Oliver Samwer is one of the most controversial entrepreneurs in the digital arena. Just months after the startling IPO of Rocket Internet, Oliver Samwer and Stefan Winners (Member of the Executive Board, Hubert Burda Media) discuss global expansion, first mover advantages and quick execution, emerging markets, and their potential for digital business.
What are you most proud of in your life?, Stefan Winners started the interview. Oliver Samwer told us: "This is not my cup of tea." Only 3 things in life are important to him: family, 6-7 real friends, and the founders and companies that he supports to create (approx. 25,000 people are working in the Rocket Internet group).
What drives you? 98% of days, Samwer wake up and says: "I really love what I do."
How much do you work a week? 60 to 100 hours? Oliver Samwer don't know exactly, he don't mesure something like that. But he loves to sleep in planes especially overnight flights. It's more efficient for him.
What has changed? Since his first company Alando (Burda was the first investor) not so much has changed. It only got bigger like the DLD, and maybe some grey hairs, he smiled. One advice. Make decisions fast and go. That's what he learned and it doesn't matter who had the best idea. He just listen to the best idea. Maybe the intern is better today. Rocket Internet offers an equal structure without strong hierarchy.
How do you identify new trends and choose a direction? It's all about the input. Sometimes someone mentions a service, a special need. Sometimes you invest, sometimes not, sometimes later, sometimes you think why didn't you have invest one year ago.
What's next? As a public company being part of DAX Oliver Samwer can't talk about so much about his new sector. But there's a lot of value out there. Rocket Internet is hungry and a lot of sectors will follow. They are building, investing and acquiring.
Advice for start-ups: Don't loose your speed! But you should be able to present some numbers. Accounting is necessary, not only once a month. In the last 2 years, Rocket Internet learned the true value of accounting.
What's your goal? Rocket Internet wants to become the biggest platform outside the US and China, not an inkubator.
When will you attack the US market? Oliver Samwer smiled and answered: "We don't attack, we might friendly enter a country." They have to calculate the risk and ask themselves can we win? Chances are very low? Don't enter the market. Btw, Hello Fresh seems to be the best running Rocket Internet company in the US.
Recommendation on kununu (a German evaluation platforms for employers and employees) are really good, but the public view is totally different. Why? "We are the Westpoint of the internet." - but approx. 8,000 applications every month. Rocket Internet seems to have people who are willing to work, who wants to work, to build companies, not sitting in a comfy chair.