Neil Patel

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Gerhard Trautmann, the founder of Global Savings Group (GSG), is a bottle of untapped brilliance, a mind ready to unleash innovation. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Trautmann’s journey has been a geographical tapestry, weaving through Venezuela, the U.S., Portugal, and finally settling in Germany.

His early years in South America, fueled by his father’s work for European companies, imbibed in him a love for diverse cultures that would later become a cornerstone of GSG’s identity.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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    From Portugal to Germany: A Business Odyssey

    Gerhard has fond memories of his growing years in Lisbon, which he still considers an excellent place for vacations. He started his education in Germany and went on to study business.

    After university, Gerhard went into the consultation field, where he learned how to break down bigger problems into smaller bites over the next four to five years. He also learned how this strategy gives you the best ability to finally bring things to execution.

    Gerhard notes several pros and cons to the game. Among the pros, he acquired great tools like problem-solving, unit economics, and leadership skills. He learned how to structure communication frameworks in a top-down approach.

    Getting people’s buy-ins with visuals and convincing them about the specific variables that impact the KPI that everyone is working toward is another valuable strategy. Gerhard observes that consulting companies need significant investment in their early years, but the training and experience you get are invaluable.

    Aspects of consulting like moderation training, presentation training, and providing feedback shape analytical skills and leadership qualities. On the flip side, consultants are notoriously bad entrepreneurs with a high aversion to risk.

    While these founders are great at identifying and spotting the worst risks, they are not so good at recognizing opportunities. Gerhard also cautions against over-conceptualizing, which works against the entrepreneurial spirit.

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    Entrepreneurship: A Leap of Faith

    The spark for entrepreneurship ignited in Gerhard when he grew weary of consulting’s lack of ownership and tangible impact. In 2011-2012, the internet beckoned with opportunities, leading him and his friends to venture into the uncharted territory of online gifting.

    Gerhard talks about this encounter with Oliver Samwer, the founder of Rocket Internet, a tech venture builder that has backed companies like Zalando. Although Gerhard ran several ideas by him, none of them materialized.

    However, since Oliver believed in the co-founder’s team, they ended up helping the investor build Amazon clones in Asia and Africa. Three to four months down the line, Gerhard was ready to start his own venture, and that’s when they came up with the concept of Drop Gifts.

    Using the Facebook ecosystem, Gerhard created an application to allow users to send gift cards to their friends and family. The concept was similar to FB businesses on social media and was a hit among advertisers and brands. However, the idea faced major challenges in consumer adoption.

    A Cultural Kaleidoscope at GSG

    From day one, Gerhard envisioned GSG as a melting pot, reflecting the vibrant tapestry of the world. With more than 40 nationalities shaping its DNA, the company’s cosmopolitan culture mirrors its belief in the power of diversity.

    For Gerhard, the advantage lies not only in language proficiency but in the ability to build connections and trust across cultures, fostering a global mindset that fuels innovation. He remembers navigating different bank holidays and learning how to integrate unique cultures to connect with people quickly.

    The Evolution of Global Savings Group

    The pivotal moment marked the birth of Global Savings Group (GSG). Learning from the initial setbacks, GSG morphed into a platform connecting consumers with major e-commerce players with the vision of all products being to “empower people to make smarter spending decisions so they get more out of life”.

    Commission-based and performance-driven, the company thrived by offering cashback, coupons, and deals, creating a win-win scenario for consumers and advertisers. Measured by the Gross Merchandise Volume facilitated through its different products, GSG would be among the top 10 marketplaces in Europe.

    GSG’s growth strategy extended beyond organic development, embracing mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Gerhard, emphasizing the importance of a clear playbook, has navigated seven M&A deals since 2015 worth cumulatively more than EUR +300m.

    Whether absorbing entities through cash transactions or complex mergers, each move is aimed at strategic positioning and creating synergies, underlining GSG’s commitment to long-term value creation for consumers and advertisers alike.

    Equity as a Currency of Trust

    In a world driven by vision, Gerhard views equity not just as a financial instrument but as a currency of trust. Providing equity to acquired companies, along with investors, employees, advisers, and even customers, establishes a shared vision.

    This collective ownership propels GSG toward a future where consumers find all the information they need for conscious and informed spending decisions on their platform. Gerhard and his team have successfully raised $80M in equity for the company, employ ~1000 highly talented people, and are highly profitable.

    Storytelling is everything, which is something that Gerhard Trautmann was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    GSG’s Vision: A World of Streamlined Shopping

    Gerhard envisions a future where GSG becomes the go-to platform for conscious consumers. It is a world where the exhaustive research process for purchases is streamlined, and users find all the relevant information, ensuring not just the best price but the best value for their needs.

    Reflecting on the Journey

    Looking back, Gerhard identifies multiple breakthrough moments—scaling the business, diversifying through acquisitions, and achieving a balance between top-line growth and bottom-line profitability. As GSG continues to evolve, he remains committed to proving the company’s ability to drive value across the board.

    In the tapestry of Gerhard Trautmann’s journey, GSG stands as a testament to the power of diversity, strategic innovation, and the unwavering pursuit of a shared vision. As the company continues to shape the future of e-commerce, its story becomes a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs navigating the ever-changing landscape of business.

    Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

    • The global journey underscores the power of a diverse workforce, shaping a cosmopolitan culture that drives innovation at Global Savings Group.
    • The transition from consulting to entrepreneurship highlights the importance of owning decisions and taking tangible actions, even if it means pivoting to find the right business model.
    • GSG’s commission-based model, leveraging cashback, coupons, and deals, establishes a win-win scenario for consumers and advertisers, proving the effectiveness of performance-driven strategies.
    • GSG’s strategic approach to mergers and acquisitions, guided by a clear playbook, emphasizes the creation of synergies, positioning the company strategically, and fostering long-term value.
    • Providing equity to acquired companies, investors, employees, advisers, and customers cements a shared vision, showcasing the importance of equity as a currency of trust in building a collective ownership mindset.
    • GSG’s visionary goal is to create a world where consumers find all they need on their platforms to make smarter spending decisions, streamlining the purchasing process and empowering conscious decision-making.
    • Strategic milestones include achieving a balance between top-line growth and bottom-line profitability, signaling the maturation of GSG’s business model and its ability to generate lasting value.

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    Neil Patel

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