Meet top-level founders, investors and technology-experts at IdeaLab!
(Founder & CEO)
After having graduated from WHU in 1998, Oliver founded several companies together with his brothers Alexander and Marc. The first one was the online auctioning site Alando, which was acquired by eBay only a few months after its start for $50 million. After the sale Oliver served as CEO of eBay Europe before he went on and founded Jamba!, which was acquired by Verisign for $270 million in 2004.
Since 2006, Oliver engaged in numerous investments, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zalando, Funding Circle and Lazada. In 2007, he co-founded Rocket Internet and took the company public in 2014. Rocket Internet incubates and invests in technology companies with proven business models. Rocket’s active portfolio spans more than 100 companies on six continents.
Scott graduated from UC San Diego in computing in 2002, after which he went on to work as a developer for the next 6 years. In 2008, Scott and 3 peers joined forces to found GitHub. Back then, Git used to be rather obscure and difficult to use version control system, but Scott (CIO) and his colleagues went on to turn it into the dominant system in the marked, used by the majority of all developers and companies. In 2016, Scott left GitHub in order to start working on his new project, Chatterbug. Chatterbug is a language learning app which combines the flexibility of digital language apps with the effectiveness of in-person language schools.
Adora is currently a partner at Y Combinator. She previously served as the CEO and Co-Founder of Homejoy Inc. and was on the Board of the Homejoy Foundation. Prior to Homejoy, Adora worked at Slide (acquired by Google) as a lead Product Manager where she had the opportunity to learn about startups.
When Adora left Slide to start her own company she joined forces with her brother Aaron Cheung to form Pathjoy, a startup connecting life coaches to clients online. With Pathjoy the duo were accepted to the Y-Combinator, a prestigious incubator in Mountain View. After two years the duo founded Homejoy in July 2012 and since then Adora has successfully grown the Homejoy team from just her and her brother, to a team of over 120 employees and platform that serve hundreds of thousands of households in over 30 cities across the US, Canada, UK, and Germany.
After graduating in business administration and media management, Philipp started as executive assistant to the CEO of Gruner + Jahr. During his time as an investment manager from 2007 to 2009 Philipp and two peers founded adyard GmbH which was sold to Ligatus in 2011. In the same year he founded his current company the digital marketing platform OMR (Online Marketing Rockstars). OMR is best known for its yearly OMR festival with more than 40.000 visitors. Furthermore, they publish articles on OMR Daily, host a podcast and a video format and have the biggest jobbard of the industry.
Philipp Justus is Vice President of Google Central Europe, as well as Managing Director of Google Germany. Before joining Google, he was Chief Executive Officer of Zanox, the leading European affiliate marketing network. Previously, Philipp held various executive roles at eBay, including as General Manager of eBay Europe and Senior Vice President of US Auctions. Philipp is a graduate of WHU and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Selfmade Records & Universal Music Germany (President of Rap)
In 2005, the former basketball player for Giants Leverkusen and Brandt Hagen founded the hip-hop label "Selfmade Records" and quickly grew to an institution in the German music scene, thanks to his tough approach on entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, he founded the fashion label "Pusher Apparel" and is co-founder of the water ice cream brand "Suckit".
He currently holds the position as "President of Rap" at both Universal Music and Selfmade Records.
(Co-Founder & Co-CEO)
Hakan graduated from Bucerius Law School in 2010 and was a participant at IdeaLab! in the early days. Later, he worked at Rocket Internet as an Entrepreneur in Residence and took over the Project Lead Mobile of Zalando.
After one year, he moved on to Home24, where he was Chief Product Officer for another one and a half years.
In 2012, he and Christian Bertermann founded AUTO1 Group after they had faced the problem of selling Bertermann‘s grandmother‘s car.
The initial idea for an online marketplace for used cars was born which connects sellers and dealers through innovative in-house developed technology and therefore revolutionised the way used cars are bought and sold.
Within 6 years AUTO1 Group has grown to an international player with activities in more than 30 European markets, with more than 3,500 employees and an annual sales volume of over 400,000 traded vehicles. This makes AUTO1 Group one of the highest valued private-held startups in Europe.
(Founder & CEO)
Daniel Klein is founder and CEO of leading mobile payment company SumUp. Daniel drives the company’s vision, strategy and growth. He has established SumUp as one of the leading payment companies worldwide, with a presence in 33 countries including the UK, Germany and Brazil. Alongside his Co‐founders, he has secured two double‐digit million investment rounds from partners such as American Express, Groupon, b‐to‐v and BBVA. Daniel started his career at the NATO Programming Centre in Belgium, before becoming an IT consultant in Munich and Frankfurt. He studied at the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar.
