Tell us about yourself?
I am 32 years old, father and husband. I started Internet Marketing as a hobby in my teenage years, earned good pocket change for a young teenager back then but never really had a break through project.
I was passionate about everything related to internet marketing, like SEO, Affiliate Marketing, PPC Marketing, etc. I tried to learn as much as I could. I even studied communications & marketing in my early 20s in a university.
Before I was successful with Grailify, which started in 2016, I failed with dozens and dozens of other projects.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Many people think of startups as these magical places where people play more than they work and where the founders and employees earn millions of dollars in no time.
What is often overlooked is that most of the time a founder has failed countless times before starting a successful startup, and behind that are many days and nights of hard and sometimes lonely work.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Invest more time in trademark research! Your business can be completely destroyed overnight if bigger and more powerful players in the business take notice and you haven’t done your homework.
We made this rookie mistake, which almost destroyed our business completely.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I love to develop myself and therefore our business. Every day I try to learn new things and apply them to our business.
Giving up is not an option for me. I have already made countless mistakes and have always tried to learn from them.
I think that’s the main reason I’m currently allowed to do my dream job, which is running my own business.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I think my single best habit is that every single day I try to learn something new that I can apply to our business. Competition is massive these days.
People are extremely disciplined and ambitious, so it is necessary to stay hungry and to continuously learn new things to gain an edge over the competitors.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
In 2015, an unprecedented hype began around certain sneaker models. The hype was so massive that huge, internationally positioned online shops regularly collapsed due to the large amount of traffic that flowed onto their sites.
Sneaker fans and potential buyers were dissatisfied. At the same time, releases at smaller shops often remained undiscovered because no one organised the huge flood of releases.
Accordingly, we made it our task to develop a release calendar that bundles all sneaker releases and sneaker shops and provides the user with the most important sneaker release information.
This small project has grown into a massive community over the past few years. Our website receives more than 1 million hits per month, and our free Grailify app has been downloaded well over 3 million times.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Grailify is already a leading community in german speaking countries (where we originally come from). However there are many more countries with a huge sneakers fanbase.
We already started the expansion to UK two years ago and aim to expand to several other european countries in the next 5 years.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Many countries, e.g. in the UK, have already amazing communities.
It is difficult to establish a brand from a foreign country when other people are already delivering great value to the users. In such a situation you need to stand out with your product.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
When you start out in this field it can be difficult to establish a name for yourself. I remember that in the beginning a lot of important brands didn’t want to work with us.
And it is understandable because we really were small and couldn’t deliver significant value to partners like adidas or Nike.
However these brands are crucial if you want to establish a release calendar with all the important sneaker models. So we waited several months and tried many times to get adidas to work with us.
The day they decided to accept us as a partner, was one of the best moments in my journey as a Grailify co-founder, because that gave us the confidence that we were on the right track which was very important for us at that time.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
At this point a lot of our users find us organically. If you search for any important sneaker release, you will probalby find Grailify on the first page of Google.
Also people recommend the Grailify app to their friends a lot shortly before an important sneaker release. Of course we also run a lot of social media ads.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
It has been said countless times and it almost sounds like a clichee. But at least for me it is actually true:
Don’t ever give up. If you really are passionate about something, you simply cannot give up. It took me around ten years and dozens of failed ideas in order to find that one single idea that allowed me to live my life the way I always imagined it.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
Right now my life is exactly where I always wanted it to be – personally as well as business wise. I try to develop the business every single day to stay on top.