This led to a series of around 10 whitepapers and 15 blog posts that were published in the second half of the year. Out of this, we were able boost our online exposure and generated new leads and project engagements. Also, finally, after a long and exhausting home office period, the team got together again. It felt great to see all of our team members being well and safe. This also made clear, how important social interaction is for our personal wellbeing and of course also for a team.

Image 5 – After a long period of home office and remote work, the STATWORX team finally met again at our office opening event. That felt great and showed how important our team spirit is.

Many of our AI consulting and development projects that were laid off in Q1 came back one after another which led to one of the most exciting end-of-year-rallies in the history of the company. We’ve accomplished a success for 2020, even though things looked sinister in the first half of the year. Our team stood together, with great courage and understanding for the situation.

Closing remarks

Looking back at 2020, I have to say that the crisis heavily pushed us out of our comfort zone and sparked many great initiatives and successes in our company. It was a challenging but rewarding year full of learnings. As a small Christmas gift from us, we have decided to give all our customers (ranging from startups to large enterprises) the chance to order a free AI Potential Workshop for your company! I wish you all a fantastic 2021!

Sebastian Heinz Sebastian Heinz

Something big is coming

… a teaser that has held our team in tension and excitement for the last few months till the grand opening of STATWORX’s new headquarter in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on July 3rd, 2020. During a small BBQ after a long period of lockdown and home office, our crew finally got the chance to mingle and feel the vibe of our new office location. But what had happened so far? One thing is clear: it was a piece of work.

„Help! We need more space“ was the predominant feeling as the decision had been made to go out and hunt for a new office. Our current office, based in the beautiful Westend of Frankfurt, was the company’s home since December 2016. Due to STATWORX’s constant expansion, however, it had become to feel like a (too) tiny box to be the future home for the steadily growing STATCrew. Even additional desks in co-working spaces such as WeWork or DesignOffices were not likely to be a long-term remedy.

Part of Our Company Culture

All those creative decisions embrace a crucial part of our company’s culture and spirit. During work, one must feel comfortable and at ease. We strongly disagree with concepts of work in face- and heartless environments where being at work is considered a pain in the neck. A high-quality surrounding, as well as a well thought out architecture, leads to a more productive and more satisfied working culture.

Creating such a comfortable and beautiful space for my team has, for me, been the major source of motivation throughout the whole project.

Curious about our new office? We’re happy to welcome many new and known faces, friends, customers, and partners in our new headquarter, based on Hanauer Landstr. 150, 60314 Frankfurt am Main. Welcome to STATWORX!

Julius Heinz Julius Heinz

New location in Frankfurt’s Ostend

Frankfurt, as Germany’s capital of Banking and Finance, offers a variety of office spaces for those considering expansion. However, many of them are designed to fit Banks’ or Law Firms’ architectural needs. For STATWORX, it was clear to create something more spacious, open, and loft-inspired where communication, inspiration, and open-minded work is being pushed instead of limited. After a long and intense period of screening, seeings, and planning, the decision was made to move into a 1.400 square meter office on Hanauer Landstr. 150 close to where the European Central Bank had settled a couple of years ago. Since then, the entire area stands for progress, innovation, and the drive to move forward, a spirit our company and crew embraces every day.

Conference Rooms, Kitchen & Bar

The lobby and conference areas are located on the 500 sqm ground floor of our new office. Four big conferencing rooms create space for our data academy offerings like data science and AI training, our Bootcamp series, and various other services related to education in the field of data science and AI. The rooms have the capacity to host up to 100 participants in total. Apart from that, the rooms will be the new location for the production of all our digital training offers on which we had worked intensively even before the crisis had set in. A special place will be the company’s Bar called STATBAR that will definitely become a beautiful spot for our after-work events on Friday – chin chin. Another room we are exceptionally proud of is our big event kitchen, planned in cooperation with Poliform Berlin. Resting on a concrete floor in a nearly 70sqm room, the kitchen is designed to be the social center of the company’s new office.

