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The 3 Key Learnings to Creating a Successful Startup

A successful company story doesn’t normally start with bankruptcy, but the AppLike Group turns out to be an exception to this rule.

Today, the AppLike Group is a thriving company builder in the app world that recently received 100 million euros from international media company Bertelsmann to build new businesses, platforms, and technologies. AppLike Group co-founder Jonas Thiemann has an interesting backstory, along with three important lessons every new startup founder should know.

Trial and Error: Learning from Your Mistakes

The AppLike Group was not the first company that Jonas Thiemann co-founded, but rather his second attempt at growing his own business. The first one didn’t quite work out because, at age 21, the young man went bankrupt after his startup coPay failed. He and his two co-founders, Carlo Szelinsky and Christoph Sachsenhausen, had to close coPay while Jonas Thiemann applied for unemployment benefits from the state.

His bad luck did not last long because, after a few weeks of contemplation, he had a chance encounter with an employee from Bertelsmann, who offered Thiemann an internship at the international media company. While the first few months at Bertelsmann were unpaid, Jonas Thiemann gained something a lot more valuable during this time: experience. Not only did Bertelsmann become a major shareholder of his new company, the Applike Group, but Thiemann also learned exactly what he needed to know to create a successful startup.

3 Lessons on Founding a Successful Startup

90% of all startups fail – and coPay was one of them. But failing didn’t deter Jonas Thiemann from trying again because it taught him what he needed to do differently. He now shares his 3 key learnings with other startup founders and those interested in creating their own businesses.

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1. Be an All-Round Talent

New companies don’t start out with a lot of staff and even if you have a co-founder – or multiple co-founders – chances are, you are going to have to do a lot by yourself. This includes organizing and managing investments, developing and creating your product, or offering your services. It also means keeping an eye on the financial and marketing side of your business to make sure everything is running as it should be.

Even if you don’t love doing all of these things, and they aren’t normally your area of expertise – creating a successful startup means that you have to be involved in all areas of your business. When you are first getting started, it is a good idea to become acquainted with all the different fields that come with owning and running a business.

Once you have established and grown your startup, you can begin to hire more staff and find the niche that you want to occupy in your company in the future. But while your startup is still in its infancy, be prepared to do every job by yourself.

2. Don’t Listen to Friends and Family

Friends, family members, acquaintances, and former classmates will all have opinions about your business idea and will probably not hesitate to voice them. Most of the time, their advice will be unhelpful. When you are starting your own business, you have to be prepared for the fact that many people will try to talk you out of it – either by saying that the idea will not work or by trying to convince you that finding employment will be the safer option. While the second may be true, it takes a little courage to jump into the unknown and fight for your idea to create your own startup.

It is very likely that you will make mistakes, especially in the early stages of running your own business. Once again, listening to your friends, family, and former classmates will probably not help you. If your social circle is there to support you during this exciting time, consider yourself lucky – but unless they have created their own business and know exactly what they are talking about, their advice will most likely not help you along with your startup.

3. Find the Right Mentor

Instead of listening to friends and family, you should try to find a mentor who has already created a successful business in the past. Of course, a mentor like this is not always easy to find, but they will be able to provide you with more insight, knowledge, and advice than any uncle or neighbor when it comes to running your business – because they have done it before, and successfully so.

On the bright side, if you do find the right mentor for your startup, they will most likely be eager to help and give advice – because they remember what it’s like when you are only starting out and know exactly what kinds of struggles you are facing. Their advice is invaluable and can help you make the right choices for your startup. Sometimes, if you are lucky, your mentor can eventually become a business partner or investor.


Creating your own startup isn’t an easy route to take – especially compared to finding a secure position at a company. There are numerous variables that either make or break a new business, and when you are first starting out, it can be difficult to determine which is which. In the case of Jonas Thiemann, however, failure was not the final stop, but rather the beginning of a long and exciting journey.

While coPay failed, the AppLike Group is now thriving and has created many remarkable companies, such as adjoe or justDice. With the recent 100 million euros boost from Bertelsmann, we can expect to see the AppLike Group do even greater things. And maybe, the advice from Jonas Thiemann will help other startup founders fulfil their potential.

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