Jens Urbaniak is an entrepreneur, a mentor and a pledger. He’s the Founder of DrSmile, a dental brand for modern teeth straightening, a mentor at Techstars, a startup accelerator that holds 13-week programs & a Pledger at the Founders Pledge, a global community of entrepreneurs, finding and funding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Find out how he entered the startup world and which lessons for founders he shared with us.
1. Hi Jens, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you entered the startup world?
Sure, I guess I have a truly European biography – my family is originally from Poland, my parents met at university in Germany, where I was born and raised. Later I went to boarding school and university in the UK.
I started with work experience and small entrepreneurial projects of all sorts from an early age – during holidays I was usually asked to either learn something new and invest in myself or do a summer job. Preferably I chose the former. I started my professional career in investment banking in London, then in 2012 moved on to the startup world first to Zurich and then to Berlin, and have not looked back since.
2. You’re the Founder of DrSmile, a dental brand for modern teeth straightening. You empower dentists to offer affordable and reliable orthodontic treatments. Tell us more about your mission and the idea that got it all started!
My co-founder Chris and I started “Project SuperSmile” (which later became DrSmile) in 2017 with the idea of building the most-loved consumer brand for beautiful teeth. We are not in the business of simply selling orthodontia – but helping people become confident versions of themselves. That mission still excites us today.
3. You’re a Mentor at Techstars, a startup accelerator that holds 13-week programs. Could you share the top three lessons for founders you learned over the years?
I might have one: ‘no silver bullet’ – there are no magical shortcuts, usually, success is a combination of these three broad categories when preparation meets chance:
- Hard work: ambition, determination, resilience, speed in moving forward, learning from mistakes, execution and results focus
- Intelligence: information processing, analysis, smart decisions, calculated risk, different perspectives, and experience
- Serendipity: right timing, exposure, increasing chances, and getting lucky
4. You’re also a Pledger at the Founders Pledge, a global community of entrepreneurs, finding and funding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. What is it about the startup world and entrepreneurship that particularly attracts you? How are you shaping the startup ecosystem in Berlin?
I really can’t claim that I am actively working on shaping the startup ecosystem as a whole. Generally, I gave up macro and embraced the micro. I would say that’s not just true in entrepreneurship, that is true in a lot of areas: I don’t believe in the effectiveness of abstract concepts like macro-charity. I believe in micro-charity. I don’t believe in macro thinking improving the world but micro-actions.
Thank you for sharing your story and insights with us, Jens. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.
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