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#12: Christian Nagel

About 16 years ago, Christian Nagel founded Earlybird Venture Capital, one of the best known German VCs. To date, Earlybird has raised more than 700 million Euros. A world-class sailor, Christian has also seen stormy waters and managed them successfully. Among other successes, he twice won the world championship for the Swan-45 sailing class. His passion to overcome big obstacles has also helped him with his investing approach.

Christian knows the German startup landscape like few others. He and his team have invested in some of the most successful German startups, some of them yielding exits of more than 100 Million Euros. Among his best known investments, one will find auctionata, Interhyp, Number26, Smava, Tipp 24. He thus knows a great deal about startups and some of their vital success factors.

Video coming soon.

#11: Claude Ritter

Claude Ritter is the co-founder of Delivery Hero, one of the biggest food delivery companies worldwide and currently valued above 3 billion Euros. After having departed Delivery Hero in August of 2014, Claude has co-founded a new venture called Book A Tiger. Currently in its Series A, Book A Tiger is one of the leading companies in the highly sought after home market. However, Claude didn’t become an entrepreneur when he moved to Berlin. He had already spent fi years as the CEO of NetCircle, a Chinese start-up focussed on developing niche websites.

Having launched two companies of such an enormous magnitude, Claude knows how to start companies AND grow them. While both companies come from humble beginnings, there are certain strategies that Claude would employ again to secure growth and others that he wouldn’t use again.

#10: Verena Pausder

Often mentioned as one of the most influential women in the German startup scene, Verena Pausder (née Delius) is the co-founder and CEO of Fox & Sheep since 2012.

As a digital publisher focused on apps for kids, Fox & Sheep works closely with book authors and illustrators worldwide to create bestsellers such as Nighty Night and Petting Zoo!. Their dedication to create quality apps for kids and help parents guide their children through the digital world paid off: Fox & Sheep was recently acquired by traditional toy company Haba for an undisclosed sum rumoured to be in the two-digit millions.

Before joining Fox & Sheep, Verena worked for Bertelsmann and Later, she was responsible for sales at scoyo, before joining goodbeans in 2010 as CEO. She studied Business Administration at the University of St. Gallen.

#9: Jens Begemann

As co-founder and CEO of Wooga, Jens Begemann heads the blockbuster game developer responsible for hit games like Jelly Splash, Pearl’s Peril and Diamond Dash.

With around 50m active players per month, Wooga is one of the most popular mobile games developers worldwide. Jens is enthusiastic about people, play and technology – leading a talented team to develop quality games fulfills one of his lifelong ambitions.

Before founding Wooga in 2009, Jens served as Chief Product Officer & Member of the Management Board at Jamba (Jamster), where he contributed to turning the company into a world leader in mobile entertainment products.

#8: Franziska von Hardenberg

As Founder and CEO of Bloomy Days, Franziska von Hardenberg (née Scheidel) is heading a one-of-a-kind “flower delivery as subscription service” that was just awarded a seven-figure series A funding and is on the way to break-even this year. Holding profitability before scale and foregoing customer lock-in for transparent, flexible contracts with pause-or-cancel-anytime clauses, Franziska is working to build a lasting enterprise based on sane values.

Building on her experience with Bloomy Days and previous startup work within Rocket Internet (MyBrands, Zalando, 7Trends-Enamora), Franziska is a successful mentor to other founders and takes part in the government initiative “FRAUEN unternehmen”, aimed at inspiring women and girls to take up an entrepreneurial career.

#7: Jörg Rheinboldt

With over 20 years of experience, Jörg Rheinboldt is easily one of the best-known insiders of the German tech startup scene. He’s a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Denkwerk, one of the very first web agencies, as well as the eBay-acquired Alando marketplace with the Samwer brothers and Betterplace, Germany’s leading donations platform.

Jörg is active as an angel investor with M10, funding companies with a goal of long-term profitability instead of short-term exits.

As of last year, he helps mentoring and advancing new startups as CEO of the Axel Springer Plug and Play accelerator.

Throughout all of this diverse efforts, his guiding questions have remained the same: What does success look like? How do we get there?

