JACOB BAGER FROM CLEVERDEAL
June 30, 2021
BY Nina Lyhne
Master’s student in Business Intelligence (cand.merc.)
Partner and co-founder of the affiliate marketing company CleverDeal
Founded CleverDeal in January 2018 with his co-founder Benjamin Jørgensen
Jacob and Benjamin are worthy of the label serial entrepreneurs – they founded their first company together in 2014, and CleverDeal is number four!
HOW DID THE IDEA OF BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR ARISE?
The idea of making something useful for other people is one of the reasons why I became an entrepreneur. And not least the experience that comes with it in everything from bookkeeping and sales to procurement and customer service. The feeling of solving all the challenges that continuously arise in a startup is also very rewarding to me.
That being said, the decision to start our first company in 2014 was just as much a random decision. My partner Benjamin and I played handball together, and during our drive back and forth from training, we started talking about entrepreneurship. One day we decided to start a company – and today we are working on our fourth company together: CleverDeal.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY?
Our first company was a B2C deal site, which bought large lots and sold them cheaply. We started it during a sabbatical year after we graduated from high school. We started out by making a plan for how the company was to make money. In other words, we started with the the essential challenges: Which products should we have? How should they be sold? What should they cost? We ran the company for a year before it was sold. We applied the same process to our second and third company – one concerned with sale of skins for game consoles and the other with sale of sneakers. We always try to focus on the most essential things before we go into in a new project.
Based on our experience from the three former companies, we started our current company. Here, we were aware that running a webshop wat not what we found most interesting. That’s why we started CleverDeal, where the business model is affiliate marketing. In CleverDeal we develop price comparison pages where the products are tested, and then we forward the traffic to webshops. In this way, we strive to ensure that visitors on our pages buy the best product at the cheapest price at the best retailer.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE PROCESS?
The biggest challenge is to make the best decisions all the time. In an environment where it is necessary to be effective, important decisions are often made on a narrow foundation. For a startup, it can be the difference between success or failure. If you repeatedly make the wrong decisions, the company’s growth will stall, and there is a risk that it will have to shut down in the future.
To ensure that the right decisions are made, we involve as many people and information as the resources allow. We believe that employees with the highest level of competence in the area should contribute mostly in the decision-making process. Therefore, it is not unusual that relatively new employees get responsibility for important areas.
In addition to ensuring that we continuously make the right decisions, another challenge is to be at the forefront of the company’s life cycle. This means constantly ensuring that the necessary resources are available for going into the next phase of growth.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORKWEEK LOOK LIKE IN RELATION TO COMBINING YOUR STARTUP WITH YOUR STUDY?
Because both partners are students, we try to involve the weekends as much as possible. Otherwise, it is simply a question of planning. We both prioritize both our study and our company highly. In general, we believe that education and entrepreneurship are a suitable combination where theory and academic skills can be applied to your own business case.
HOW DO YOU USE YOUR ACADEMIC SKILLS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I do that in two ways: A direct and an indirect way.
The direct way is all the academic skills you get from courses etc., which are directly applicable in the company.
The indirect way is the discipline and structured approach to solving a task that you get at the university. I also believe that lectures, group work etc. can give rise to some thoughts that are useful for the company.
WHERE IS THE STARTUP TODAY, AND WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE?
We started in the former student incubator at Aarhus University in October 2019. Back then, it was only Benjamin and I. Today, we have 15 employees across eight countries. Our dream is to go full time after completing our studies.
YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT BECOMING ENTREPRENEURS?
My best advice is to just get started! As you start, you will experience that you are constantly innovating the idea. Suddenly, the idea you started with might be something completely different.
Also, you don’t have to have a good idea. The secret lies in the execution and in the team you set.