At the Heart of It all: The Open Space

The approx. 900sqm first floor is considered the ‘working floor’. The spaces’ concept is an open space and hot-desking approach that especially underlines the learnings from the lockdown and crisis time. Does a modern company have to continually provide a completely furnished desk space for every team member? Ever since the crisis has taught us all to interact and work virtually with all the benefits the internet holds for us, we say: no. Working in the year 2020 is a mix of work, action, presence, absence, and communication. Speaking of those maxims of modern work environments, the harsh architecture of small single working rooms and the isolation of people in those rooms is a clear example of what we would not want to happen in our company. Our open space promotes interaction and the borderless exchange of knowledge and information. Since that won’t work across the whole office architecture, we have also created closed group offices, offices for the management team as well as the members of the executive board. While walking through the new office, you will discover areas for informal working such as armchairs, sofas, or a dedicated “Think Tank” designed to allow creative work in groups up to ten people. The wall allows writing on it – so creativity will be pushed to the next level there. Of special interest was the design of the ‘Coding Room’. The room held in dark colors with black half-see-through curtains will, in the future, allow our coders to work in an extraordinarily quiet environment and develop our sophisticated machine learning and AI models. Calmness and peace can also be found in our telephone rooms that come with an intimate atmosphere for long phone calls.

Our team has given the name STATBIB to the area hosting our literature collection and serving as the library and study area of the company. Round tables made of smoked oak combined with dark green pendant lamps remind of libraries from former ages.

The Color Scheme

Speaking of dark green: while planning the new office, we made a clear decision against white walls. That is why there’s not a white wall in the entire space. It was our ambition to remove the borders between work and wellbeing. Colors are of utmost importance for the whole appeal of a room. The color scheme of the office presents itself as a mixture of warm, earthy colors with green undertones and complex shades. The colors are calming but also transport ambition, energy, and eagerness at the same time. The materials are mostly natural: solid wood combined, natural fabrics alongside with black pieces – paired with a decent furniture collection presenting itself as a handpicked mix of classics across the epochs of mid-century till contemporary design.

Part of Our Company Culture

All those creative decisions embrace a crucial part of our company’s culture and spirit. During work, one must feel comfortable and at ease. We strongly disagree with concepts of work in face- and heartless environments where being at work is considered a pain in the neck. A high-quality surrounding, as well as a well thought out architecture, leads to a more productive and more satisfied working culture.

Creating such a comfortable and beautiful space for my team has, for me, been the major source of motivation throughout the whole project.

Curious about our new office? We’re happy to welcome many new and known faces, friends, customers, and partners in our new headquarter, based on Hanauer Landstr. 150, 60314 Frankfurt am Main. Welcome to STATWORX!

Julius Heinz Julius Heinz

For nearly a whole year, the STATcrew waited for this magic moment: The STATWORX Office Opening Day! On July 3rd, we celebrated the opening of our new office in the Eastend of Frankfurt.

Exploring The New Space

The day started with a tour of our new building. Everyone was excited to see the brand new office since our CFO Julius put so much effort into transforming the space into a modern, welcoming place to work. On the tour, the crew was eager to examine the whole area with its lovely details, tech gadgets, lounge places, conference rooms, and much more.

Talking Strategy

Afterward, we had our quarterly town hall meeting to get everyone up-to-date on company news. For several hours we talked about communication, strategy, and goals for the coming months.

Firing up the grill on the patio outside the office.

Time For Food and Snacks

Finally, after a lot of insightful talks, we fired up the grill to have a tasty barbecue with cold beers and delicious wine. Since we’ve all been working from home for the last couple of months, we had a lot of catching up to do.

Who has the coolest new hairstyle? How are the new parents and their babies doing? Are weddings still happening? Of course, there was a lot of work-talk, too, but we certainly loved seeing all those familiar faces again.

Back to Work

One of the most significant changes is the sheer amount of conference rooms we have now! And not only that: The rooms are all different, some with sofas and armchairs, others with bar tables and stools. It’s really fun to try out every room and to find new stuff and details in each one.

We’ve been working in our new office for over a week now, and the motivation is as high as ever. With our heads full of ideas and on the lookout for new challenges, we’re off to new adventures!

