In July 2015, Marcell Jansen made headlines such as: “Former football international now selling cool walkers. Marcell Jansen has new job. Ends career at HSV aged 29 – is Marcell Jansen Germany’s cleverest professional?” News of his voluntary retirement as a professional soccer player and from such a lucrative career came as a surprise. A year later, Hamburg News met the nice sportsman and entrepreneur outside his lifestyle, health care supply store called Renovatio in downtown Hamburg. Jansen has had a share in the store. The bright shop selling modern support stockings and stylish insoles for shoes and other top-quality orthopaedic products is now the Rhinelander/Hamburg resident’s successful project.
Hamburg News: How does life as an entrepreneur feel?
Jansen: At first, it was unfamiliar. Everyone was surprised. I had the best offers and turned down contracts worth millions and a plum job. Now I can say that it definitely was the right decision. I wanted to be creative and use my mind, to learn something and live differently – more aware.
Hamburg News: We are standing here outside your lifestyle, health care product store which is about to be opened. Why are you offering brightly coloured walkers?
Jansen (laughs): We don’t have colourful walkers, but we are thinking of them – at least ones that are not degrading. We want to make that area more cheerful and remove the dull, nude-coloured stigma surrounding the products. People should say: “I need support tights – so what? Any why not in pink?” We have colourful insoles for children to prevent problems from occurring in future. Renovatio has been going very well in my hometown of Monchengladbach. The concept is suitable and now I want to bring it to Hamburg. We have just signed a lease for a second shop in Hamburg. Sport, health, fitness and nutrition are my issues.
Hamburg News: Who do you mean by us?
Jansen: The MJ associated company. We would like to merge all the associates and projects. There are three of us – a tax advisor who is also an accountant, a financial expert and I.
Hamburg News: And what are the current projects?
Jansen: At the moment, there are a few projects that we would like to take on the road, but which are not quite ready. Apart from Renovatio, we also have a stake in the Gymjunky gym-clothing label. And then there is a food start-up, which is about to launch – but not in Hamburg. We have a few other projects in the Hanseatic city. I would like to become more involved in the start-up scene in particular.
Hamburg News: Then let’s stick to that subject. You have been inundated with requests and you were a judge on the Startups@Reeperbahn 2016 Pitch and saw plenty of presentations. What are your top three tips for founders?
Jansen: I have not been doing this for too long, so I do not presume to know everything. However, it takes courage to take this step with all the consequences. You need passion, and I am talking as a footballer, and a really good team.
Hamburg News: What is the essence of a good team?
Jansen: It is important to fill all the positions properly – like those on a football pitch. Take me, for instance, I have plenty of vision and have lots of ideas unlike someone who examines, evaluates and brings along other skills and expertise. You don’t win matches with just eleven forwards.
Hamburg News: What else?
Jansen: Success and failure are like brothers and sisters. They go hand in hand. When I notice that customers are not taking to my product, then I can say: “My team and I have tried everything. But it didn’t work. So stop moaning. Wipe your mouth and come up with an idea.”
Hamburg News: What has been your “nicest” mistake?
Jansen: I’m particularly proud of my first deal. I wanted to make more original football jerseys for the European Championships in 2008 and had everything. But then, I learned the hard way that sales need a long lead-time and that I had started too late. However, I had my concept and still managed to sell quite a few jerseys – albeit in smaller numbers.
Hamburg News: You have recently downsized from a 300 square metre house on a 6,000 square metre site to a 68 square metre apartment in Winterhude. You drive a Smart car and ride a scooter. Today’s millionaires are not what they used to be.
Jansen: Smart cars and scooters in the city are more practical and effective. Entrepreneurs face different challenges, but ones that require just as much commitment. You have to use your potential to the full regardless of what you do. That’s what I learnt from my parents and I’m very glad of that lesson.
Hamburg News: Apart from your time with HSV, what do you particularly like about Hamburg?
Jansen: The city is just super – for living and working. You have to stick together – in both the bad times as well as the good.
Interview by: Karolin Köcher