(Founder & CEO)
Frank is a European business angel, serial founder, investor and TV personality. Since 1994, Frank has founded seven technology companies and his products have reached more than 200 million consumers in over 60 countries.
As of 2010, Frank has invested in a growing number of startups, such as Lilium Aviation, Wunderlist (acquired by Microsoft) or mytaxi (acquired by Daimler AG). He is also a founding member of early-stage-focused venture capital firm Freigeist (formerly e42). Since 2014 Frank also serves as a judge and investor on the famous TV show "Die Höhle der Löwen" - the German equivalent of "Shark Tank".
Olaf Koch started his career in 1994 as manager for finance processes and systems at Daimler-Benz AG. In 1996 he founded his own IT company, before returning to Daimler in 1998. In 2000, he became VP of Corporate E-Business, and was promoted to VP Finance & Controlling in 2002.
Olaf left Daimler in 2007 and became MD Operations at private equity firm Permira.
His career in the Metro group started in 2009 as CFO, and after only two and a half years he became CEO, the position which he’s still holding today.
Henkelx (Head of Platform Development) & Wo\men Inc. (Founder)
If women focus their life on career they stand in front of many problems because of the men dominated system.
Lea Vajnorsky fights with her platform Wo/men for women who want to focus on their job by bringing them together so that they can connect all together, so that everyone of them will follow their passion as a career-focused person.
Furthermore Wo/men does not only follows the goal of supporting women. It also supports social projects all over the world.
Rahmyn Kress has been Chief Digital Officer of Henkel Management AG at Henkel AG & Co. KGaA since March 2017. Mr. Kress served as Chief Executive Officer and President at Digiplug S.A.S. Mr. Kress joined Digiplug in January 2011. Prior to his new role at Henkel, he has been with Accenture since 2010, where he held several executive roles from being the Chief Executive Officer & President of an Accenture digital subsidiary in digital supply chain, Managing Director. Rahmyn graduated at the American College in London and received an MBA and a PhD at the American University London.
(Co-Founder & CEO)
Florian is the Co-Founder and CEO of EyeEm, a global photography community and marketplace. He founded EyeEm in 2011 with friends Lorenz Aschoff, Ramzi Rizk and Gen Sadakane after his digital SLR camera was stolen in a New York subway while working as a photographer. Together, the team grew a small group of photographers into a global community of over 17 million today. Flo has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, and Wired Magazine among others and is an avid speaker on technology, entrepreneurship and the future of the photography industry. Florian studied business in Berlin, London and Vienna.
Christian is a Founding Partner at Cherry. After some years at The Boston Consulting Group, Christian joined Zalando as their first CMO. He then joined the Management Board of Peek&Cloppenburg and was responsible for the company’s online business. He holds a diploma in business administration from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. He has lived and worked in the U.S., Spain, Brazil and South Africa. Christian gets excited about founders that are as passionate about execution as they are about building a strong and sustainable brand. He has a particular focus on logistics and mobility as well a food technology companies.
SmartRecruiters (VP Global Operations) & Wo\men Inc. (Founder)
Robin joined Smartrecruiters as Managing Director following the companies acquisition of Jobspotting in December of 2016, a company that Robin co-founded. SmartRecruiters, founded in 2010 out of San Francisco, makes it easier for employers to find the right people by providing them with a software that integrates with existing recruiting channels and centralizes the entire process from potential candidate to employee.
Jobspotting on that other hand, which was founded in 2013 out of Berlin, is a recommendations engine that suggests relevant jobs to users based on their skills and experience with the use of by Skills Graph and Semantic Analysis technology. Since being founded in 2010 out of San Francisco SmartRecruiters has raised $55 million dollars in funding.
Robin is also an investor for Haak & Compagnie with several seed investments. Prior to joining Jobspotting, Robin co-founded the Berlin-based Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator and invested in over 40 international companies. He managed investments from the follow-up fund, the portfolio and operations of the accelerator. Robin also worked in M&A in the Marketing & Classifieds Division and also in Digital Ventures at Axel Springer SE, Europe's leading digital publisher.
Bryony holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing/ Business of the University of Melbourne and a Master's degree in Sexual Health of the University of Sydney.
Bryony has already managed the social media for the Australian Department of Justice.
As the Customer Success Manager of the Enterprise Social Network Yammer, Bryony became Head of Community & Thought Leadership even after the aquisition by Microsoft.