Anne-Marie Antwerpen Anne-Marie Antwerpen

Once again, an amazing year at STATWORX is coming to an end. The frequency and magnitude of positive things happening to our company are continuously increasing with every new client, employee, or partner coming to our company. That is why the very first paragraph of this post ends with a massive THANK YOU to my whole team, our customers and partners. We would not be where we are now without you. Let’s keep up the awesome work!

STATWORX is constantly growing each year, both in revenue and profit, as well as in services and products – likewise in 2019. Our growth deeply embodies a high pace of change into our company’s DNA and all the things that surround us. That is why sometimes you can lose track of all the different things happening throughout the year. To keep track of our evolving company, I’ve decided to write down some of the most important things that moved our company this year, ranging from exciting projects, new partners to great festivities and special events. Let’s begin the time travel!

Projects & Academy

The various kinds of data science, machine learning, and AI projects, which we deliver for our cross-industry customers, are the cornerstone of our company. And by cross-industry, I really mean it: automotive, finance, pharma, retail, insurance, aviation – you name it. I would assume that there isn’t a single industry we have not worked in so far. That greatly enlarges our perspective on the field of data science and AI and helps us to translate solutions from different industries or functions into our project environments across our customers. This year, there have been so many fascinating projects, both end-2-end as well as prototypes / MVPs, that it’s tough to pick the gems. My personal favorites would most likely be the ground operations optimization project for one of our airline customers, as well as our various ML and NLP projects we’ve conducted for the purchasing department of one of our automotive customers. Besides that, we’ve delivered several forecasting products, customer analytics solutions, as well as different dashboards and ML fueled applications. Furthermore, in our strategy department, we’ve supported several new customers from the financial and insurance industry, who are just getting started with data science and AI by setting up their data and analytics platform strategies. Whew!

Besides our consulting projects, the “STATWORX Academy” brings a multitude of different data science, ML and AI trainings and workshops to our customers. One of the most exciting training projects this year was, for sure, a company-wide AI leadership training for one of our biggest customers. With a team from their professional development department, IT, and data science in finance, we’ve forged a manifold and interactive workshop, specifically targeted at middle to top management leaders. Besides multiple training sessions in Germany, this also led to cross-continental trainings in the USA as well as China. It was fascinating to discuss with leaders from various cultural backgrounds about AI and its implications on business, society and life in general. I am really looking forward to continue this training initiative in 2020.image-01-academychinaimage-01-academyusa

Another great workshop event this year was our brand-new “Deep Learning Bootcamp”. Besides our battle-proven “Data Science Bootcamp”, we’ve created a 5-day workshop all around neural networks and deep learning. Thereby, we are digging into the basic concepts, such as MLPs, CNNs, and LSTMs, but also into more advanced topics such as GANs, autoencoders, and deep reinforcement learning. The first Bootcamp was a great success, for which we received loads of positive feedback from our participants. I can’t wait for the next session in the first quarter of 2020, with many new topics and programming exercises in Python and TensorFlow.

Investments

In 2019 we’ve also conducted our first financial investments into companies and products we believe in: first to mention is bamboolib, a product two former STATWORKERS created in their newly founded company. bamboolib is a low-code data preparation and visualization GUI for pandas in Jupyter (yes, a GUI for Jupyter). It allows data science professionals to carry out time-consuming data prep and manipulation steps 10x faster. Furthermore, it enables Python and pandas starters to learn the concepts of data prep more easily. bamboolib is currently making huge waves on LinkedIn, so I definitely recommend that you check it out!

Besides bamboolib, we’ve engaged in a joint-venture called ONEZERO-X that is bringing data science, machine learning, and AI to sports business. We’ve already had our first project for a German soccer club and created a great MVP for forecasting soccer stadium utilization by using historical sales data and many external effects. I will be presenting the new joint venture at IN-BETA AUDITIONS in Frankfurt in January 2020.

