Meet the business angel who launched Rocket Internet: “Samwer always had a knack for timing”



Even the biggest entrepreneurs need support when they first strike out on their own. The same goes for Oliver Samwer, whose net worth is now valued at  approximately 1 billion. Here’s the business angel who launched Rocket Internet: professor Horst Albach (picture: right).

At the end of the 1980′s, Albach held a chair in Business Administration and Organizational Theory at the WHU. One of his students was Oliver Samwer, founder of the famous and infamous Rocket Internet, the “cloning factory” behind Zalando, Wimdu, Emeza

In fact, Samwer’s first business was also a clone: of eBay. And he needed money to start it, so he tapped Albach for some funding. Albach says in an interview with HBM that he sank “quite a bit of money” into Alando (!), the first Samwer clone.

Shortly after, a venture capitalist called Albach to ask about this young Samwer kid. When Albach said he had personally invested in Alando, the VC followed suit.

Alando went online in September 1998, and from the very beginning, the Samwers showed a ruthless dedication to execution that still characterises them today. In an interview with the New York Times in 1999, Samwer explains that they sold their childhood model trains to get Alando going. (“Mom is still really sad about those trains.“)

Alando was sold to eBay in september 1999, barely a year after it was launched, for $ 43 million. “Oliver always had a knack for timing. That’s something you can’t learn in business schools,” says Albach, who is a shareholder in eBay to this day.

[via HBM via Gründerszene]

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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