Home » Hintergrund » Spark, fire, coal – factors for success with the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant

Spark, fire, coal – factors for success with the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant

Many of the founder teams of students, researchers, and / or graduates of the KIT wonder whether their ideas, their startup projects, or their research projects are suitable for an application for the EXIST Business Start-Up Grant. Directly related to this is the question of what to bring to a successful application. Below, we highlight the three main evaluation criteria – which we will discuss in detail in the founder consultation with the teams.


In the beginning, you need the spark in the team – the desire to become an entrepreneur, to start a business, and be successful in building it. This spark must be visible in the eyes of every team member. Only then does it come to the skills of the individual team members. Important is the scientific and technical know-how, business knowledge, and first entrepreneurial experience, industry knowledge, perhaps even already founding experience or proof of previous self-employed activities. Not every team member can and must meet all the requirements – nevertheless, the team as a whole should complement each other. Very important in the evaluation of the team is the connection of team members to a university or research institute by studying, doctoral studies or scientific activities there and the thus formed network of colleagues, mentors, and advisors to support the founding team.


A spark ignites the fire – the business model that will warm the company. Important for the kindling of the fire is the (technological) innovation content of the business idea in comparison with the state of the art. Is there a copy protection in the form of a property right or a research and development lead through intensive preliminary work at the university or research institution? Does the innovative product or service have knowledge based USPs? What is the strategy of the team for the unique selling point in the short, medium, and long term? Who needs the product / service – Is there a “Customer Pain”? What is the benefit to be realized by customers? To answer these questions, it is necessary to describe the product or service understandably and to plausibly represent the social added value that will be created by the company.


A good fire needs a lot of coal to burn long – In other words: “Cash is King”. Therefore, the most important thing is a working business model. This should be described as simply and understandably as possible. Then it comes to intensely analyzing the competition and presenting it in detail. The better one knows the competitors and their offers, the easier it is to evaluate their products or services and rank them in the market environment.

How big is the market? At which point is the entry to be made and which potential market entry barriers are there? Again, it is about data, data, and data. The market analysis includes answers to potential, volume, segmentation, etc. A marketing strategy and a marketing concept, possibly with distributors and multipliers, are essential. First talks with pilot customers or users – ideally with a signed “Letter of Intent” – complete the picture.

Spark, fire, coal – a first approach to a hot topic.

We invite you to develop your ideas further, in discussing with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>