Hi, my name's Chris.

I'm a freelance consultant helping startups make something people love.

Innovation & Product Strategy

I’ve been building stuff for as long as I can remember.

A little back story about my humble self.

I grew up in a first-generation Russian-German family in Germany, and lived in Frankfurt as a kid and young adult— bilingual and bicultural, constantly bridging and switching between languages and cultures.

As I became older and having always juggled with different projects and jobs, I learned more about my personality and started to develop a good sense for what I'm really good at, and where I could still improve myself in the future. In hindsight, all of these experiences became the roots of my career and made me who I am today.

Before I started freelancing as a consultant, I actually worked as a junior product manager at mymuesli. Even though I'm really a product guy at heart, I tend to be a lot more things in life, too.

Sometimes, I'm also a writer, designer and avid musician. Other times, just a science geek, book worm and sports nut. Then, there's me being an amateur dancer, wannabe Christoph Kolumbus and part-time foodie, eating myself through various food cultures around the world.

What that guy's all about

As it is widely known that people now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (and also love lists), I won't bore you with a memoire, and instead leave you with some fun facts about me:

  • I played ice hockey in my youth, started my first t-shirt business and grew a Facebook page to more than 20,000 likes when I was 14, and am an overly curious ambivert.

  • I ended up living in 7 cities and traveling to 31 countries over the years, being currently based between my hometown of Frankfurt, Germany, and Vienna, Austria.

  • I also went on a 3-month-long solo backpacking trip to Southeast Asia when I was 18, and crossed a flash flood once on a motorcycle in Vietnam, having never driven one before.

  • I finished a certificate study program (Honours Degree in Digital Technology and Entrepreneurship) at the University of Passau, and interned with mymuesli a couple of years ago.

  • I usually have to sneeze at least twice after having some strong mint gum or dark chocolate, and speak German, English and Russian fluently.

Perfect things, the things I love in my life

I have a deep passion for research, nutrition, fitness, psychology, brain health, neuroscience, self-improvement, music, financial independence, digital privacy, user experience design, cars, philosophy, traveling, discovering new things, photography and movies. It's really up to you to choose one.

Oh, and I'm still a gamer at heart, having spent quite some time getting carried away by beautiful video games ever since I was a kid. I always love me a captivating story, but just don't have that much time left nowadays. (sigh, from Crash Bandicoot and Pokémon to Animal Crossing and Minecraft... hits me like a ton of bricks every time - hello childhood, my old friend)

I also have a thing for enjoying the little things in life, such as Viennese coffee, sunshine and a fresh breeze on your face on a perfect Sunday morning. And spending quality time with your loved ones. Or just going for a ride on my bicycle to unwind in the afternoon.

Selected projects I really loved working on

It's all about creating meaningful experiences that genuinely make a difference in people's lives.

A closer look at my research process

Having been a relentless science geek from a young age, I ended up with a broad and deep knowledge of various fields in life.

Even though my main focus lies on innovation and product strategy, I usually apply all of my other knowledge in the scientific fields of nutrition, fitness, psychology, neuroscience, product management and UX to each new challenge that I'm faced with.

There's just something extremely fulfilling about getting familiar with different fields of studies and learning just for the sake of it. Thus, I started to become more of an expert generalist (aka t-shaped person) over the years and have loved taking on the role as a personal consultant for others whenever I was being asked for it.

Don't get me wrong, I am by no means a hundred percent expert in these fields of study, but am really good at connecting the dots between all of them to make something meaningful from it. Something people really love.

"It’s better to have 100 people love you than have a million people that sort of like you."

Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y Combinator

I also taught myself how to go deep on subjects fast throughout the last few years. Rather than trying to learn every single aspect of a particular topic, I found it to be more efficient to spend my time researching and identifying the single best sources of scientific literature in a specific area, and then going straight to that source.

Then, I usually question my findings and look at them from as many different perspectives as possible before applying them anywhere. I hate superficial research with a passion which is why I'll always try my best to filter through all of the crap out there. "There are always two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle."

Working with mymuesli

Please note that the project is still ongoing internally at mymuesli and not public yet.

I'll follow up with a detailed case study as soon as everything becomes more official. Nonetheless, I can still guide you a little bit through my tasks at hand.

