Lab1886 moves to Atlanta – let’s create something meaningful

What a journey it has been: born in Massachusetts, educated in Savannah, lived in California and now – I’m in Atlanta. There’s a lot going on around me at the Grand Opening of Daimler’s incubator Lab1886 in the US where I will be its CEO – I realize, this is the right step!

I’ve had several interesting challenges in working-life. In design agencies, tech companies, or start-up incubators. They seemed to be the right ones in the right times. Each stage of life used to have its own characteristics and challenges.

With over 20 years of experience in user insights, business development and product innovation, I worked in several different positions. Recently at BCG Digital Ventures in Los Angeles, where I built and led cross-functional teams in the creation of digital products for start-ups and corporations.

Combining past experiences into one

I also had the opportunity to work for multiple industries, to help corporations identify the next business disruptions in the industry and build portfolios of companies to address those disruptions. But most off all, I see myself as a creator.

Why did Lab1886 decide to open their US subsidiary in Atlanta?

In the last few years, we have watched Atlanta carefully: excellent colleges and universities educate highly skilled and motivated graduates have gathered here. Plus, more and more innovative digital start-ups made the capital of Georgia their home.

In addition, Atlanta is a corporate hub, where various Fortune 500 companies are located. For this reason Lab1886 – the corporate incubator of Daimler AG – consciously decided to open their new US office in Atlanta. As Atlanta is increasingly becoming a technology and digital hotspot in the US, it is the right place to find highly skilled talents for our innovation hub to foster new ideas.

Susanne Hahn and Guy Kawasaki

Atlanta also functions as a base for our customers, which are located close by – like MBUSA for example. It is also the perfect base to reach our internal partners, such as Daimler Trucks North America, Freightliner, MBFS, RDNA and others, which are operating throughout the United States.

I want to bring ideas to life. As simple as that. In the business world this process can be divided in three steps: innovation, incubation and commercialization. This is how new products, services, or businesses come into this world. But what truly fulfills, is to create something meaningful.

There are a lot of things, which do not lead to positive satisfaction in the long-term. Most of the time, something is missing. Until you realize that you need according Herzberg’s two factor theory of high hygiene AND high motivational factors – like I did.

Opportunities like never before

It was time to change something in my life. That’s why I am here. The Automotive industry is changing at an incredible pace. This creates interesting opportunities to build new products and services on top of technological innovations that could not be achieved before. Motivated by the ability to have a big impact in this industry, by influencing and shaping what the new driving experience will be like in the future, I started at Lab1886

This corporate incubator offers unique possibilities. It enables people to work with a start-up approach, but within a well-established company. Which happens to be a world leader in the automotive industry. Just the “best of both worlds”. And I’m a part of it. On top I am given the opportunity to form a team of strategists, innovators and builders.


Yan Song, Paul Lafata and Alexander Ernst (the new Lab-Atlanta-Management) with Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki.

Fulfillments and Philosophies

I am convinced: real fulfillment comes from using design to create new experiences that can change people’s lives for the better. As an industry, we’re only at the beginning of what we will see in future innovation. Daimler is already advanced in technology and progressive in thinking, so this will position us well in making new businesses.

I believe that the best ideas and partnerships come from co-creation, where we can leverage strengths of industry and business unit expert insiders and infuse them with new perspectives and (design thinking) processes from outside.

I’m here so let’s start and get our hands dirty – even in the digital age.

By the way: regarding dreams, motivations, sustainable values in life and Mercedes.
Did I tell you about my plans to build a custom trailer and take a road trip across the USA with my family in our Mercedes?
My family will love it.

About Lab1886 in Atlanta

The new Atlanta headquarters of MBUSA marks not only a highpoint for Daimler AG in the U.S. market but also embodies the cultural change within our company.
Atlanta is the perfect base to reach out to our internal partners, such as Daimler Trucks North America, Freightliner, MBFS, RDNA, etc., which are located throughout the United States.

Lab1886 in Atlanta is one important part of Daimler’s worldwide innovation machine with offices in Beijing, Berlin and Stuttgart. The global incubator network – brings together the best of both worlds: corporate experience and resources with the pioneering spirit of the start-up world.

The purpose of Lab1886 is to safeguard a sustainable and profitable future for Daimler by driving a high class innovation portfolio into reality.
We start our operation in a co-working space in Buckhead, Atlanta – here we found the perfect space to work in innovative ideas and projects in an inspiring and open office concept.

Lab1886 actively supports the transformation of Daimler AG from an automotive manufacturer to a mobility provider, and works closely with the Daimler “CASE strategy”.

Paul Lafata takes over the newly established CEO position at Lab1886 USA. He has over 20 years of experience in user insights, business development and product innovation. With deep knowledge about innovation processes, digital product development experience across multiple industries and co-creation spirit, he looks forward to this new chapter in Atlanta.