EXIST Business Start-up Grant: Three KIT teams demonstrate great potential

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) offers prospective founders a number of funding programs for implementing their startup ideas. An important instrument is the EXIST Business Start-up Grant, which supports startup projects from an early stage. The funding is directed toward students, graduates, and scientists from universities and non-university research institutions. Within one year, the teams receive the opportunity to turn their first idea into a concrete business model, including a business plan, and to receive professional assistance in doing so.

Three KIT teams didn’t miss out on this chance and applied for the grant – successfully! The founders of Aquaplot, Curafida, and Selfbits were able to gain support with their innovative and technology-oriented ideas and, thus, received the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. The KIT Innovation Department actively helped in preparing applications. The Aquaplot team develops a software as a service solution for navigating and planning routes for maritime and cargo traffic. The team of Curafida also offers a SaaS application. Their system for health services is intended to bring chronically ill patients and their medical specialist closer together and to improve the flow of information. The third team, Selfbits, is working on a cloud-based service in the field of knowledge management / knowledge acquisition.

During the course of the year-long funding period, the teams can continue advancing their startup plans. In doing so, the prospective founders are supported through seminars and coaching. The goal is to prepare them for market entry through the technical and entrepreneurial realization of the idea. The task of the founders is to improve their business plan – the final business plan is the conclusion of the grant support. We look forward to seeing the development of the three KIT teams and wish them a lot of success!

upCAT #3 – Teams pitch successfully on Demo Day

On March 10, 2015, the accelerator program “upCAT” of the KIT Founders Forge ended in applause on the final Demo Day. After twelve weeks of intensive work, the six participating teams presented their business model to an expert audience consisting of business angels, venture capitalists, and Karlsruhe network partners. Six entirely different teams participated in the upCAT #3:

  • ChromX: Software for chromatography modeling for process development and robustness studies for the biopharmaceutical industry
  • LehrWerk: Construction kits as teaching materials for prospective engineers and technicians
  • Paralution: Software and consulting to accelerate the calculation of computer-supported simulation
  • Softtop: Weatherproof covering for bicycles and e-bikes
  • Storrays: Technology for manufacturing ultra-high density peptide arrays
  • tego energy: Energy supply modules for energy harvesting

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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. Continue reading

Tag of the Month: Elevator Pitch

Whoever dares to take the step of starting their own business from a business idea often has to rely on supporters and advocates. Especially in the search for capital, one has to convince investors of the idea and business model. But how to convince major investors and multipliers of the idea?

The most important step: The potential investor needs to get to know about the idea; the founders must introduce him to their business concept. In a very brief time, the investor should understand the idea and realize the market potential. This presentation situation is known as “Elevator Pitch”: In two minutes, at the most, the prospective entrepreneurs present their business idea, waking the potential investors’ appetite for a promising investment. Here, the decisive factor is the first impression that the entrepreneur leaves with the investor. In this important moment, the founder must succeed in selling his business idea and himself as good as possible and make the investor curious. If you believe the elevator pitch, the chances for an invitation to a follow-up meeting are not bad at all. In an in-depth discussion, the comprehensive business plan can then be submitted and the business idea discussed in detail. A well-prepared pitch is therefore the “entry ticket” to key contacts and opportunities for further development.

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Tag of the Month: Social Entrepreneurship

Many people associate entrepreneurship and founding with financial success and business growth – economic company goals are paramount here. The startup scene shows that there may be other values at a founding. Social Entrepreneurship is a topic one encounters more often and so-called social startups draw attention to themselves. The focus of the founding is not profit maximization but social goals are in the forefront. Social Entrepreneurship – what is it about and what ideals lie behind it?

The term “Social Entrepreneurship” describes entrepreneurial activities in which social problems are to be solved by using a business-oriented approach. Instead of the profit concept, innovative and long-term solutions or improvement of social skills and the fulfillment of the social mission are in the foreground – so to speak, entrepreneurship for the benefit of society. The field of activity of social entrepreneurs mainly includes health, education, and environmental protection, as well as social, environmental, and corporate development.

At first glance, this model does not appear very promising. Therefore, the question is how a company works when the financial success is not one of the main objectives of the company? Social enterprises are financed, in addition to the income of the corporation, mostly through donations, grants, and funds received from the public purse. Despite the profit concept being put in the background, measurable objectives on a financial basis are relevant. Depending on the business model, one can distinguish between non-profit and for-profit companies. However, they both have the solution of social problems on a financially sustainable way in common.

The employees are also an important factor in this social corporate form. For success on a social and financial level, a high degree of commitment is necessary. In order to nevertheless create incentives for employees, social startups often provide special development opportunities for the individual employee such as space for your own projects, coaching offers, or the prospect of part-time studying.

In Karlsruhe, there are also social entrepreneurs. For example, the KIT spin-off Sunsteps.org in the field of donations. With its online platform, it enables the donations for selected projects while you shop online with their partners. Soon, you can learn even more about Sunsteps.org here. Continue reading