A young company doesn’t just need investors – it needs business partners

Zeal Investments

James Oakes

Corporate Development Director

James is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, economist, and is fascinated by all things lottery. He is the co-founder of Geonomics, a location-based lottery start-up that raised over £20m in funding and was sold to ZEAL Network in 2016. Prior to that James developed a statistical arbitrage trading system for equity derivatives and worked as an economist for a boutique London consultancy that was acquired by Experian.

James holds an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Christine Thoma

Head of Strategy

Christine leads strategy for ZEAL Investments. Historically she has led strategic initiatives for the board as well as getting her hands dirty operationally running digital marketing for ZEAL portfolio companies. Prior to ZEAL, she worked as a consultant with McKinsey and held roles in financial analysis and project management with logistics company VTG AG.

Christine holds an MSc and Master Grande Ecole in Management from ESCP Europe.

Amit Lakhani

Corporate Development Associate

Amit combines his passions for investment and finance in his analyst and deal-flow management role at ZEAL Investments. He has previously analysed investments for Thomas Miller, lead product testing at Geonomics, and streamlined operations for Arriva. Personally, he holds investments in over 10 companies and combines this experience with his analytics background to advise ZEAL portfolio companies on their data strategies.

Amit holds a BSc in Economics and Statistics from University College London.

Investment Committee

Helmut Becker

CEO of ZEAL Network

Helmut is an experienced internet executive, former strategy consultant and research physicist. He led product, marketing, sales and community for the social business network Xing. He also forged partnerships with Amiando and Kununu that led to two acquisitions. At eBay he ran the German marketing, advertising and Partnership businesses, launched shopping.com into Germany and was responsible for the eBay Germany Strategy and M&A. Before that he was a strategy consultant with McKinsey. He gained his PhD in Applied Physics from Cambridge University. He loves basketball and splits his time between London and Hamburg.

Susan Standiford

COO of ZEAL Network

Susan has had a career spanning 20 years of experience in leading software product development and information technology organisations. She has vast expertise in marketing and delivering innovative, value-based solutions in B2C and B2B businesses. Prior to joining ZEAL, she has worked as Vice President of Technology at Travelocity and Disney Online. Most recently she was the CTO of Rue La La, a leading private shopping portal in the US. Susan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jens Schumann

Jens has 20 years of experience in the internet sector. After launching his first websites while studying law and consulting other start-ups on their business-plans, he founded ZEAL Network SE in 1999, IPOed it at a valuation of € 182m in 2005 and served as CEO until leaving the company in 2009. Since then, he has supported numerous start-ups in different roles (Interim MD, non-executive director, business angel, coach).

Peter Steiner

Peter is a self-employed financial and M&A expert, German CPA and tax advisor. He chairs the Supervisory Board of ZEAL and the Audit Committee at Clariant AG. Prior to that, Peter was a Partner at JP Morgan’s Private Equity Unit and he served on the management boards of MG Technologies AG, Dyckerhoff AG and Sueba Bau AG. He studied business at the Universities of Mannheim and Cologne and finished with a Master of Business Administration (Diplom-Kaufmann).

Oliver Jaster

Oliver has 13 years’ experience as managing partner and CEO of Guenther Group, a principle investment company focussed mainly on highly regulated industries. His team has closed more than 40 transactions in Europe, America, India & Russia. Oliver started his managing role in the encryption and IT security sector being responsible for restructuring and selling OKS GmbH to Safran, a French Defence and Security Corporation (>€120m). Prior to this,  he worked in the financial industry. He holds a degree in Business Administration