Visions don’t cost anything – but turning them into reality costs blood, sweat and tears – not to mention time and money
Dear blog readers,
I was in the garden on Saturday in glorious weather and wearing my brand-new weeSIONÄR T-shirt, and I simply had to take this spontaneous selfie. The aim of the selfie is to thank the more than 300 people who remembered my birthday and sent me their best wishes on all channels. The post generated 176 likes! Brilliant! But I asked myself a question: What message did my fan community want to convey? Simply to like my ‘thank you’ message? That goes without saying, of course. Or were they liking the unmistakable message on my chest?
I think it was probably a case of both….
My wife, my family and the neighbours then asked me in turn what makes Cengiz a weeSIONÄR. In the evening, over a glass of good Chianti on the terrace, I had the chance to think about the subject of visions and the weeSIONÄR. The idea of the “wee” cashback system first came to me in the year 2004. The initial inspiration hit me at Milan’s Malpensa airport. It was as if I had been struck by the proverbial flash of lightning! Was it a coincidence, or was it empathy? Whatever it was … Between two flights and after a couple of strenuous days I was sitting in a bistro feeling pretty exhausted, and watching the many travellers in the duty-free shop paying for their purchases by Amex and MasterCard. And I asked myself a question: “Who earns money from this business?” One after another, more than 10 participants in the value-creation chain occurred to me, all of them taking their share of the retailer’s cake.
On the flight back to Munich, at a height of 10,000 m, I then had what can be called my ‘lightbulb moment’, THE vision.
I quickly jotted down notes on this basic idea on the back of the flyer explaining safety procedures. This was the start of a series of sleepless nights. I continued to develop the initial rough idea, refining it during long and detailed discussions with specialists, while also debating the matter with friends and acquaintances. During the following years this led to the development of the vision, the strategy and the concept of “wee”, a cashback system in which participants collect cash instead of loyalty points and from which in the final analysis two parties benefit most: the high-street retailer who has seen sales fall for years because customers are doing more and more of their shopping online and who is therefore under increasing pressure – and of course the consumer.
After the establishment of “wee” in 23 countries, together with the market launch in Jakarta/Indonesia – our first foothold in Asia – our ambitious activities on the capital market and many more developments…. things are going well! But, and this is the decisive factor: my original vision was in fact more modest than the current status of the idea. What’s the reason for this? For one thing, the original concept proved to be the right one in every way. In addition, our non-stop tinkering with the project as it developed opened up increasingly wide dimensions. And although the setbacks we suffered were frustrating, the desire for success and our belief in “wee” were always sufficient motivation for us to get back on our feet and get on with the job. With even more intensity… With even more determination… And two important new developments: the increased performance of the Internet and the breakthrough made by the smartphone of course gave this vision a real boost.
A couple of years ago e-commerce created the first revolutionary change in the way people shop. A further revolution then followed in the form of m-commerce! And both now and in future the name of the message, trend and business is: weeCommerce. What does this mean? Benefiting from every purchase made online and offline throughout the world! And doing so with a card. With an app. Worldwide!
All of us – I myself most of all – are now inspired by these developments to create a global blue chip organisation with “wee”. A blue chip organisation which doesn’t simply represent a unique and successful cashback system! The core of its operations will contain the weeCard, weeApp and wee.com features. In addition this valuable blue chip organisation will represent mobile payment, a brand with a glittering reputation worldwide, a company with stock-market listing that performs sustainably and has proud employees, grateful retailers and appreciative consumers. And a charity which can do a great deal of good worldwide! However, and here I’m going back to the question my wife asked me on Saturday evening: “How are you, my dear Cengiz, going to put your vision into practice?” I explained this using a concrete example: “Do you remember, Siana, how we supported the Yasin-Ehliz Cup in Bad Tölz on a small scale at Easter? This led to the successful launch of “wee” in Bad Tölz – linked to the main sponsorship for the ‘Tölzer Löwen’ ice-hockey team. “Linked” means that we merge the global online market with the local retail scene, and the weeArena will be integrated organically into the system as an important player. And as a beacon for the region and pilot project for Europe, over the coming months we will gradually turn the ice hockey stadium into a ‘cashless’ location as the weeArena. In addition to ice hockey, which starts on 12 August with the first match of the season between the Tölzer Löwen and SC Riessersee under the “wee” banner as final preparation for the League 2 season, we are already planning some great special events in the weeArena for the late autumn of 2017 and the summer of 2018.” But my wife insisted: “That’s all well and good, but how does this concrete example explain how the vision is put into practice?” I gave her a smile and answered: “By not being afraid, by having a clear strategy and developing a viable business scenario, ensuring that any risks involved are manageable, making the necessary funds available, communicating in the right way, motivating people with conviction to believe in our shared vision and mission, and above all working hard in order to make sure that we can all realise our individual objectives. We are all of us building blocks in the overall vision and all own part of the project as a whole.
I’m already looking forward like a small boy to a night of pop hits with Jürgen Drews and DJ Ötzi, or to a comedy festival, a world title boxing match or Andreas Gabalier in the weeArena. Or to the promotion of the Tölzer Löwen to the first division of Germany’s ice hockey league. “That”, said my wife, “sounds more like a dream than a vision to me. Maybe you should tackle that when the concepts of your first vision have been successfully realised.” In which she is of course right. Anyway,
I hope to see you soon in the weeArena!
P.S.: In my next blog post I’ll be informing you in detail about the weeArena survey: “What events would you like to see in the weeArena in Bad Tölz in the summer of 2018?”