Project Description

Anna Deyerling

CEO & Founder, Sitzfeldt

After graduating from university in 1996, she started as a consultant at Accenture. Eventually she founded and still operates the online sofa retailer Sitzfeldt with her brother and a friend. 

  • How were your years as a student?  

I studied information management in Hildesheim initially. Like many others who study this I didn’t really know what it was that I studied and what to do with it. I decided to do the MEB program at ESCP Europe to get a broader view.

The first semester in Berlin was great fun and I knew I would have to come back. In my final semester in London I met so many people I’m still in touch with today. Just 2 weeks ago, I visited a friend from that time in Sydney. All in all, the year at ESCP Europe gave me a lot of self-confidence: I had the feeling I was able to learn anything.


  • How did you get your first job?

In my first semester in Berlin, I already applied for some consulting firms. It’s always been my plan to go into consulting somehow. I think I wanted to learn a lot on various topics and didn’t want to choose an industry yet. I got a few job offers and signed with Accenture before even going to London.

Sitzfeldt SET – Product Presentation
  • How was your time at Accenture?

In retrospective, my time at Accenture was very important. I learned the tools of the trade there. Like all the big consultancies they are methodologically very strong. You learn everything about structure, project management, etc.

Nevertheless I had a bit of a shock in the beginning. I was in the flow, got my first salary and was called elite all of a sudden. But then I realized I had to do the simplest jobs and work my way up before getting to the interesting stuff. I expected this, but in reality it hit me hard. Luckily, there were some people at Accenture that recognized my talents and fostered my development.


  • What kind of projects were you on and what have you learnt?

I started to work in the public sector, for the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency). It doesn’t sound sexy but it was a huge project that involved the transformation of processes and IT infrastructure. Quite unusual for a consulting project, I was on it for more than one and a half years. I was at the front and learnt every facet of a consulting project. And I also discovered my affinity to change management.

Following the first project I had many short ones all over Germany. Though I worked at Accenture in Berlin, I was on the road constantly. After two and a half years I led my own team and learnt a lot about team dynamics. The structure that is provided helps to work together with many different people. You realize the importance of feedback rounds and performance indicators – first for yourself and then while leading a team.

“My first reaction was to declare them insane”
  • Why did you leave Accenture and joined the French plane/train manufacturer Bombardier? 

In the end, I’ve had enough: The constant travelling, the lack of international projects and the insane work load. At this point, I didn’t search for jobs actively but one day I got a call from a head-hunter who was recruiting for a change management position at Bombardier.

It was exactly what I was looking for and what I was good at: A huge transformation project in finance, reporting directly to Bombardier’s global CFO. Though I was working in Berlin, the work environment was much more international. It was the perfect job for me even though I only stayed there nine months.


  • You founded your own company Sitzfeldt after nine months. How did that happen? 

Well, my brother and a friend of his invited me for dinner while I was still working at Bombardier. They told me their plan of founding a company in the online furniture shopping business and that they saw me on the team. My first reaction was to declare them insane.

But already on the way home, I quickly realized that they would do it with me or without me. I thought I’d regret it if I didn’t join. In the end, it took less than three weeks and I resigned from my position at Bombardier. I never planned to start a company, it just happened and today I’m very happy with it.

“As a woman, the flexibility here is very important”
  • How was the founding process of Sitzfeldt?

Clemens and Julius, my two co-founders, knew each other since high school. They always had the plan to set something up eventually. When they approached me, the rough idea was to build a company around online furniture shopping but nothing specific.

We founded Sitzfeldt in March 2010 and went online in September 2010. During the course of a few months we pulled off the business plan and strategy that we still have today and went online with an entire collection.

My experiences as a consultant were worth a mint. We also hired an external consultant for brand communication. It was a huge investment for us but he was worth every penny. Back then we made the plan to not only sell furniture online but to build a brand: Sitzfeldt – Einfach Sofa (simply sofa).

Right before we launched, there was a lot of press coverage about online furniture shopping and a spirit of optimism. Especially myfab in France and the newly founded Avandeo. Sitzfeldt never really created a hype but we’re still operating today while most of the others are liquidated or struggling.


  • What do you like about being a founder?

It’s nothing surprising but for me crucial: it’s a whole different kind of working. Sitzfeldt is my baby and I enjoy it a lot. On the other hand though, we have to do a lot on our own. Even if it means sometimes to deliver the sofas to a photo shooting. Our approach is very lean: we don’t want a huge workforce but try to do everything with a small team.

Besides, founding my own company has brought me in a good position for a better work-life balance. We all work a lot but we are also more flexible. I’m getting my second child soon and the others have also started a family now. As a woman, the flexibility here is very important.

“It’s all about developing Sitzfeldt as a brand”
  • How do you manage to co-lead the company with your brother and his friend?

We have a clear division of work, in terms of function. I’m responsible for marketing and service. My brother Clemens is responsible for logistics and IT and Julius for product development and finance. But we’re a close team and all major decisions are made together.

We separate our professional and personal life strictly, in particular my brother and I. That helps. The both of us are very close but we never talk about business issues when we’re off work.

On top, we have a very structured way of dealing with conflicts. We use structured talks with predefined rules where everyone can say what’s bothering him or her without any interference. Then, we take a stroll, let it sink and only after this it’s allowed to respond. This helps a lot and it’s something I’ve learnt during my time at Accenture.


  • What are your plans for the future? What are you working on right now?

We’re still building a business here and one of our main priorities is to make Sitzfeldt profitable. This means we have to do our homework and optimize purchasing, ensure logistics and so on.

Additionally, it’s all about developing Sitzfeldt as a brand. We have to answer questions like: who do we collaborate with? how do we communicate? or how do we advertise? For this reason we develop new products and collections with designers like Sebastian Herkner who won the German design award. One of our newest projects is to let fashion designers have a try at reinventing the modern sofa of today. Thus, we try to build up credibility and trust in the market.

  • Thanks for sharing your story.