Meet Our Founders #1: Ilja Leithold
What’s to do? Whats2doo! Ilja Leithold created his own peer-to-peer marketplace back in 2016 and has since then experienced incredible growth with his company Whats2doo. It offers services for day to day tasks such as dog walking or cleaning apartments. That may sound simple but it has come in handy for more than 5000 users — in Berlin alone. The company was created due to Ilja being tired of building furniture on his own during his move. He thought to himself: there must be someone in my neighborhood wanting to do this more than me. Doing something you love while getting paid? That’s how Whats2doo was born.
But who is the brain behind the business?
Ilja received his bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration at a prestigious business school in Berlin. After earning his degree, he went on to meet Hannes Rothwell, who would end up becoming the Co-Founder of Whats2doo, while working at PERM4, one of the biggest HR consulting companies worth over 100 Million Euros. Ilja, who was part of the founding team, immediately developed a friendship with Hannes, which led to them eventually founding Whats2doo together.
Something that is immediately apparent once you meet him is how focused Ilja is. Despite having many different things on his plate, he still manages to have an open ear for his colleagues and employees — while still getting his work done at the same time. Additionally to founding Whats2doo, Ilja also built his own recruiting firm that is now worth a small fortune and able to stand on its own feet without him having to interfere much. He has chosen to make Whats2doo his top priority rather than taking on too many projects at once. By the way: the Whats2doo headquarters have also already acted as an incubator since Ilja was an official “Advisor for Strategy & Sales” for the Startup Sellma which was able to have a successful exit towards the end of 2017.
Scouting out talents is just one of his many passions alongside investing and advising. Hannes and Ilja were both involved with CryptoCheck24 whose vision is to provide a one-stop information platform for all cryptocurrencies, ICOs, exchanges, wallets including reviews, recommendations and referrals. The two friends and business partners provided the basis for CryptoCheck24 but have since then handed over their responsibilities to masterminds from the insurance and affiliate marketing scene. Together with acquaintances from the world’s largest insurance broker AON, Ilja is now offering his knowledge to the company as an official advisor.
It is quite clear that he is a very busy man and there are just not enough hours in the day for him, especially considering how many projects he is simultaneously working on. Because of his busy schedule, something that comes in handy is his ability to multitask. Receiving business calls does not stop him from answering a dozen e-mails at the same time and neither does a stressful work environment distract him from getting all of his tasks done efficiently.
From an outside perspective, he may seem quite casual and laid back but once you monitor him more closely you can immediately tell that he is very hard-working, driven and extremely focused on his job. He never misses out on an opportunity to spread the idea behind Whats2doo’s business model and engage in networking events either. Something he did recently was pitch at the Open Innovation Platform which took place in Berlin’s Ministry of Economics and allowed him to introduce his company to journalists, competitors and ministry employees.
His next big project? Expanding Whats2doo to the cryptocurrency field. Ilja has been a passionate Blockchain and Bitcoin advocate since the very start and was able to get acquainted with several founders of this specific movement. Amongst others, he is in contact with both the Eternity and the Bitwala teams. Having built a well-functioning and profitable platform with Whats2doo, Ilja quickly realized that through the tokenization of the business model, he could develop clearer added value and exciting use case scenarios for Whats2doo users and international investors. It was clear from the beginning that Ilja and Hannes wanted to set up a realistic and well-founded ICO in Germany rather than dream up unattainable concepts like so many others have done in the past.
When asked about his next big projects, Ilja says: “I’m one of the top players in the German HR and Tech Startup industry and want to make Whats2doo the leading portal for all services and simple jobs. Immediately after the ICO, I want to expand our company to other major European cities and work our way up to 1 million Whats2doo users. The development team is currently working on the implementation of machine-learning-based matching algorithms and through the use of AI we want to automate further processes within the service blueprint, as well as the implementation of the tokenization of the business model.”
Ilja also has quite a few tips for success up his sleeve. Like many other founders, Ilja started his project Whats2doo with unrestrained optimism and a healthy degree of naivety. Of course, all startups experience some form of setback at the beginning and have to adjust their business model based on many iterations and learnings until a clear data-based proof of concept of the business model exists. Ilja has met hundreds of founders who gave up too early or generally did not implement a continuous iteration process. “Therefore, I recommend everyone to stay focused and to keep working hard. Especially during the first 1–2 years, because they tend to be the most difficult. From the very start, you need to have the attitude that you would rather die than shut down the company. In addition, I would recommend to enter the market as soon as possible using a simple MVP as a responsive web application and to employ good developers and team members right from the start. After all, they are the ones building the essential foundation of the company.”