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

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....

Božidar Aleksandrović, Owner Of Aleksandrović Winery

Taste Of The Exotic

The Aleksandrović family has been engaged in viticulture and winemaking for almost 120 years. As the owners of 75 hectares of vineyards, they produce...

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...

The UŠĆE Personal Shopper

Do You Want To Be The Best Version Of Yourself?

Construct your own high-quality personal style with The UŠĆE Personal Shopper UŠĆE Shopping Center has developed its own concept of the “Personal Shopper” service, which...

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...

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,...

Chris Pavlovski / CEO Of Rumble

Rumblings On Rumble’s Battle Against Cancel Culture

The latest news from popular video-sharing platform Rumble is the launch of its new online store dedicated to official Rumble merchandise, Rumble.Store, which is...

John Paul Dejoria / Entrepreneur, Self-made Billionaire And Philanthropist

From Greetings Cards To Billion-dollar Tequila & Beauty Empires

Here we bring you four tenacious life lessons from successful, transformational entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria Seeking to increase your turnover during the year ahead? Then...

Mills Menser, Founder Of Diamond Banc And Owner Of Buchroeders Jewelers

From Pricey Trinkets To Valuable Assets

When Mills Menser bought his own family’s successful jewellery business from his father in 2007, he wasn’t motivated by a desire to merely increase...

Ryan Reynolds, Actor, Entrepreneur

Accidentall Advertising Industry Powerhouse

Ryan Reynolds may be best known for the dry-witted, permanently quipping persona he plays in nearly all his films, but away from the camera,...

Serbian Government Adopts Air Protection Action Plan For 2022 to 2030

The Ministry of Environmental Protection announced that the Government of Serbia has adopted the Air Protection Program for the...

Dina Boluarte Peru’s First Female President

Dina Boluarte became Peru's first female president after her former boss and predecessor, Pedro Castillo, was ousted and then...

Ambassador Christopher Hill: Open Balkans A Necessary Process

Open Balkans initiative is a necessary process that is in no any way competition to the Berlin Process, said...

Ambassador Of Japan Presented Awards For Contribution To The Promotion Of Japanese Culture

In the Residence of the Ambassador of Japan, H.E.  Katsumata Takahiko, the ambassador presented five new "Recognitions of the...

USAID And Youth With Disabilities Forum Launched Project To Empower Persons With Disabilities

the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Youth with Disabilities Forum launched a four-year, $2 million...