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Robin Haak

Hannover, 1986

Nationality: German
Alma Mater: University of Salzburg, BA Political Science, Hamburg Media School and University of Hamburg, MBA (Media Management)
Occupation: Internet Executive, serial entrepreneur, consultant and investor. Advisor to the CEO and Board Of Management of SmartRecruiters and Wo\Men Inc.
Known for: Founding member of Axel Springer Plug&Play Accelerator. Co-founder and advisor to the CEO and Board of Management at SmartRecruiters (formerly Jobspotting) and Wo\Men Inc.
Robin Eric Haak (born in Hannover in 1986 and raised there) is a German serial entrepreneur and investor. He is an investor for Haak & Compagnie with several seed investments and has worked extensively in corporate M&A at Axel Springer SE, one of Germany’s largest digital publishers. He has also worked in private equity and consultancy.

Education and Early Career

Haak was born in Hannover in 1986. He is the son of Dr. Friedhelm Haak, the former CEO of the Madsack Media Group. The Haak family owned boatyards in Carolinensiel from the 17th century and was a long-established family of captains, shipbuilders and shipwrights. He took his Abitur at the Sophienschule in Hannover before moving to Salzburg to study at the University of Salzburg for his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a Major in History. Whilst in Salzburg he was also a visiting student of Musicology at the Mozarteum University. After completing his undergraduate studies, he completed internships in consulting at Deloitte&Touche in Dusseldorf, marketing consultancy at Velvet Nation, New York and international sales at Deutsche Messe AG, Hannover. He co-founded his first startup, Esenty in 2003, with Maximilian Dubowy and Anton Rummel, who is now a partner at Global Founders Capital and the former founder of Move24. From 2006-2007, Haak was also involved in the reconstruction of the Kloster Hedersleben monastery in Hedersleben with the owner - Michael Riegler whom he met whilst studying in Salzburg. In 2009, Haak began studying for his Master of Business Administration in Media Management at the Hamburg Media School and University of Hamburg, which he was persuaded to do by the co-founder of Online Marketing Rockstars - Philipp Westermayer 1 . During his studies at the Hamburg Media School, Haak completed an internship as an assistant buyer at Versace, New York and was involved in a number of consultancy projects for high profile German clients such as: Deutsche Telekom, Bauer and Grüner und Jahr.

Axel Springer AG

In April 2012, Haak started working at Axel Springer SE as a trainee within the Electronic Media division. During this time at Axel Springer, he worked as a management trainee as an assistant to the CDO - Chief Digital Officer, Jens Müffelmann, with a focus on investment management and Mergers & Acquisitions in late-stage investments. As assistant to the CDO, he was also involved in the acquisition and portfolio management for Runtastic (since bought by Adidas), Airbnb, Totaljobs and assisted the board of subsidiary companies such as Bonial (owned by KaufDa), Awin (formerly Zanox), among others. In January 2013, Axel Springer SE and the Plug and Play Tech Center decided to found a 50/50 joint venture accelerator - the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator GmbH. Haak and his colleague Luise Gruner were the founding members and first two employees reporting to the CTO of Axel Springer SE, Dr. Ulrich Schmitz, and CEO of the Plug and Play Tech Center, Saeed Amidi. Together, Haak and Gruner sought out startups, set up a program, provided 1 "Philipp Westermeyer - OMR Festival 2018." Accessed 28 Jun. 2019. mentoring, got investors on board and invested in a total of 45 startups, including ZenMate and N26 (formerly Papaya). N26 raised a further $670 Million in July, 2019 and was named Germany’s most valuable start-up and the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator, became the bank’s first investor whilst Haak was employed there as Manager of Operations and Portfolio.


In 2014, Haak joined JobSpotting as a founder and COO (Chief Operations Officer), together with Hessam Lavi CEO, Jan Backes CDO (Chief Data Officer) and Manuel Holtz CTO (Chief Technical Officer). Lavi, Backes and Holtz are all former employees at Google who worked in the Data Quality Search Team building algorithms and they met Haak whilst he was working at the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator. After joining the JobSpotting team, Haak oversaw fundraising, marketing, finance and sales and guided the company to profitability while scaling across 12 countries and over three million users. JobSpotting, which closed down in February 2019, was a personal recommendation engine designed to help job seekers discover and track new opportunities. The platform, which was described as the “Spotify for Jobs” used data to display relevant job advertisements from across the network based on the user’s skills, work experience, and location. These job postings were drawn from more than 55 job portals like, StepStone and AngelList. If the user marked ads as irrelevant, the algorithm learned to ignore similar posts, meaning that the user only received jobs that matched their skills and experience. The JobSpotting team completed a three-month program with the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator in 2014. The first investors were the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator along with other private investors. In 2015, Horizons Ventures, a venture capital firm from Hong Kong invested in the company. Horizons Ventures has invested in companies such as Facebook, Skype, Spotify and Slack.