#6: Stephan Uhrenbacher

Stephan Uhrenbacher (founder Qype & 9flats) is a serial entrepreneur and investor based in Hamburg, Germany. Stephan built Qype, Europe’s largest local review web site — first as CEO and later on its board of directors — until its acquisition by Yelp in 2012. After his time at Qype, he founded the peer-to-peer accommodation marketplace 9flats.

With more than 15 years of experience in building consumer internet companies, Stephan has experienced most ups and downs one can have with companies, investors, cofounders, and partners as well as the challenges of maintaining something resembling a balanced life at the same time — from the first site he worked on ( in 1996) and his time as COO for DocMorris (Europe’s largest mail order pharmacy) to his own ventures.

#5: Andi Thümmler

To call Andi Thümmler (Founder and CEO, Corporate Finance Partners Group) unique would be an understatement. He embodies the “work hard, party hard” better than anyone: reknown for his outrageous parties and eccentric anecdotes involving a Darth Vader costume as well as for an impressive list of deals managed by CFP, which includes most of the biggest exits in German startup history, including Brands4friends, DailyDeal, Jamba, Qype, Xing, and Zanox.

Demonstrating a taste for the finer things in life as well as unmatched business acumen, privately Andi has recently built his own whisky destillery — while CFP, now in its fifteenth year, is now expanding globally, keeping its strict focus on the tech sector and mid-size deals.

#4: Heiko Rauch

Back in 2000, at the end of the new economy era, Heiko Rauch co-founded the affiliate marketing network Zanox. Seven years later, Zanox had matured into one of the leading affiliate marketing networks in Europe and was sold to Axel Springer and the Publi Group for 214,9 million dollars — one of the biggest exits in the history of German startups.

He is an active angel investor and startup mentor, working on a wide variety of projects.

One of his current projects is UFOStart, the first “crowd investor network”. Based in Silicon Valley and Berlin, Heiko and his former founding partners of Zanox days are developing a new crowdfunding and -sourcing platform that connects startups with investors, experts and customers. Their ambitious goal is to close 10,000 startup deals over the next 3 years, accelerating these ventures with the skills of 300,000 people, and funding them for a total of $500M.

#3: Holger Weiss

Holger Weiss (CEO AUPEO!, gate5) is a serial entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience managing various tech-driven companies focusing on consumer-centric services.

He helped develop gate5, a global leader in mobile navigation software, which was acquired by Nokia in 2006.

Today, Holger is the CEO of AUPEO!.

AUPEO! is the leading provider of personalized audio streams for internet-capable hardware devices and offers radio stations that compile an individual music program for users and recommend songs to them. Part of their success is their focus on passive audio content solutions for the connected automotive market. AUPEO! was acquired by Panasonic in April 2013.

Holger is also an active business angel and startup mentor involved with companies in Germany, the UK and the US.

#2: Arndt Kwiatkowski

Back in 1996, Arndt Kwiatkowski (Founder Immobilienscout24/Founder Bettermarks) quit his job at Siemens-Nixdorf to build what would become one of the most successful German web companies — and within just a few years, ImmobilienScout24 had completely disrupted the real estate market.

Last year, a 70% stake of the Scout24 group was sold for 1,5 billion euros. It was a hard and arduous path to achieve such success, particularly in the beginning, but Arndt gathered a fantastic team to realize his idea.

Part of that founding team followed Arndt after he left Immobilienscout24 in 2008 to start his next company. Inspired by problems he had experienced in his own family, he founded Bettermarks, an online education service specialized in maths and tailored to the individual learner’s needs.

#1: Stephan Schambach

Stephan Schambach is a serial entrepreneur and e-commerce legend who built several companies in the US and Europe. Intershop and Demandware are his biggest successes to date. Demandware is the leading cloud-based e-commerce platform serving some of the biggest international brands — ranging from adidas to Lacoste and Panasonic. Demandware went public in 2012, achieving a market valuation of over 1.5 billion dollars.

Stephan was born and raised in the DDR, dropped out of college and has been self-employed ever since, focused on becoming an entrepreneur in a society that did not welcome such aspirations. He pioneered e-commerce in Germany with Intershop as early as 1992, moving on to become one of the most important figures in today’s e-commerce business.

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