TUM-BWL student Philipp Christov and his tin can telephone – the journey itself is the reward

Phillip Christov, a Bachelor in Management & Technology (TUM-BWL) student at TUM School of Management, launched his “dasDosentelefon” project one year ago. The starting point was a tin can telephone, which was then swapped for items of a similar or higher value. In line with the motto, “Swap to stop war,” Phillip will donate all of the proceeds from the swap project to help with the integration of children and young people.

How does one go from a toy, costing only 78 cents, to a corporate event worth 10,000 euros? Well, you can find out on Phillip’s page.

I met with Philip at the TUM School of Management for an interview and kicked things off with some questions about university:

What are you studying?

I’m doing my Bachelor in Management & Technology (TUM-BWL) degree at TUM School of Management. I am now in my third year, so I’ll soon be wrapping up my studies. I’ve only got to write my thesis, and then I’m done. As my focus, I opted for Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Computer Science. It was the most interesting mix in my opinion, especially when you think about all the tech entrepreneurs over in Silicon Valley.


Did those companies inspire you and your project?

Not directly. Zuckerberg and others have achieved something. They haven’t just talked about it or planned things. They went out and actually did something. I wanted to do that too: not just plan things out, but also make something. This principle, the idea of actually doing something is what I admire in people, regardless of what they do. I’m from Walldorf, where the SAP founder Dietmar Hopp lives. He’s someone who is involved in the community, donating and supporting different causes. In many ways, he is a role model.

So, for your own project, did you then decide on an analog starting point?

Exactly. A tin can telephone is quite a funny device, when you pick one up in your hands.

Ah, so that’s how it all started. How did you come up with the swap idea?

I wanted to do something unusual and, at the same time, do something good, something feasible. You practice and pick up a lot of things, for example, how to use your words well and how to approach people. In that sense, the journey itself has been the reward to a certain extent, as I had to try things out as the project developed.

How were things in terms of support at the beginning?

I got a lot of help from Sieglinde Mesch, and Patrick Schmidt really went the extra mile, as he gave me information about the legal framework for such a project. And for that, I am extremely grateful. It was also fantastic because Schiwani Kakor also supported me with her photographs.

The project is now finished, but how did it all end?

At TUM, there were and there still are theme nights. One of the talks was about “successful corporate culture.” That’s when I met Hans from Pixida for the first time. One year later, I threw a company party as a swap and exchange evening. I wondered who would “enjoy being with others” and who could see “diversity as enrichment.” I then phoned up Pixida and after several e-mails and personal meetings with Iota and Alice from the company, it was clear that we had a deal: Pixida paid for a party worth 10,000 euros. The money went to Bellevue di Monaco, an organization that supports the integration of children and adolescents.

What have you learned from your project?

My plans to make a difference in society were severely limited given the lack of financial resources. However, that was a poor excuse. You can always do something. Always. On top of that, I learned that you should not let yourself be too quickly deterred just because of an obstacle. When someone says “No,” you should dig deeper and try to find out why they declined. That way, you can better understand the other person and then address the situation. If I had accepted every single “No” that I got, then I would probably have given up a long time ago.

Thank you for your time!

This interview was conducted by Carina Koch.

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