Sitemap

Robert Gentz, Co-CEO Zalando SE

How Robert Gentz Built €1.8B Company In 6 Years

The story of the rise of the business economist from Düsseldorf Robert Gentz to becoming the boss of the e-commerce success Zalando starts on a beach in Guatemala. Gentz was vacationing there at the beginning of 2007 and read in a newspaper that StudiVZ was sold to Holtzbrinck Publishers for a giant €85 million. “I found it fascinating,” Gentz later recalled. He asked himself, “How can a website be so valuable? What is valuable about it?”

Gentz could not forget the deal. He wanted to found his own internet company. His situation could hardly be better: Gentz was 23 at the time with a degree from the WHU in his pocket along with internships at Boston Consulting Group and Morgan Stanley. He also had a love for Latin America, which he shared with his friend from university David Schneider. A few months later they founded their first startup in Monterrey, Mexico, where Gentz studied for one semester. It was called Unibicate, a social network for universities in Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

As well-connected WHU graduates, they did not have any difficultly finding investors. They even went to Oliver Samwer who responded to their idea with: “Ridiculous!” And Samwer was right. Programmers for Unibicate were hard to find and the money from investors became scarce. In 2008, Robert Gentz and David Schneider ended the project. At this point, both were living for eight months with no salary, as Gentz told author Hagen Seidel years later.

ZALANDO SE MANAGEMENT BOARD (FLTR): DAVID SCHRÖDER, JIM FREEMAN, RUBIN RITTER, ROBERT GENTZ, DAVID SCHNEIDER ZALANDO

The failed founders were so broke that they did not have enough money to buy a plane ticket back to Europe. Once again, they turned to Oliver Samwer – and this time with success. Samwer paid their return flight for them. In return, they both worked for many months at his price comparison portal tarifas24.

A short time later Gentz and Schneider were already looking for their next idea. They did not let themselves be discouraged by their failure. Instead, they claimed to have learned from it. “It was very clear to me that we should not try to found another social network,” explains Gentz. The model was “hardly predictable and difficult to scale.”

ZALANDO OFFICES

They began their second attempt back in Germany: an online shoe store that was modeled after Zappos in the U.S., which was later acquired by Amazon. This time Samwer invested: Alexander, the youngest of the three brothers, participated at the start with €50,000 and provided them with programmers from Rocket Internet in Berlin. They tested their model with an online shop for flip-flops. Gentz looked mainly after online marketing and customer support. “We were so always so happy when a customer would call,” recalls Gentz. “We could then ask the customer what works well on the website and what does not.” In the fall of 2008, they moved into their first office on Torstrasse in Berlin. Zalando was officially founded and the success story began.

ZALANDO HEADQUARTERS

Robert Gentz, David Schneider and Rubin Ritter, who joined in 2010, are still managing the company. Zalando today, however, has little in common with the startup that began in 2008. The company now employs over 5,000 employees and had €1.8 billion in turnover in 2013 – up by more than 50%.

Is a startup founder also the right leader for the management of a corporation? Robert Gentz is convinced, “We have done everything ourselves, and we still know how the process works.” He believes that this is a huge benefit “in comparison to big corporations that come from the outside of the company’s management.”

Related Articles

Dragoljub Zamurović, architect, photographic artist

Painter With A Camera

Dragoljub Zamurović is the author of numerous photo monographs in which he preserved the beauty of the landscapes, countries and cities that represented the...

New Era

It was at some point in November 2005, when Chris Patten was already the former European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, that “recognition” came from...

Amra Latifić, Belgrade Faculty Of Media And Communications

Every Day Is A New Beginning

My motto is “Man becomes what he thinks”. In life I accept the thesis that destiny is largely shaped by character. Emotional investments, the...

Maruša Kerč Vesel, Regional Executive Director At Kovintrade Celje; Director At Kovintrade Belgrade

Step Further On Progress

Kovintrade is a group that comprises the parent company, Kovintrade from Celje, and a network of subsidiaries with offices in 10 European countries, more...

The Impact Of Artistic Creativity On Poland

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Poland did not exist as a state, but was divided between Austria, Russia, and Prussia....

Marica Bošković Petronijević, Managing Director, Work Space One

Work Space One More Than A Space

Work Space One is technically equipped according to the world’s highest standards. Functionally more perfect compared to other spaces of this type in Belgrade,...

H.E. Yahel Vilan, Ambassador Of Israel To Serbia

Game Changer From Washington

Under the current political situation between Belgrade and Priština, but even more so with the whole package the U.S. administration put on the table,...

Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative For The Belgrade-Priština Dialogue

Time To Bring The Process To An End

The Washington meeting covers previous dialogue agreements and topics currently under discussion in Brussels, already existing EU-financed infrastructure projects and the positions of the...

More...

NASA Awarded Space X a $2.9 Billion Contract To Build A Spacecraft To Bring Astronauts To The Moon In 2024

NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as...

Dr. Timothy Springer, Scientist, Serial Entrepreneur & Social Advocate

From A Professor To A Billionaire

Timothy Springer, Ph.D., is a professor at Harvard Medical School. He’s an immunologist known for his pioneering work in discovering the first integrins and...

Zuo Hui Zuo Chairs Homelink, China’s Largest Real Estate Brokerage Firm

Billionaire Zuo Hui Dominates China’s Property Transactions Market

Mainland China didn’t yet have a billionaire back in 2000 when Beijing entrepreneur Zuo Hui struck upon the then-novel idea of selling homes to...

Jeff Bezos Steps Down As Amazon CEO

Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO of Amazon. Jeff Bezos said Tuesday that he will step down...

News

New Enlargement Methodology Will Be Applied To Montenegro And Serbia

The Council agreed on the application of the revised enlargement methodology to the accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia,...

Escalating Mideast Violence Bears Hallmarks Of 2014 Gaza War

After the EU Enlargement Commissioner suggested separating the start of Albania's and North Macedonia's EU membership talks, Germany and...

Germany, Slovakia Oppose ‘Disjointing’ Albania’s, North Macedonia’s EU Path

After the EU Enlargement Commissioner suggested separating the start of Albania's and North Macedonia's EU membership talks, Germany and...

Improvement Of Cooperation With US One Of Foreign Policy Priorities

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selakovic stated today, during a meeting with Ambassador of the United States of America...

AFD and World Bank Support Serbia’s Green Agenda To The Tune Of €234 Million

The public policy loans in support of green recovery as well as the support program for the modernization of...