Once JobSpotting became profitable, and had a team of 20, Haak and Jerome Ternyck, who founded SmartRecruiters in the USA discussed the potential of bringing together the two companies and decided to merge. JobSpotting was acquired by SmartRecruiters in December 2016. Haak then joined SmartRecruiters as Vice President Global Operations alongside CEO Jerome Ternyck. Both Haak and Hessam Lavi became Managing Directors of the German GmbH (a GmbH is an abbreviation of the German phrase ‘Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung’ - or company with limited liability), in Berlin. All employees were acquired and Haak and his colleagues from JobSpotting then began working at SmartRecruiters’ European headquarters in Berlin. Founded in 2010, SmartRecruiters is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform spanning the entire recruitment process, from marketing a new position to tracking applications and making the final offer. By combining Jobspotting’s matching algorithms with SmartRecruiters' integrated recruitment software, they formed a comprehensive marketplace that meets the demands of both employers and job seekers. The San Francisco-based start-up claims some big-name clients, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Ikea, Visa, and Bosch. When JobSpotting was acquired by SmartRecruiters, JobSpotting continued to operate as an affiliate for more than 2 years while the SmartRecruiters team integrated their AI product to build two tools - SmartAssistant and SmartJobs. By December 2016, the technology that had been developed by the JobSpotting team was fully integrated into two tools, which meant that JobSpotting then ceased to exist as a company. In 2016, SmartRecruiters raised $30 million from Insight Venture Partners and the Mayfield Fund, an early investor in Lyft. This capital was used to further develop its product and global reach. In February 2019, SmartRecruiters announced 100% enterprise growth with new customers and expansions, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Bosch, Visa, Anglo American, Broadridge, Biogen and McDonald’s Canada. The company has since gone on to connect more than 50 million job seekers to jobs and as of 2019, it now has a team of 250 employees around the world. Haak led the fundraising effort in his new position as the SVP (Senior Vice President) of Global Strategy in 2019, in San Francisco, and raised a further $50M in May 2019 for SmartRecruiters in a series D round of funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from Rembrandt Venture Partners and Mayfield Fund. In May 2019, SmartRecruiters was recognized as a Leader in all three IDC MarketScapes: Worldwide and U.S. Modern Talent Acquisition Suites 2019 Vendor Assessment reports for Large Enterprises, Medium Enterprises and SMB sized companies. Haak then left the operative side of the business but kept his position as a shareholder. In March 2019, he became an Advisor to the CEO and Board of Management.

Wom/en Inc

In 2018, Haak co-founded the career platform Wo\men Inc. together with Lea Vajnorsky, whom he worked with at Axel Springer SE. Wo\Men Inc. is a for-profit inclusive platform for career- focused women from all industries that hosts invitation-only networking events around the globe and donates part of its profits to charities such as the Desert Flower Foundation, which was founded in 2002 by Waris Dirie, and others that support women in regards to education and human rights. Wo\Men Inc. was founded in 2018, by Lea Vajnorsky, who is a Venture Capitalist for venture capital firm Redstone, founded by Michael Brehm. Vajnorsky was nominated in the Forbes DACH list of 30 under 30 in July 2019 for her work as Head of Platform Development for HenkelX and co-founder of Wo\men Inc. "Wo\men Inc. focuses on both the individual events and what they offer to their visitors, the long-term exchange of members through specially curated communication channels, and social and political added value through supporting non- profit organizations," says Vajnorsky In an interview for Refinery29, Haak said he was motivated to co-found Wo\men Inc. because “the topic of diversity is very close to my heart. I have noticed that although there are a lot of platforms that are aimed specifically at women, I just haven't felt addressed by them yet, although I would also like to support them.” The difference with Wo/men Inc., is that “men and women work together for women. This means that men will also sit on our advisory board in the future. But only those who are passionate and really want to support women,” he continued. The Wo\men Inc. network is based on personal invitations from the founders and the advisory board. This includes Waris Dirie, Franziska Leonhardt, PR manager Alexandra von Rehlingen and the German politician and author Diana Kinnert . Haak says: "Personal meetings are gaining in importance in our digitized world - real meetings, real decisions and a direct impact - that's what we do with Wo\men Inc."

Advisory Roles

From March 2015 to February 2018, Haak, together with Marianne Vikkula and Nicolas Dolenc, was an Advisor to the Board of Management for Slush - the world’s largest startup conference and organized the “Nerd Bird” a new A350 Finnair plane that flew more than 100 founders from San Francisco to the Slush festival in Helsinki and back. He’s been a mentor for Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator and Seedcamp since 2013, a mentor for Microsoft Accelerator since 2015 and also for HenkelX since 2018.

Articles written by Robin Eric Haak