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Tobias Zehnder, co-founder Webrepublic, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #150 - Tobias Zehnder: Building A Company During The Financial Crisis

Tobias Zehnder

April 22, 2021

6:18 - How Tobias got into online advertising

9:11 - Working at Google in 2007

20:31 - Launching Webrepublic in 2009

29:30 - How to assess talent

51:02 - A marketing family

About Tobias Zehnder

Tobias Zehnder is Co-Founder and Partner at Webrepublic AG, a Swiss digital marketing agency boosting your company’s online performance through meaningful business value strategies. Zehnder caught the entrepreneurial bug early on: during his student days in the 2000s, Tobias was a freelancing DJ and blogger posting reviews on his favourite records, having taught himself to monetize those endeavors. Then, in 2010, Tobias finished his MA in Socioeconomic History and Linguistics at the University of Zürich with a thesis entitled Online Advertising: the Stepchild of Media Agencies, which would later serve as a blueprint for his agency.

It was during his graduate studies that Tobias got a fantastic internship at Google Zürich as a Sales Planner and met Tom Hanan, the team's Head of Sales and his future co-founder at Webrepublic. The timing couldn’t have been better: cloud working was just starting to take off, and the office felt both small and international.

Unfortunately, the markets took a deep dive in the 2009 financial crisis, but not all was bad. In hindsight, Tobias sees many advantages in starting a business during those rough times: performance marketing was fairly new, so they could build from the ground up and still see results, and though companies were saving funds, the small demand gave customers the most cost-efficient solutions.

Twelve years down the road, Tobias admits that positioning a company in the market landscape is much more complex nowadays, but that there should always be space for integrated services and for small players to shine through. Today, Tobias also holds a position as a lecturer of Digital Leadership at HWZ Zürich, a job that helps him stay focused, inspired and on the freshest page with innovation. His main concerns include responsible leadership, conscious integrating partnerships and market evaluation with a global focus. Keep listening to learn more on building an incredible path during a major crisis!

Memorable Quotes

“Performance marketing is not something that you do in waves. It’s something that’s always on. You don’t switch it on and off. As long as there’s customer demand, you wanna be there.”

“Don’t just focus on Switzerland. Go out, really! It’s much more motivating to benchmark yourself against absolute industry leaders than to stick to local players.”


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If you would like to listen to more conversations on marketing, check out our episode with DEPT's Lukas Stuber.

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