After having been Senior Director for Customer Insights at the global cloud communications and collaboration software company Fuze, Bryony became Head of Strategy & Innovation at the consulting firm Forever Beta.
Before founding her current company Future of Sex, Bryony Cole was at WNDYR as Chief of Customer Experience. Future of Sex is a podcast that keeps track of the development and innovative technological products in the sex industry.
(Founder & CEO)
Graduating from WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Felix co-founded GameGoods, Europe's leading marketplace for in-game currencies connecting online gamers in China with European gamers.
Afterwards, he founded Stylistpick, a social commerce company that partners with celebrities, stylists and influencers to curate personalised fast-fashion offers. In July 2013, the company was acquired by Hallett Retail.
As an occasional angel investor, Felix supports currently five venture-backed Startups incl. INTO, HeyJobs, Memorado, Studitemps and Divimove.
(Founder & COO)
Mr. Michael Stephan is the founder of Raisin GmbH and serves as its Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director. Raisin GmbH is the leading pan-European savings and investments marketplace connecting retail customers with banks looking to expand or diversify their deposit reach. Michael graduated at WHU, studied Philosophy at LMU and served as Junior Project Manager at McKinsey&Co.
Delivery Hero (VP Consumer) & foodpanda (Co-Founder)
Benjamin has had quite a diverse university and professional experience. He first gained his Bachelors at Maastricht University before finishing his Masters at WHU. In between, Benjamin went on multiple exchanges to the United States and India where he majored in Entrepreneurship and Business Management. After finishing university, Benjamin worked as a Business Analyst at Affinitas, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, and BV Capital.
His biggest move came in 2013 when he co-founded foodpanda. During the next four years, Benjamin helped foodpanda to cumulatively raise $318M and expand its food delivery operations to 11 global countries. In 2017, Benjamin and his team successfully led a $500M exit to Delivery Hero and he is now their VP of Consumer.
Martin Weber is the CFO of the innovative enterprise INFARM. INFARM developes urban indoor greenhouses, so that citizens have access to fresh food.
For his Bachelor studies, Martin attended HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration and he holds a Master degree from ESCP Europe.
Martin gained his first experiences in the start-up industry with the investing company Sushi Venture Partners, the networking enterprise Startupbootcamp and the digital consultancy etventure.
With Marathon Artists and Techstars, Martin has helped many artists, founders and entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.
(Director Food Innovation)
After passing Metro's International Management Trainee Program, Fabio started
Starting as an apprentice at Metro Cash & Carry, Fabian has been promoted to Head of e-commerce and later on Head of FoodTech and Food Innovation.
Nowadays, Fabio Ziemssen, as the founder, organises one of the biggest foodblogs in Germany called e-food blog.
As co-founder of FOODnext and Director of Food Innovation at NX-FOOD, Fabian focuses on the latest trends in the food market and specialises especially in innovative online markets.
(Founding Team Germany)
After graduating from the European Business School, Frederic finished his Master studies in Global Entrepreneurship at a cooperation between F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Zhejiang University and Emlyon business school.
He began his career at Rocket Internet before founding the recipe- and grocery-delivery Kochzauber Food.
Frederic has also been the CEO of greatcontent, a company that focuses on the creation of multilingual SEO and e-commerce content, especially in the traveling industry.
Being part of the Founding Team in Germany, Frederic Knaudt brings the sustainable grocery-delivery app picnic to our homes.
(CEO & Co-Founder)
After graduating from Miami University, Polly started as a Consultant at Deloitte.
Since she didn't really like the consulting job and didn't want to go back to a business school, Polly entered the relationship business when working for Grouper.
Using algorithms and team members analysing information from facebook, Grouper connected similar people within one city and invited them to a date.
Today, Polly Rodriguez is the CEO and co-founder of Unbound, a New York City-based sex toy-selling company and she's on a mission to empower women to take control of their sexual health.
(Founder & CEO)
After graduating from the University of Hamburg, Martin Kassing gained first experiences at Rocket Internet.
At Avedon Capital Partners, Martin Kassing became Investment Manager/Operating Partner supporting several fast-growing, exceptional entrepreneurs and their start-ups.
Martin has also been COO and Senior Vice President of Shop.co revolutionising online paying systems and eventually selling the company to Klarna.
His career continued as CPO at FinLeap before founding Upvest, a start-up empowering the next generation of investors by facilitating access to innovative blockchain investments.
(EVP Europe & CCO)
Marcel Schneider is an alumnus of the Bachelor and Master program of WHU - Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management.
After his graduating, he went to SumUp and stayed there till today. Starting as a Vice President of Online Marketing, Marcel moved up to Marketing Vice President before becoming Executive Vice President Europe & Chief Commercial Officer of SumUp.
