How 23-Year-Old Markus Hetzenegger Started a Digital Company That 'Generates Nine-Figure Revenues for Customers' No one else knows what's best for you, so pave your own path.
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Markus Hetzenegger, founder and CEO of NYBA Media GmbH, a digital marketing agency. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Markus Hetzenegger: I've never been someone who does what other people tell me. I've always made my own path because I know what's best for me more than anyone else. When I was 18, I knew it was time to make a change, so I quit a "safe," esteemed dual program at BMW to fulfill my dreams.
This risk didn't work out right away. I didn't know anything about self-employment, and I didn't have entrepreneurial parents to give me advice. I became who I am today only through willpower, trial and error, continuous learning, and optimization. Now I'm a 23-year-old CEO whose company, NYBA Media, generates nine-figure returns for our customers.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Markus Hetzenegger: I understand marketing and how to convince people to buy a product and become lifelong fans. I've always been fascinated why some companies can sell T-shirts for $300 while others can't sell theirs for $20.
Over time, I've learned what works and what doesn't by continually optimizing, improving our processes, and passing on that knowledge to our customers. Speed and results are what matter most.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Markus Hetzenegger: I love creating things and being part of our customers' success. I'm always excited to see the results of our work, especially now that we can choose our clients. When it comes to selecting projects, we prefer quality over quantity. We prioritize scalable projects with a great deal of potential and the opportunity to think outside the box.
We always start by understanding our partners and their goals so we can take responsibility for their overall success. I like the challenge of marketing, optimizing, and scaling for companies from a wide range of industries. It's never boring, and there are always new things to learn, even if you think you've reached the top. In the end, we get to create more than great business partnerships — we're also building friendships.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Markus Hetzenegger: I read a great deal, but "Psycho-Cybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz has inspired me like no other book. It opened my eyes to the importance of your mind. You are the product of your imagination — using your imagination and beliefs, you can change that "product" step by step. You can change your entire life by changing your self-image because you will start thinking and acting like the person you want to become.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Markus Hetzenegger: Stick to one thing and become the best at it. I used to impatiently jump from one project to another, usually right when it was time to reap the rewards of my work. I always wanted more and was never satisfied, even when everything was going well. I was always looking for a "better" way to succeed faster. Even when my podcast became one of the top three German business podcasts a few years ago, I still wasn't satisfied.
When you work on something long enough, it can only succeed. There is no other option. So, focus on one thing you genuinely stand behind. Endurance and consistency are essential.
How do you define great leadership?
Markus Hetzenegger: Great leadership is a management style that doesn't feel like leadership. "Loving strictness" describes it best. Employees are given maximum responsibility, and the relationship is based on honesty and loyalty.
I expect absolute transparency from my team, in exchange for a great culture and above-average pay. I let everyone come up with new ideas and think outside the box, not just execute on a plan. Individual responsibilities vary according to their strengths and interests, instead of education.
I'm creating an atmosphere where everyone can grow and learn. Our hierarchy values good ideas more than your position or tenure in the company. The product doesn't make a company — the people and culture do.
How do you hire top talent?
Markus Hetzenegger: Mindset is more important than skill set. It's easier to learn a new skill than to change your mindset.
Talented employees are no longer just attracted by money — they want to be part of something bigger. The best want to work with the best. So, it's important that your company is already at a high level or at least has a bold vision. Your culture, mission, and vision are vital, so take your time investing in them. Don't just hang them on the wall. Model your workflow after them.
Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Markus Hetzenegger: I continuously reflect and optimize everything I do while focusing on my goals. I ask myself often whether what I'm doing today will bring me further tomorrow. If not, I make a change.
I try to improve a little every day. In the end, any goal is attainable if you do that. By simply learning more about something, the better your decisions will be, which will impact your outcomes.
I'm an optimistic person and believe everything that happens to you, happens for you. Trust that life is on your side, even if you can't see the positive side of a situation.
If you ever start a charity, what would it be called and what would it do?
Markus Hetzenegger: I grew up next to the ocean in a small village in the south of Spain. I spent nearly every minute by the sea, which has always been close to my heart. When I swam with a wild shark in the Bahamas a few years ago, my heart expanded to a completely different level.
Sharks have survived four of the five mass extinctions, which means they are older than humanity. But the sad fact is that they are now in danger because of us. Humans kill 100 million sharks every year to sell their fins. Sharks are the lungs of our oceans and the most important animals to our marine ecosystems. Without them, we would face a natural disaster. Something has to change. How that happens is secondary; the "why" is what matters.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Markus Hetzenegger: Meaningful work and relationships are most important to me. I want to build something big that will positively impact millions of lives. Success is only a side effect when you do what you stand for. To me, life is like a game where you can lose or win — and I like to win.
Connect with Markus Hetzenegger on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, or visit his website.
The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.