Partners

STATWORX is continually engaging with new partners to leverage synergies and to bring our services to a broader audience of customers. One of our longest and most fruitful partnerships is with Dataiku. The French software startup just reached unicorn-level company valuation and never ceases to surprise us with new powerful features on their innovative data science platform as well as with their excellent team spirit and collaborative work approach. Additionally, to support our clients on all major cloud platforms, we have further extended our cloud service provider network by entering partnerships with Microsoft and AWS, on top of our existing partnership with Google (GCP).

Depending on high-quality data in everything we do, we understand how important it is for all companies to build up a clean and structured data foundation. Therefore, on multiple occasions, we joined forces with the data management and data governance focused University of St. Gallen spin-off CDQ. Last but not least, we added renowned semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics to the list of our partners. We are thrilled to leverage their STM32 microcontrollers’ capabilities, to run AI directly on edge controllers, which allows the integration of state-of-the-art neural networks in highly specialized industrial applications.

Events

When it comes to events and conferences, STATWORX is always ready to jump in. Not only to gather new knowledge but also to network, make new connections, and get new leads. One of our favorite events throughout the year is the Data Festival in Munich. This year, our Head of Data Science, Fabian Müller, gave an exciting talk about XAI (explainable AI), its current applications, and limitations. The Data Festival is getting bigger and bigger each year, which triggers the creativity of our marketing to come up with great new ideas for our STATWORX booth. This year, we launched our “Beat the AI” campaign, where visitors of our booth could compete against a reinforcement learning agent that learned how to play Super Mario on NES.

“Beat the AI” was also our campaign at EGG Germany 2019 in Stuttgart, the 1-day AI conference organized by our friends at Dataiku. Here, we gave a talk on how to bring data science and AI to organizations using Dataiku together with our friends from Mercedes Benz.

image-03-egg-germany

Another exceptional event this year was the “KEX Forecasting Challenge”. Here, a selection of AI vendors was given a dataset of daily sales data that they were asked to forecast. The actual sales data was held back to ensure a fair competition. In an intense weekend session, the “STATWORX Black Ops” team managed to build a machine learning model for 10 different products that was able to forecast 365 days ahead. During the presentation of the results, we’ve received great feedback from the data supplying company and currently engage in a joint project.

Another highlight of 2019 was our participation in the Swiss AI Hackathon, where we competed against 10 other teams in the development of a machine learning model for turnaround delay prediction. This 2-day event in Zurich certainly was one of the most challenging events this year, since we had a great variety of data sources to deal with to make the model work. After 2-days of coffee, red bull, beer, and pizza, the STATWORX team made it on to the winners’ podium and presented our modeling approach in front of several members of the Swiss BOM.

Data University

As you could read up until here, the last year was filled with new opportunities and challenges for us. One of those challenges for us as a team was the Data University, our first-ever open event. We created the event with the help of our partner BARC in early 2019. Together, we developed a marketing plan, designed the curriculum, built a website, and created the workshops. In October, we held the interactive 2-day workshop-event at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, with 40 participants, 8 trainers, and a whole lot of pizzas. Furthermore, our friends from Frankfurt Data Science organized an event in the evening about “How to become a Data Scientist” with over 100 participants that perfectly matched our topics at Data University. I want to thank everyone at BARC again for the great partnership. If you’re interested in our newest events and plans, then follow us on our various social media accounts and stay tuned.

image-05-DUgruppenfoto

Work events

With all the hard work we do here at STATWORX, we also like to relax and have some after-work fun. There have been multiple occasions during the past twelve months, where my team prepared parties, fun get-togethers and excursions to take our collective minds off of work. One of these occasions was the famous STATWORX summer barbecue, which took place on a very hot Friday evening in June. Everyone prepared something to eat, like a salad or tasty finger food, and we enjoyed the great weather with some fresh cocktails on our terrace.

But the barbecue wasn’t the only time we had great luck with the weather. In October, part of our crew went on a day trip to the picturesque Rheingau, the famous wine region known for its world-famous Riesling wines. With sunglasses on and a glass of delicious white wine in hand, the group went hiking for about four hours in the vineyards.