SumUp is the leading company of financing technology simplifying and securing mobile payments.
Mal Harrison is a sexologist, therapist, educator, TEDx speaker, and the founder of Center for Erotic Intelligence.
Previously she served as resident sexologist & advice columnist for the Museum of Sex where her research on the internal clitoris went viral, heralding her as a pioneer of clit-feminism and changing the way women understand how their bodies work.
The Center for Erotic Intelligence helps people and relationships to know, balance and express their desires and feelings.
As a member of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, Mal supports research of several areas connected to the human sexuality.
Stephen is leading the product and development team to deliver and build content recommendation and a distribution platform that reaches 120 million users and counting.
Opinary helps the world's leading brands and publishers engage, understand and convert their most valuable audiences at scale. They are trusted by brands like Microsoft, Mastercard or Ford. Top Publisher like CNBC, Times, and 19 out of Germany's top 20 sites use their technology to build meaningful relationships with loyal users – the key to thriving in a platform age.
(Director, P2P payments)
As director of Wavy, the P2P payment product from payment unicorn Klarna, he offers anyone across Europe the ability to pay anyone with a smartphone. Lamine's work builds on experience as product manager, building the first iteration of N26 to disrupt broken banking processes. Then, aiming to disrupt P2P payments in Europe, he founded Cookies, later acquired by Klarna and relaunched as Wavy. Lamine's work began with his first company Cheloufi, offering handcrafted design and development in the design and graphic industry. Lamine is an alumni of Cologne Business School, with a Masters in Management and IT at the University of St. Andrews.
(Marketing Lead Germany)
Julana holds a Bachelor degree of Arts in the English and Russian Language and Literature. Afterwards, she has gained various experiences as a Marketing & Communications Manager in different companies.
Her career path took her from the fashion e-commerce company 7trends-Enamora to co-founding Fashionism, a New-York-based discount-offering Luxury Brand online-shop.
After a stop at Amen., a mobile focused Berlin based start up showing your friends' or the world's anwser to serveral questions, Julana worked for HQ-Patronen, a trusted online shop for printer ink and toner supplies.
In 4 years, Julana helped grow Uber in Berlin and many German cities and was lately promoted to Marketing Lead Germany.
Being fluent in English and Russian, Alexey has designed e-commerce platforms for Sabre Travel Network and Online Travel Agencies in Moscow for Gridnine Systems.
After that, Alexey Lapusta has worked as a Software and Presales Engineer for Backbase, a fast growing fintech software provider that empowers financial institutions to accelerate their digital transformation and effectively compete in a digital-first world.
Today Alexey is a Solutions Architect for Mambu, a company that designs resilient cloud-native architectures and provides a flexible SaaS platform in order to help financial institutions to create, launch and service any lending or deposit portfolio in constantly changing markets.
Jan Miczaika is Partner at HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. Previously, Jan was COO at Wooga, a Berlin-based developer of mobile games (and a HV investment).
Before Wooga, Jan co-founded Hitmeister, an e-commerce marketplace later sold to Real – METRO Group. At Hitmeister Jan focused on Product & IT, including developing key parts of the platform.
Since 2007 Jan has been an angel investor in almost 20 companies. Examples include Audibene (sold to Sivantos/EQT), Blacklane, MAR (sold to Grünenthal Pharma), Wooga, Jodel, Equippo, Homeday, Homelike, Selfapy.
Jan studied Business Administration at HHL in Leipzig and in the Ph.D. program at WHU.
(Segment Leader, Germany - Startups at AWS)
Marius is builder fascinated by technology innovations and entrepreneurship. Before joining Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2014, he spent almost 10 years working in different roles at startups in Europe and the US. With his startup co-founders, Marius won the Innovation Award of the German Government in 2009, but then also experienced how it feels to go big one day and go down the next one. Today, Marius and his team enable digital native companies in Germany, like DeliveryHero, Auto1 Group, Hellofresh, Acellere or Lilium, to capture global markets and maximize their business opportunities through partnering with Amazon.
After finishing her bachelor studies in Sociology, Politics & Economics at Zeppelin University, Germany in 2017 with semesters abroad in Odense and Brussels, Isabell started her MSc in International Business & Politics with a focus on HR & Management at Copenhagen Business School. Having interned at ZDF twice and BR she has a long-standing background in international media and hosting events for many years e.g. for Google Copenhagen. Further, as a speaker and student expert within the topics of the future of education and FutureSkills she had the honor to discuss with renowned experts on several conferences.
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