Dear reader of GERstartup, to give you a brief idea whom you are dealing with a quick introduction of myself (Jan Dzulko).
My first contact with the internet was actually before it officially existed. In the late 80′s I peeked over my brothers shoulder while he logged into bulletin boards using an acoustic coupler. In 1993 I got my first email account, by 1994 I had successfully used verbal Chinese torture to pressure my parents into getting internet at home – unheard of in Germany at that time. In 1994 – thanks to CompuServe Marketplace – I did my first e-commerce transaction translating letters for an American company. At the time I was 17 years old and fascinated by this new digital world.
That fascination never ceded and I went to university for Economics & IT at the University of Mannheim. Even there – with the Napster craze in full blaze – I wrote a paper on how Napster could become a profitable company using intelligent price discrimination technologies. From my university time on I knew that I one day wanted to start my own internet company. But to first get some experience I joined @McKinsey – McKinseys brief attempt to get a foothold in the internet consulting industry. There I built up the marketing department for e-fellows.net, a joint venture of McKinsey, Telekom and Holtzbrinck providing an online fellowship for top students ultimately aimed at recruiting high potentials. This all happened back in 2000 and introduced me to the budding German internet scene.
I then finished my studies at the university in Mannheim and ultimately fulfilled my dream of starting my own company: In 2003 I founded pecumax.de – a B2B-Software (now it would be called SaaS) for insurance comparison portals. We had built a software on a generic calculator which enabled us (in contrast to our competitors) to develop new insurance types very quickly. First we only sold our modules as a service, later we expanded the service vertically by adding the actual processing of the insurance contract – and subsequently founding pecupool.de as the insurance broker unit. In 2009 we had 20 employees in Berlin and had successfully outsourced much of our software development to the Philippines (Manila). At that point we provided nearly all large German internet portals with our software – when the juggernaut of German insurance portals, check24 entered the picture and made us a takeover offer we could not refuse. So in 2009 we sold our company to check24 – I agreed to integrate our system into the check24 infrastructure and became CEO of the check24 insurance business. From 2009 till end of 2011 I was CEO of check24 and saw the company grow from about 130 people to ultimately over 300 people and over 100 Million EUR revenue.
But then it was time for new ventures – my wife (still in Berlin, check24 was in Munich so I “commuted” by plane) became pregnant and I wanted to be permanently in Berlin – and I knew that it was time for something new. With Berlin posed to become the “European Valley” I could not imagine living in a better place.
My new venture will start in January 2012. I shall keep you posted about what it is. Till then I am a Business Angel for several German Startups (I shall disclaim whenever writing about them) and I shall write about the German startup scene.
Enjoy my blog, if you have any questions about German startups feel free to contact me. Or invite me to Lunch. I love free lunches.
Twitter Startupnews: GERStartup
Further reading (mostly in German!)
Wirtschaftswoche (July 7, 2014): Diese 25 Gründer sollten Sie kennen – Jan Dzulko
VC Magazin (January 8, 2014): Die Zeit der Bauchladen Inkubatoren ist vorbei – Interview mit Jan Dzulko
Manager Magazin (August 1, 2012): Gründerparadies Deutschland – Interview Jan Dzulko