Karsten Klapp, born in Germany, has decided together with his wife to move to and live in Kosovo and open a business. They have started GoBeyond with a vision to create a sustainable product to serve Kosovo and the Western Balkans. GoBeyond has started to build a research center for sustainable production of high-quality insect protein in Kosovo.
They operate in Laplje Selo, a village some 5 miles away from Prishtina. In November 2020, GoBeyond started experimenting on insect protein as a new agricultural branch for the region and tackling the growing protein dilemma: in 2030 already, globally 60.000.000 tons of protein will be missing annually as human food. Insect protein is ideal as feed for farm animals and pets, but also as human food. Now, GoBeyond has started an insect farm laboratory in an industrial space in Laplje Selo, producing 100% organic & zero-waste insect protein with a special focus on making production climate friendly.
We chatted with Karsten Klapp who gave us some insights into his decision to open a business in Kosovo, his company’s goals, and the potential he sees in Kosovo. Mr. Klapp also shares with us some personal experiences, the books he would like to recommend to others, and a trait he doesn’t like in others.
When did you decide to be a business owner?
I always wanted to have my own business, and now, having come to Kosovo, it became clear to me that it’s the time to do it. We came here in 2019 and since then we have been thinking what we could do as a business to create jobs and have some positive impact here in Kosovo.
What are your company’s goals?
Our goal is to produce protein from insects for food on a large scale, which we learned is not an easy task. In the Western Balkans we are probably the first ones to try this. In the long term, the goal is to support and introduce a new agricultural segment to the area in which we live.
What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?
Everything is about people. Life becomes colorful when people are happy, when they learn to work together and create something new. And my belief is that sustainable success depends on collaboration and people being able to work in an environment in which they can unfold their talents and capacities. Take responsibility and contribute to something greater.
Is there a book you would like to recommend?
There are two books which I find very interesting. The first one is “Reinventing organizations” by Frederic Laloux. It describes how to restructure organizations in a way that will allow for decisions to be made at the working level, on a team basis. The second book was written by the commander of the atomic submarine of the US navy, L. David Marquet and is called “Turning the ship around”. He had changed all the command instructions on the command board so that he wouldn’t need to make decisions anymore. Instead, all decisions were made by his team on board. He said that in the end there was only one thing he was doing by himself, namely, acting when he gets the order to press the button to release a bomb. This is what he does by himself, he doesn’t want his team to do that. And this is very interesting, to learn how much responsibility people are able to take on and in which areas the commander, or the owner of a company, has much more responsibility for creating an environment where people can unfold their talents and grow personally. In the Navy, all submarines are rated according to their performance. When he took over the boat, it had been rated as the one with the worst performance, but when his mission was finished, the performance of the submarine was the best in the whole navy. That speaks for itself.
Is there any book you would have liked to have read, but you haven’t yet?
There are many. When it comes to running a business, I think we have to rethink business structures. There is one book actually, that I have just bought. It’s called “Future skills” by Peter Spiegel and others. Because the skills we will need in the future will be different, and what we learn in the schools and universities now is not enough and what we will need in the future. People can always learn facts or what is required, but the most important is to have people who are eager to both learn new things, reflect on what they’ve learnt and are open to advance with a posture of learning. So, the additional skills we need in the future are very different. This book is on my desk; I haven’t read it yet. It’s next.
What is the most treasured possession that you have?
The most treasured is my belief. As Baha’is, we believe that we are created to move forward an ever-advancing civilization and that we are created to contribute something for the betterment of the world. The founder of the Baha’i Faith describes that the earth is just one country and mankind its citizens. And the time in which we live now is the time of unity, and we all live as the members of one body. So, when we use our whole capacity as humankind, that is when the body can function best. The decision to come to Kosovo was made because of this. We would like to contribute.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
That is a good question. You know, I think to be remembered for bringing others some joy. We are created to be happy. In the end life primarily, it is not about money. I believe it’s about the relationships we have. So, I would be happy to know that some people remember me for bringing a bit of happiness to their lives.
What is the trait that you most like about yourself?
I cannot stop having new ideas. Sometimes it’s not easy but it’s fun.
What is the trait you most despise in others?
I don’t like dishonesty.
If a film was made about you, who would you like to be the actor that would play you?
Now, I should know actors, huh? Ha ha. I like Tom Hanks. But I have never reflected about this.
What message you would like to give to young people?
I would like for them to see the opportunities that Kosovo has. I can understand the decrease of hope they might feel. I can understand the frustration. I can understand their vision somewhere else and not in Kosovo, but I want to encourage them to open their eyes to the possibilities that Kosovo has, because there are so many. Even though the situation in Kosovo is difficult for youth, I am convinced, no, certain that its future is great. Everyone should contribute to it. By leaving the country, we don’t make it better. The young people we have in Kosovo are wonderful and well-educated. They have vision and energy, and when they start to work together, this country can be a different country in just a few years.