Axel graduated from the University of Dortmund, Germany, with a Masters Degree in Computer Science. He was later employed at the University of Dortmund from 1985 to 1992, where he contributed to the establishment of UNIX networking as a publicly available service in Germany. This institution introduced Internet access services to the business community and general public.
From 1987-1991, he also served as a member of the Board of the German Unix Users Group (GUUG).
Understanding the demand for a commercial operation to provide Internet services, Axel founded EUnet Deutschland GmbH in 1992 and commercialised the operation. Under his leadership, EUnet Deutschland GmbH became the market leader in Germany and one of the strongest EUnet networks in Europe.