Last but not least, the Christmas spirit found its way into the STATWORX office. For our Christmas party in late November, the team prepared a large pot of hot wine, wrapped gifts for everyone, and showcased some very creative Ugly Sweaters. To finalize this amazing year, we also took a weekend trip to Belgium, where we time to unwind, talk, play games, laugh, and party.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun days and nights together. A big shout out to everyone who helped organize these events. Cheers!

Outlook on 2020

What a year! By writing all of this down, I started to realize how diverse and inspiring all of the different things were that happened at our company in the last year. And there is always more to come: in the first half of 2020, we will move into the brand-new STATWORX HQ in Frankfurt on 1’400 sqm on 2 floors. This will be our biggest and boldest move so far, which will enable our company and employees to grow, prosper, and develop even further. In terms of services, we will continue to strengthen our team and offerings in data and software engineering to accord with the skyrocketing demand for ML ops and industrialization of machine learning and AI applications. In addition to that, we will be launching our first own AI software product in 2020, which will be another massive step for our company on our collective journey along the road of STATWORX.

I can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for us! The only thing that remains constant in life is change. I am wishing you a happy holiday and a joyful new year.

Best wishes from your friends at STATWORX. This text was written by GPT-2 (just kidding).

Sebastian Heinz Sebastian Heinz

Last Sunday, part of our STATWORX crew went on a day trip to the picturesque Rheingau, the famous wine region known for its Riesling. The trip was planned around the three tourist pillars of the region: wine, castles & hiking.

Weinwanderung-Collage-1

A warm welcome

Full of excitement (which we had already expressed in the days before, by sending each other funny wine and hiking related GIFs), we met at noon at Frankfurt’s central station, where we all took the train to the Rheingau. After a one-hour train journey, sweetened with some delicious self-made puff pastry snacks from our dear colleague Jessi, we arrived at the beautiful village of Oestrich-Winkel. There, our two tour guides Bernadette and Klaus Wolter from RheingauPur picked us up. After a warm welcome to the region, everyone received their own wine glass for the different tastings during the day, and off we went!

Wine tasting can be a real challenge

While walking through the beautiful vineyards, it was hard to believe that we were only a one-hour train ride away from Frankfurt. With the warm sun and the light breeze, the vast landscapes with beautiful castles could evoke feelings of holidays in Tuscany or Provence. On our way, Bernadette and Klaus taught us about the whole wine production process, starting with the right way to maintain a vineyard up to the correct wine-tasting technique. Because some of us had some starting difficulties with this tasting technique (or perhaps they just wanted to refill their glass very quickly ????), here one more time: Take a big sip of wine in your mouth, close your nose and swirl the wine around a little. Then swallow the wine and open your nose at the same time. This way, you can taste the full flavors of the wine.

Weinwanderung-Collage-2

Gin at a vineyard?

After around three hours of learning, hiking, and of course, also some wine tasting, we arrived at the beautiful Castle Johannisberg. From there, we had a beautiful view of the Rhine and the surrounding vineyards. In the castle’s shop, some of us bought a bottle of the local Gin – yes, you’ve read correctly, they produce not only wine but also some delicious fruity and smooth Gin – a real treat for our STATWORX Gin lovers. After one last glass of delightful Riesling in the warm evening sun, we headed back through the vineyards to Oestrich-Winkel, where we all enjoyed a tasty traditional dinner.

Off to new adventures!

On the train back, we were still talking about all the lovely experiences of the day. Seeing a grape harvesting machine in action is not something you see every day! And even the non-wine drinkers among us had to admit that the wines we had tasted that day were excellent. Although none of us had the impression that we walked that much during the day, we all felt our feet and legs as we got off the train in Frankfurt. With this feeling and the warmth of the sun still on our faces, we all went home already looking forward to the next adventure on one of our STATWORX trips!

Thank you very much, Bernadette and Klaus, for the lovely tour!

