This week, the third round of the KIT’s own accelerator program upCAT (Startup Catalyst) started with a total of six teams. The participating teams start into the accelerator with the most diverse ideas: the topics range from energy, through education, to bio technology and outdoor products. We are happy that such a wide variety of products has reached the third program cycle. The start of upCat was on November 17th, 2014 with the kick-off week. Apart from the introduction into the program, the teams, organizers, and mentors got to know each other.
The KIT accelerator program upCAT (Startup Catalyst) is entering into its second round. On March 31st, 2014, a total of seven teams started at the kick-off of upCAT. This time, the business ideas of the participants are varied: ranging from information technology to further training and health to entertainment. We are already looking forward to the final presentation of the business ideas at the Demo Day on July 1st, 2014. Save the date! Continue reading
At the end of 2011, the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (EnTechnon) was established at KIT and Prof. Dr. Orestis Terzidis was appointed as chairholder. The goal was and is to expand research and teaching in the field of entrepreneurship. A well-founded entrepreneurship theory is also a central component in the project “KIT Founders Forge.” The teachings at EnTechnon are based on a four-stage concept:
- Awareness for the topic through informational events for the faculties,
- introduction to central concepts and facts,
- action-based learning and simulation, as well as
- support in the application.
What motivated you to participate as a speaker at the accelerator upCAT?
It fits well to my task at SAP. There, it is my job to accompany innovations from the first idea up until market adoption. Furthermore, I have also already founded a startup.
What is your field of expertise? What will prospective founders learn from you during the Focus Week?
My field of expertise is business development for new products in the B2B area. I am less acquainted with consumer goods business. I can teach founders how to commercialize innovations and about the path to market adoption.
What expectations do you have for the participants and for upCAT?
Curiosity. I am happy if the participants bring concrete questions about commercialization and the market entry of their product.
Were you already active in the field of business startups before?
Yes, I was responsible for commercialization in the “Global Business Incubator” at SAP. Before that, I had my own startup from 2002 to 2006.
Where do you see challenges on the way to becoming a successful business?
It often takes a pretty long time to get to the first paying customers. In order to pass this hard time, you need a concept.
What advice can you give to the young startup teams?
- Founders should take the B2B area into account. In my experience, chances for success are higher there. Consumer goods business is often a winner-takes- all deal and there can only be very few winners.
- Gather experience in the branch first and build up a network. You can do this, for instance, by working in a different business for two or three years after your studies.
The word “accelerator” often pops up in the founder scene. But what does “accelerator” stand for and what lies behind it?
The purpose of an accelerator for founders, as the word suggests, is to get founders to their destination faster.
There are two basic forms of accelerators. On the one hand, there are organizations or programs that have tasked themselves with supporting startups in a specific field or region. They run campaigns, competitions, mentor programs, and much more in order to promote startups, provide support with business building, build networks, and match mentors and investors with startups. The portfolio of well-known accelerators also includes offering spaces, such as co-working spaces. And example for this is the well-known German Silicon Valley Accelerator.
On the other hand, an accelerator is a coaching program within a specific timeframe for selected founding teams during an early stage. Throughout an intensive process, the founders acquire diverse knowledge, continue to develop their business model, and are often supported by an experienced mentor in doing so. Oftentimes, the teams present their output to investors at the end of the accelerator program and thus get the chance to attract funding.
The KIT Founders Forge and its partners offer a variety of forms of accelerator programs.