Entrepreneur, business angel, and investor, Lukasz Gadowski (40) is one of HHL’s best-known alumnus. Setting up his first business in the university’s cellar during the semester break, he is a great inspiration for many young founders.
StudiVZ, Mister Spex, brands4friends.com, SponsorPay, HitFox Group, Käuferportal … and the list of promising start-ups Lukasz Gadowski and the company builder Team Europe has invested in is not exhaustive. But the long way to success started with Spreadshirt in 2001.
During one semester break at HHL, Gadowski took the opportunity to use the business school’s cellar for the early days of his first start-up. It nowadays is an online retail company operating all over Europe which enables customers to design and order custom clothing. In retrospect, the founder says: “Spreadshirt was something new and valuable that did not exist before but the market wanted it: single pieces, high quality, fast delivery. We used new technologies, which helped us to enable our business processes. HHL was very supportive in a natural way at that time and the business school is an encouraging environment for entrepreneurships.”
Among other mandates, nowadays Gadowski is a member of the supervisory board of Delivery Hero AG, which he co-founded in 2011. The company includes brands like Lieferheld, pizza.de or foodora and is the largest food network in the world with more than 150,000 restaurant partners and 171 million orders processed last year. Operating in more than 40 markets with above 6,000 employees plus thousands of employed drivers, it is internationally established and still growing. Even the German stock exchange has recently valued the company’s performance and decided to grade the business in a higher segment called S-Dax.
The HHL alumnus assesses the successful story of Delivery Hero rather differently from the one of Spreadshirt: “Before founding a start-up, you are normally looking for a new and disruptive business model. But with Delivery Hero, we entered an existing very large market. We saw that the old bull left a lot of value and potential they didn’t realize like online payment, transferring orders in an improved way. By chance, this was a market which was ready for a second player.” Furthermore, he emphasizes that there is one general thing that determined his success in every case: timing. Besides, he stays curious about new knowledge, new ideas and new experiences for undiscovered business models.