Livia Eichenberger Livia Eichenberger

Summer in Frankfurt means blue skies, warm nights and happy people all around. That’s why STATWORX made it a tradition to have a company barbecue and enjoy some good food and drink while mingling with colleagues and friends. Moreover, we had a great reason to celebrate: as of late we’re the STATWORX GmbH (engl.: limited company). So, last Friday we had a party!

pictures GmbH party

Work hard, party hard

But not so fast: before the first beers were opened, our CEO and CFO gave us an overview of the company’s current situation and the general plans for the future. (Side note: you know you’re in a room full of consultants if half of the audience is so intrigued by the spot-on design of the PowerPoint slides that the presented content almost becomes secondary!)

After several insightful hours of presentation, motivated by past accomplishments and eager to put the presented game plan into practice, we finally began to prepare the party. I must say it was really cool to see how smoothly everyone was working together. In almost no time we had set up the tables, grills, and decorations in the backyard. When the buffet table was loaded up with homemade goodies, it became evident that some of us are not only talented statisticians, marketing geniuses or brilliant data scientists but also seasoned chefs.

Soon, the first guests started to arrive, and after the first vegetarian steaks and traditional sausages were sizzling on the grill, the party was instantly in full swing. Even a short shower of rain couldn’t dampen the mood. Maybe, the exotic and simply delicious cocktails mixed by our very own barkeeper might have helped with that. Let me tell you, the non-alcoholic Mojito was a revelation.

We spend the evening connecting with new colleagues, old colleagues as well as their friends and families. It also was very cool to chat with our Swiss colleagues in person again, who were kind enough to bring an exceptional swiss specialty – a whole box of Luxemburgerli! – all the way with them. The evening was topped off by several former colleagues who stopped by to catch up.

To not overstrain the patience and ears of our lovely neighbors, we moved the party inside. On the makeshift dancefloor, laser-show included, we danced our heart out to the finest tunes played by our current CEO and former DJ. Since it wouldn’t be a STATWORX production without some facts and figures, so here are some stats about the barbecue:

Would you like to be part of the next STATWORX summer barbecue? You can become part of the team. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

 

 

Lea Waniek Lea Waniek

Summer in Frankfurt means blue skies, warm nights and happy people all around. That’s why STATWORX made it a tradition to have a company barbecue and enjoy some good food and drink while mingling with colleagues and friends. Moreover, we had a great reason to celebrate: as of late we’re the STATWORX GmbH (engl.: limited company). So, last Friday we had a party!

pictures GmbH party

Work hard, party hard

But not so fast: before the first beers were opened, our CEO and CFO gave us an overview of the company’s current situation and the general plans for the future. (Side note: you know you’re in a room full of consultants if half of the audience is so intrigued by the spot-on design of the PowerPoint slides that the presented content almost becomes secondary!)

After several insightful hours of presentation, motivated by past accomplishments and eager to put the presented game plan into practice, we finally began to prepare the party. I must say it was really cool to see how smoothly everyone was working together. In almost no time we had set up the tables, grills, and decorations in the backyard. When the buffet table was loaded up with homemade goodies, it became evident that some of us are not only talented statisticians, marketing geniuses or brilliant data scientists but also seasoned chefs.

Soon, the first guests started to arrive, and after the first vegetarian steaks and traditional sausages were sizzling on the grill, the party was instantly in full swing. Even a short shower of rain couldn’t dampen the mood. Maybe, the exotic and simply delicious cocktails mixed by our very own barkeeper might have helped with that. Let me tell you, the non-alcoholic Mojito was a revelation.

We spend the evening connecting with new colleagues, old colleagues as well as their friends and families. It also was very cool to chat with our Swiss colleagues in person again, who were kind enough to bring an exceptional swiss specialty – a whole box of Luxemburgerli! – all the way with them. The evening was topped off by several former colleagues who stopped by to catch up.

To not overstrain the patience and ears of our lovely neighbors, we moved the party inside. On the makeshift dancefloor, laser-show included, we danced our heart out to the finest tunes played by our current CEO and former DJ. Since it wouldn’t be a STATWORX production without some facts and figures, so here are some stats about the barbecue:

Would you like to be part of the next STATWORX summer barbecue? You can become part of the team. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

 

 

Lea Waniek Lea Waniek