Centralway AG – The Company Builder*
The internationally operating company Centralway, domiciled in Zurich, has invested in or founded over 200 promising Internet enterprises since 1999 under the leadership of its founder and CEO Martin Saidler. Centralway has made waves in Internet industry from the start: by helping build the Scout24 Group from 1999 to 2002, which revolutionized the classified advertisement market in Europe, and then by building one of the largest Internet groups in Central-Eastern Europe with over 30 million users. Companies like Axel Springer, CME (Time Warner), Deutsche Telekom, Jelmoli, Daily Mail, Tamedia, and others have purchased these enterprises. The Scout holding was already sold to the Swiss firm Beisheim Holding in 2002.
Four pillar model
Centralway AG is based on four pillars that support innovative web ideas: web companies in Centralway Factory, data security and hosting in Centralway Cloud, financing in Centralway Seed, and training talent in Centralway Academy. Centralway unites the four most important factors for building a successful enterprise: the team, the technology, the idea, and the capital. Centralway has created industrialized processes for building and successfully scaling online business models.
Centralway has developed its own efficient technologies and processes for building innovative ventures. This is how it can operate “industrialized company building.” Ventures are financed solely by equity capital. Because Centralway controls the entire value chain of its portfolio companies – from the business concept to funding, from optimizing operations to exit – Centralway can minimise most risks normally associated with “early stage ventures” and at the same time increase returns (ROI).
Company Builder Centralway
Centralway is not a classic venture capital investor, but a company builder that founds and develops promising online ventures or purchases the majority of traditional enterprises and converts them into modern, competitive online enterprises, all under the motto: “We fund and build online ventures, and transform traditional companies into online companies.” As a company builder, Centralway builds online companies from scratch: business concept, team formation, creation of prototypes, market tests, legal establishment of a new company, funding, and scaling of ventures. Centralway does not build “copy cats”; it does not copy already existing business models, but develops new, innovative companies using its own ideas.
Centralway always retains control over the entire value chain from the concept to funding to a possible exit. Only entrepreneurs and highly specialized experts in the fields of software development, marketing, design, and finance work at Centralway. The core task is a strong product focus and concentration on the operative business of portfolio companies.
Centralway’s goal is above all value creation and the sustainable and successful development of its portfolio companies. The old venture building model is now being industrialized as “company building.” This means that Centralway supports its portfolio companies and newly founded companies throughout the transformation with its own in-house competence in the fields of software development, finance and accounting, research and development, design, HR, and marketing using high-grade standardized processes. This unique shared service offer allows a higher degree of professionalism to be achieved in the companies being developed.
Exit volume of more than EUR 500 million
Since 1999, Centralway has generated an exit volume of more than EUR 500 million. The holdings included Scout24, BrainsToVentures, Sandbox Network, INVIA, H1.cz, Anima Publishers, Proseller AG, Hypermedia, Jyxo, Preisinsel.ch, Blog.cz, Auto.cz, Autovia, Webnode, and many more.
In 2011, the holding and later take-over of the Swiss web agency Netvision went hand in hand with the development of the “Centralway Company Builder” and renaming as Centralway Factory AG. As part of its developed company strategy, Centralway laid the third big cornerstone in 2012 by founding the companies Centralway Factory, Centralway Seed, Centralway Cloud, and Centralway Academy. This completed the redesign of the company. Centralway’s main headquarters are in the financial centre of Zurich and employ more than 100 people. Centralway has roughly doubled its workforce in two years. The first closing of Centralway’s own EU-regulated investment fund “Incubation Capital I” took place in April 2013.
The focus of investment currently falls on the switch in the finance industry to Internet-based FinTech business models. In the field of traditional “offline enterprises,” Centralway is looking for potential acquisitions whose business model may have become obsolete but that are believed to be capable of long-term success after transformation into an “online enterprise.” Added value is created by comprehensive shared services in the fields of software development, research and development, business development, HR, and marketing and by highly standardized processes that permit industrialized venture building.
Besides experienced company founder and CEO Martin Saidler, Centralway has a five-person management team and 100 qualified web experts.