What I've been working on

The main question (and hypothesis) was to what extent the topic of personalized nutrition applies to the company's vision, and what kind of innovative products could be born out of it.

Although it seems like a bit of an overkill for a cereal company at first, it's extremely beneficial to dive in and see if it's possible to expand the mass customization model of mymuesli not only on taste and design preferences (which is already made possible), but also on the customer's health.

So let's see what the future holds, I'm really excited! My tasks included:

  • Helping create a strategy research paper focusing on the topic of personalized nutrition.

  • Doing a thorough nutritional analysis of a majority of the current range of products.

  • Working close with the founding, business development and product management team.

  • Participating in a couple of onsite meetings.

  • Helping make the project ready for a testing phase.

Building Chummify

Helping you meet others in the offline world who are on the same page as you.

Chummify is a German psychology project that takes your Big Five personality traits and brings you together with other people in real life who you are on the same page with.

Without emoji-filled chats, wasted time in front of the screen and all of that matter. An offline experience of meeting like-minded souls in your area and based on scientific research.

For everyone wanting to deeply connect with someone, call it either a friendship, a romance, or something in between. Just raw emotional and intellectual connection that surpasses any defined human relationship.

The overall vision of the project

It's all about finding someone out there who just really gets you on a deeper level and approaches life in a similar way to you. There is a real need for human connection nowadays, to feel like you're being understood, to feel that other people relate to you and feel that you're not alone.

Given the fact that meeting people gets less and less personal with our today's use of social media, I want the user to spent as less time as possible in front of the screen, putting the whole focus on the real-life interaction and producing extremely accurate matches based on current findings in the field of social and personality psychology. That's why there won't be a chat function, too.

The project was also featured in a new study program at the University of Passau.

Defining the user flow

The base of the whole onboarding process and user experience is actually quite simple:

  • Do a short, science-based Big Five personality test. (integrated into a Conversational UI, so it doesn't feel like answering endless questions)

  • Select your preferred matching gender. (all possible user personas included, from single people to even someone in a happy relationship, it's about meeting people first, not just dating/friendships per se)

  • Leave your WhatsApp number. (using messengers as the most convenient B2C way of communication)

  • Put your smartphone away and enjoy your life. (yes, that's really my intention)

  • Only get notified via WhatsApp when you've got a match. (best online supplement for an offline life)

  • Confirm a recommendation for a time and public place to meet at. (otherwise, planning becomes too much of a hassle without a viable chat option - public place, so both parties feel comfortable)

  • Mention one distinctive mark about your appearance that day, so you and your match will be able to recognize each other. (currently, you don't know how your match looks like, maybe there will be an option for a picture in the future, makes it more superficial though)

  • Meet up in real life for a coffee next to the university for lunch. (first real impression happens here, face-to-face - casual timing leaves expectations low)

  • (Give feedback to make the matching process more accurate in the future.)

Some major plot holes

I actually wrote a Reddit post about all of the possible loopholes in the usability process a while ago.

Most of the data comes from real feedback from early adopters that I manually recruited on campus back in 2017/2018. Feel free to check it out if you want to learn more about it!

Working on something bigger than yourself

  • Being the solo founder of the project, I had the first idea for it back in 2016.

  • Since then, I took care of basically everything in the process of bootstrapping this little baby: Research, strategy, user experience design, development, marketing, recruiting beta users and user testing.

  • My mantra was always: "Make the project better, not bigger." I really care about making the user experience as meaningful as possible. That's why the whole development process usually takes a little bit longer than usual.

  • Got a little help during a short period of time, but unfortunately, it wasn't seriously enough.

  • Creating your own product really grows deeply on you and I'm still very passionate about the topics of deeper connections, personality science, meaningful relationships, and overcoming loneliness.

  • Currently being completely revised for another round of beta testing, most likely in Vienna, Austria.

Feel free to say hello, I'm always up for a new challenge!

If you wonder how much potential your startup still holds or just need some guidance along the way, I'd love to help you out with that one.

Obligatory legal notice

Christian Schwarz

Heinrich-Lübke-Straße 6
60488 Frankfurt
Germany*

Eggerthgasse 10/19
1060 Vienna
Austria*

*Fan mail and carrier pigeons are always welcome!