Founders' Valley

Why Fridtjof Detzner is exploring Founders' Valley

Fridtjof "Fridel" Detzner is the host of DW's TV series Founders' Valley. With entrepreneurship baked into his DNA, we reveal why the co-founder of Jimdo joined the team - and what he does in every country he visits.

DW - Mangolia - Founder's Valley (DW/C. Meyer)

After a decade building a successful tech company, German entrepreneur Fridtjof Detzner decided it was time for a new adventure.

As the host and face of DW's new 10-part Founders' Valley TV series, Detzner will travel to eight Asian countries with a camera crew to visit entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. "The Founders' Valley project comes at the perfect time," says the 34-year-old entrepreneur, sportsman, traveler and idealist.

"It's an opportunity to do what I’m passionate about: learning about other countries, seeing different perspectives from other entrepreneurs and witnessing firsthand the progress and new technology that has occurred since I started."

Fridtjof's own entrepreneurial journey started in 2007, when he co-founded DIY website builder Jimdo. Over the subsequent decade, he has not only helped businesses and individuals around the world build over 20 million websites, but also created a company with 200 employees and offices in Hamburg, Tokyo and San Francisco.

When talking to Fridel - as he is affectionately called by many - one soon realizes that his passion for entrepreneurship extends far beyond building a product. His goal, he says, has always been creating sustainable, value-driven and inclusive company culture. This approach to entrepreneurship seems to have paid off for him, not least because it earned him a prestigious Deutscher Gründerpreis (German Founder Prize) in 2015, recognizing the innovative product and corporate culture he and his co-founders had established at Jimdo.

Like most of his peers, Fridel exhibited his entrepreneurial energy early. In fact he made his first move at the age of 16, when he taught himself how to code and created websites together with a friend - the only obstacle being that their parents had to get that first business license for them. As you can probably guess, that was the genesis of what became Jimdo eight years later.

Hamburg Startup Jimbo Fridtjof Detzner und seine Mitgründer (Jimdo)

Jimdo’s three founders: Christian Springub (left), Fridtjof Detzner (center) and Matthias Henze (right).

The first business model was building custom websites for clients. Over time, however, Fridel and his friends realized that instead of building websites for people, they could create a tool to let people build their own sites - without needing any code. That idea led to the launch of Jimdo in 2007. Bootstrapping the startup Silicon Valley-style, Fridel and Co. built the first version of the Jimdo website builder in an old barn - even a garage was too fancy.

Today, Fridel balances work with his love of sports, traveling as well as meeting and learning from entrepreneurs around the world. His passion for spending time outdoors has led him to try kitesurfing, paragliding, speed gliding, skiing and freeskiing, road and mountain biking as well as other sports that, as he says, would make his mother cringe. His trademark - doing a handstand wherever he goes - embodies Fridel's active lifestyle and his playful nature.

Similar to sports, Fridel will use Founders' Valley to challenge himself to explore what the next chapter of his life might look like.

"Founders' Valley will give me the chance to build a more complete picture of what’s going on in the world and how entrepreneurs can make a difference," Friedel says. "As an entrepreneur, I think it's important to find the right problems. This is the basis for any innovation or improvement. Through this journey, I hope to connect with new and interesting people who will open my eyes to the impact others are making across the world."

Follow Fridel's journey through Founders' Valley here:

Founders' Valley Facebook page: facebook.com/dw.foundersvalley

Jimdo blog: jimdo.com/blog

Instagram: instagram.com/fridel

Fridel's website: fridel.de

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