In a recent episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, Janis Zech shared his intriguing journey through entrepreneurship, filled with valuable insights, hard-earned lessons, and a profound passion for building impactful businesses.
As the founder and CEO of various successful startups, including Fyber and Weflow, Janis has demonstrated a remarkable ability to identify opportunities, solve complex problems, and create lasting value.
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From Humbling Beginnings to Global Impact
Janis Zech’s journey began with a unique background, growing up in a small town where he developed a strong appreciation for life’s simple blessings.
After completing his A-levels, he embarked on a life-changing experience by working at a care center for disabled children in the UK, gaining a profound perspective on life’s challenges and the value of gratitude.
This early exposure to diverse circumstances and a supportive upbringing set the stage for Janis’ entrepreneurial journey.
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The Pursuit of Passion and Impact
Janis’ entrepreneurial spirit was ignited during his college years. His curiosity about how the world operates led him to delve into various fields.
He found joy in creating, whether it was his own perfume at the age of 8 or organizing parties. This innate desire to build and create eventually led him to establish his first company at the age of 21. He emphasizes that the most crucial aspect of being a young entrepreneur is the hunger for learning.
Janis believes that optimizing for learning is paramount during the early stages of one’s entrepreneurial journey, whether it involves starting a company or learning from experienced mentors.
The Birth of Successful Ventures: Lessons Learned
Janis Zech’s journey led him to co-found Fyber, an advertising technology company that evolved into a successful mobile supply-side platform.
This platform was essentially a tool that allowed mobile apps to integrate, manage and optimize all their different ad revenue vendors. Janis raised funding worth $12.5M to build and scale the venture.
With a focus on product-market fit and solving critical industry challenges, Fyber grew to achieve impressive revenue numbers adding up to an astounding $235M within eight and a half years by the time Janis exited. However, he acknowledges that building a thriving company isn’t without its challenges.
One key lesson he shares is the importance of maintaining core operating principles and values. Having a written, living document outlining the company’s principles creates consistency in behavior, hiring practices, and promotions.
Janis emphasizes the significance of staying true to these principles, particularly when making hiring and promotion decisions, to ensure alignment with the company’s culture.
Navigating M&A and the Path Forward
Janis’ journey took an interesting turn when Fyber was acquired by RNTS Media NV. He acknowledges that the decision to sell should be based on careful evaluation of strategic value, future growth potential, and market conditions.
He stresses that building a fundamentally strong business should be the priority, with strategic partnerships or acquisitions considered to accelerate growth. Incidentally, side-by-side with Fyber, Janis also helped co-founded two other companies, Remerge and Latana.
With his latest venture, Weflow, Janis is focusing on solving problems related to the future of work. He underscores the importance of finding partners who believe in the vision and can contribute to its success.
A sales performance and intelligence platform based in Berlin, Germany, Weflow has raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round from investors like Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund, Hello World VC, and Cherry Ventures.
Angel investors like Andreas Bodczek, Bo Pedersen, and Christian Edler have also participated in the round.
Janis’ advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: trust your instincts when it comes to hiring and building a strong team, and always strive for continuous learning and growth. He also stresses infusing a strong work culture and having robust line operating principles.
Creating Lasting Impact through Entrepreneurship
Janis has now turned investor, bringing aboard “a bunch of fantastic angels,” as he puts it. In his opinion, funding companies do not necessarily need experience as a founder. But having navigated the journey of establishing companies from the ground up does help.
Janis Zech’s entrepreneurial journey exemplifies the power of passion, persistence, and a commitment to solving real-world problems. From humble beginnings to global success, his story highlights the importance of learning from experiences, staying true to one’s values, and never losing sight of the joy in creating and building.
As the entrepreneurial landscape continues to evolve, Janis Zech remains an inspiring figure, demonstrating that the journey of entrepreneurship is not just about building companies—it’s about building a legacy of impact.
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Listen to the full episode for more details, including:
- Early experiences and an appreciation for life’s simple blessings, shaped Janis’ entrepreneurial journey with humility.
- An innate desire to create and build, stemming from childhood endeavors, igniting an entrepreneurial spirit and pursuit of impactful ventures
- Prioritizing learning during the early stages of entrepreneurship is crucial for growth and success, whether starting a company or learning from mentors
- Establishing and maintaining core operating principles and values to create consistency in behavior, hiring, and promotion decisions, fostering a strong company culture
- The decision to sell should be guided by evaluating strategic value, future growth potential, and market conditions, with a focus on building a fundamentally strong business
- Building a lasting impact requires finding partners who believe in the vision and can contribute to the venture’s success, amplifying its potential for growth
- A journey exemplifying the enduring impact of entrepreneurship—creating not just successful businesses, but a legacy of problem-solving and positive change