There is always something happening at HSBA...

HSBA graduate Nils Hempel: Freshness as Key to Success

Nils Hempel, graduate of the 2012 Master's program in Global Management & Governance, together with Flavio Alario, has developed the Fliit platform, which aims to make food logistics simple, efficient and carefree for everyone. The start-up recently received ten million euros in venture capital for the concept, including from Carsten Maschmeyer. A good enough reason for us to talk to Nils Hempel.

First of all, congratulations on your success! How did the Fliit platform come about?

I first met my current business partner, Flavio, while I was studying for my dual Bachelor's degree at DHL. When we spoke on the phone after my master's degree at the end of 2015, he told me about his business idea for food logistics. The concept appealed to me right away and I was very excited about the idea of starting a company. We then founded Fliit Holding GmbH in March 2016.

What’s so special about Fliit?

With our platform solution, our logistics partners can easily digitise their existing analogue logistics processes without any IT support of their own. This means that vehicles and trips can be used to even greater capacity. In addition, working with us offers them the prospect of further new orders. At Fliit, food producers and wholesalers have a contact who can handle all their transport logistics in a very straightforward way. Fliit orchestrates a dynamic and flexible vehicle fleet consisting of a large number of regional and supra-regional logisticians. This allows our clients to meet the increased consumer demands for freshness and availability. 

What topics are you currently working on?

The shortage of skilled truck drivers and warehouse workers is a huge issue for our logistics partners. Our task now is to see how we can help transport companies solve or at least reduce this problem by digitising analogue logistics processes. This is an interesting problem that is currently keeping me very busy.

What do you enjoy about founding and managing a company?

It's great fun to jump into the deep end every day and experience something for the first time, make mistakes and then learn from them. Every day is like a roller coaster ride where you learn a lot about yourself and your limits. And, of course, it is very nice to see how the "family" continues to grow and how a real team spirit develops in the company. 

And what are the biggest challenges?

For a start-up company it is extremely important not to get bogged down in the many possibilities and problems, but to pursue a clear vision and to carry it through the entire company. Holding on to this idea and not being discouraged by setbacks is a great challenge for a small, fragile company. Mike Tyson once said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I think that's very true. 

What has stuck most in your mind from your studies at HSBA?

Studying at HSBA was a great time for me, during which I had a lot of fun with my fellow students - working on projects during our Boston excursion or in Hamburg's nightlife. But most of all, it was a time in which I learned a lot and acquired the tools for the subsequent challenges in my professional life. My Master's degree gave me the necessary space to bring the knowledge I had learnt from my Bachelor's degree into an overall context and to understand how the individual areas link together. This of course helps for an overall understanding of business and strategy development.

I can actually break it down into specific study areas: in our seminars we dealt a lot with the effects of information asymmetries and how to deal with them correctly. Every day I experience how important it is to resolve these asymmetries through transparency and communication. The tools I learned during my studies help me tremendously.

I am particularly grateful to my mentor, Jochen Spethmann (board member of VEEK e.V.), with whom I worked a lot on self management and time management during my studies at HSBA. He was a really good coach. The techniques he taught me still help me in my daily work and sparked a passion for this discipline in me.

Any words of advice for the students at HSBA?

The Master's programme at HSBA really helped me to better understand the complex interrelationships in today's business world. This developed curiosity and the self-confidence to try out my own ideas and march out onto the playing field. I can honestly recommend every student to take the momentum from their studies and pursue their goals with self-confidence and commitment using their newly acquired knowledge, and perhaps to dare a little bit more than they can initially imagine.


fliit – Freshness as key to Success 
fliit is a food logistics provider that offers flexible, full-service solutions through a German-wide network of carriers. Their mission is to make food logistics simple, efficient and carefree for everyone. With its last mile service fliit offers food retailers a comfortable option to find available distributors. Clients such as MSG Frucht, L’Osteria, Rewe, Landgard and Hello Fresh already use the service of flit.