Matthew: Are there any unique metrics or social proof about Jimdo that you would like to share with our audience?
Christian: We have, all over the world, about 4.2 million websites, online. So, we’re doing pretty good. What’s really special is that we have 11 languages, so we really support completely 11 languages, including supporting all languages. Every newsletter is going out in every language. We have all websites; everything is translated into all those languages. So, our user base is really around the world. Actually, only 20% of our users are coming from Germany. Of course, Germany is our biggest market, but compared to that, we have started in Germany, it’s pretty small. We are very big in Japan, too. In South America, it’s growing like crazy for us and, of course, Europe. And now, we are trying to get more into the U.S. [laughs] So, that’s why we moved to San Francisco, four months ago. So, that’s the rough numbers.
Matthew: We know founders face unique challenges when they decide to launch a company. What was the hardest part about launching or starting Jimdo, and how did you overcome the obstacle?
Christian: The hardest part for us, was really like, if you start a company, you go there and you say, “OK. We need this amount of customers after six months or 12 months, otherwise it’s not working and we should not continue because there is no market or we are wrong,” something like that. Of course, in the first one, two, three years, you never hit those numbers. You’re always like… The best thing is never to give up because if we had given up, at that point, it would be sad. Do you know what I mean? So, it was really like trying, trying, trying and not giving up if something is not working out. That was very important for us.
Matthew: Lots of people admire entrepreneurs because they appear to make starting companies look easy. We know it can be really difficult. We want to dispel some myths here, so my question to you, Christian, is what talents or skills come intuitively or easily for you? What has been difficult, and how have you managed that?
Christian: I think, for us, it was always, or for me, it was always easy to do things and go forward, it doesn’t matter what it was, just to be ready to do anything that’s needed. That’s really a strength, I would say, from us three. And, think big. It’s very important that you don’t think OK, we will make this business and, hopefully, one time, we can maybe, pay something to ourselves. It was always like, OK. We want this big company. We want pages to the people all over the world and it should be the number one website builder in the world. Everyone who thinks about creating websites should think Jimdo.
If you have that vision and you really live it, then it’s way easier to just do it, instead of hearing two people, “Maybe you should go to the University, get a job.”I mean, in Germany, it’s totally different. Here in the city, everyone is like, if you say, “I work on the next big thing but I don’t have a job,” it’s like, wow, cool, and in Germany it’s like, you better get a job. You should go to the University and make something real, something you can… I don’t know how you say that. [laughs] Touch.
So, I think that’s a very important thing, to have that in mind and go forward. It doesn’t matter what the people say. In the end, you will be successful, I think, if you just try enough.
Matthew: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from Jimdo?
Christian: [laughs] First of all, of course, that you can do things, if you really want to do them, and you can achieve them, even if other people tell you it’s complicated, or it’s not possible, all that stuff and, really, to go forward, not to stop and to see it as a learning process. I think, doing this business helped me way more than any university or Stanford, or whatever, could’ve helped me, ever. I learned so many things that I would never have learned by just going somewhere and trying to learn them in theory or something like that. So, it’s really like you get the things to be like… I don’t know the word. To be stable in life. Do you know what I mean? It’s really like, that’s cool.
Of course, for me personally, it’s so important for me to work how I want to work and not work in a company where I just do something which someone tells me to do, like being able to change things, being able to make things the way you think they are right and not doing something [inaudible 05:55] and that’s very important for me, and for us, I think.
Matthew: What bit of advice do you wish you would’ve known, before launching Jimdo?
Christian: I think one important thing is to achieve saying no, sometimes. The biggest mistakes we did was like, we have this vision, building this great thing and then there came an opportunity, “Hey, we have this nice idea,” like from Company Whatever. “We will pay you $100,000 if you do that,” but it’s not your vision. It’s like something else. But you’re like, “We need this cash. If we do this for a short time, then we could go more and stronger in that direction, again,” but that never happens. It just distracts you, completely, from what you’re doing.
It’s never that you do this project for, I don’t know, four weeks and just concentrate on that and then go back and follow your vision. It’s always like… and then they disturb you all the time, basically. I think, at some points, if we would have said “No” to some opportunities or what some people were asking us for, it would be very important.
The other thing we really learned, I hope we made a very good job at that, but something I think is very important, is that you really work with the right people, that if you have someone you don’t want to work with, don’t trust, whatever, it’s simply not working out, you should say that and not be shy about that. Just say, “OK. Maybe, we’ll get there in six months,” or something like that. In our experience, most of the time, it’s not working out. So, it’s really important to have the right people on board who follow your vision, instead of working with someone and then realizing it’s not really working and then continue and hoping it’s getting better. That was important for us.
Matthew: What mentor has played a significant impact in your development?
Christian: I think, most of the times, it was us three, discussing and being good discussion partners but, of course, we are not the mentors. Our parents. Like, my mom was always like, “Oh. You should not do that. You should go to the University. It’s fun and you’re stressed. You work too much.” I was like, “Hey, mom, this is fun for me. I know you don’t understand it but it’s fun.” Even if it was sometimes annoying, I think those things really help you because with all our families and parents, we got all the time, the support that we needed, like, even if it’s only like if the business crashes, for some reason, we could go back and they won’t be…
I mean, it was not mentored. It was more this basis. Then, of course, we had a lot of people. When we were here this week, we talked to a lot of other founders. It was just inspiring but there’s no actual, like we don’t have actually one person, which helped us a lot, so it’s hard for me to say.
Matthew: What advice would you like to share with our audience about launching a startup? If you have to distill it, what are the key elements?
Christian: First of all, I think to have a clear vision of what your product or your service product, whatever, looks like and what audience you have with that, is very important. I think, maybe, it’s because we are from Germany, but I think you should really think about a market, like how you make money, but that’s very personal. I don’t like the idea of making a business but not generating revenue and just hoping that you find a way. I mean, I really appreciate what a lot of companies do in that space but, for me, it’s always like OK, at a certain point, I want to have revenue, and I want to know when I stop, where the revenue is coming from, because it’s a very good feeling if you get money from the bank and you spend that money, and at a certain point you can get the same amount of money at the bank and then you spend it. For me, it’s very important, like feeling it’s just a business, a basic thing.
And, of course, find the right co-founders. [laughs] I mean, it’s the same thing I said before but especially for co-founders. Don’t start working with someone that you’re not 100 or 200%, not like, “OK. I want to build this business and I found this guy. He or she is nice and I think it will work out.” That’s not going to work out, I think. I think that’s the number one priority.
Matthew: Before we close, I would like for you to give our audience your vision for Jimdo and how you hope it will change the world.
Christian: [laughs] I hope, really, that Jimdo will be the one place where the people know, OK, if I want to create a website very easily, like my place on the web, which I own, that they know, “Hey, there’s Jimdo and I can do it very easily. In only one hour, I can put in all my stuff. I can’t have a YouTube account, but I can put my videos on my website. I can use Flicka but, of course, I want my pictures on my web page.”: That’s, really, our vision and we want, of course, that the whole world is using it and that we get big in all countries, not only in Germany or Japan or the U.S. but really all over the planet. That’s our vision.
Matthew: It’s been a pleasure having you as a guest on FounderLY. Christian, we are rooting for your continued success at Jimdo. For those in our audience who would like to learn more, and register for a free account, and join their community, you can visit their website at www.Jimdo.com. This is Matthew Wise at FounderLY. Thanks so much, Christian.
Christian: Thanks, Matthew. It was a pleasure.