Michael Radomski, 46, founded the start-up Uplink in Düsseldorf in 2013, which handles the transmission of the FM signal via antennas for private and public radio stations. Ex-Post Minister Christian Schwarz-Schilling is one of his investors. Uplink has a market share of 50 percent and has a turnover of around 30 million euros.
You used to deal with mobile communications as a manager, but now you ensure that FM radio reaches the listeners. How did you end up there?
MICHAEL RADOMSKI: I’ve had a deeper interest in telecommunications law for a long time. When coalition agreements or amendments to the Telecommunications Act were passed, I looked closely at them. In May 2012 there was a change that cleared the way for new providers of FM radio network operations. At that time I had just sold my online marketing agency and had time to deal with it.
How did you get the idea that you could make money by opening the market?
At the beginning I had no concrete business idea. But when I dealt with the change in the law, it quickly became clear to me that a niche market is opening up here – but a niche in which there will hardly be any competitors.
They were dealing with a long, closed market and a strong ex-monopolist. Didn’t that deter you?
Sure, that was high risk. But that was also exciting for me. Shortly after the start, many radio broadcasters told us: We no longer want to be dependent on the previous monopoly Media Broadcast. But winning the channels for a change was not easy. The Media Broadcast wanted to keep us out of all ways – for example, by warning the broadcasters of alleged impending transmission failures. Some things went pretty messy.
Did you ever feel like you couldn’t make it?
I often went to bed with the question of how to proceed. But I ran a half marathon at that time. There was a spectator standing at kilometer 18 with a sign: “Running back would be wrong.” That’s how I always saw it. But of course, things were knife-edge in many places.
When did you know that you are at kilometer 21, i.e. at your destination?
It was not until late summer 2018, when the former monopolist’s attempt to evade regulation by selling the transmitter antennas failed. If he had gotten away with it, we would have been finished.
And when was your first million there?
My assets consist primarily of my company shares. And by the end of 2018, we had no real company valuation. When it was there, a bank accepted a small co-partner’s shares as collateral for a loan. I understood that the uplink shares are really worth something.
You have a pilot’s license and love flying. Have you rewarded yourself for your success – for example with a small jet?
My pilot license expired recently because I didn’t fly enough times during the set-up phase. The only thing I allowed myself during that time was a dilapidated farm on the Lower Rhine. Now a little spa is coming in. I’m still a few million euros away from my own jet.
First million appears in Personal-Financial.com every month. More interviews from this series can be found here. Interested in capital? Click here for the subscription shop, where you can order the print edition. Our digital edition is available on iTunes and GooglePlay