2015: Speech - Zalando Board

The Management Board of Zalando SE, David Schneider, Rubin Ritter and Robert Gentz, presented their well-known company to the excited audience at #IdeaLab15 in Vallendar.

All of them are WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management alumni and therefore familiar with the campus and they surprised the audience when stating that they never expected to be as successful as they are today, underlined by a financial statement of an estimated 60 million euros in revenue.

Their ambition was to build a brand to sell shoes and clothing at first in Germany and after two years in fourteen other markets.

2013 though was a difficult year as everybody got used to success and growth of the company, but the three friends decided that it was “time to clean up”.

This strategy was followed by the company´s IPO described by the Management Board as one of the best moments they ever had.

Today, they follow the motto “Don´t take the foot off the gas” and try to connect fashion with people at an even larger scope. Translation: create a close relationship between customers on the one hand and brands, stylists and bloggers on the other hand.

During the Q&A after the presentation, they were asked to explain their social marketing strategy: Zalando uses campaigns with famous people like Cara Delevigne to raise attention and create a lot more engagement.

In their company, the basic thought is “Team first – Ego second” and this is what the Management Board stands for.

When asked a popular, but definitely difficult question, which was to give one entrepreneurial advice they referred to the Nike slogan “Just do it”. They don´t like “bank founders” who already know when they want to exit and present this attitude to potential investors. Learning along the way, jumping in and being ready to take risks and also to disappoint yourself are key and this is what every participant and potential founder at #IdeaLab15 should appreciate.