“Everything started in the summer of 2013, when we wanted to go on a trip to Portugal and encountered difficulties finding a suitable holiday apartment because there were simply too many options,” Johannes Siebers explained during the KIT Entrepreneurship Talk on 11 February 2016. Together with his brother, Michael Siebers, he founded Holidu GmbH a year later – a platform for searching and comparing holiday homes in Europe.
Despite an innovative business idea, the path to independence isn’t always easy. During the beginning stage of a startup, the main focus lies on the issue of financing as well as on searching for suitable spaces for realizing this idea. The rental prices for office and laboratory spaces then turn out to be costly affairs on the free market, which makes it hard for young entrepreneurs to gain a foothold.
On 11/12/2015, the CyberChampions Award was awarded as part of the ShareBW Congress. The prize was offered to founders and young businesses from the extended TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion) in the categories “Best Concept” and “NewComer” as well as a special prize for “Innovation.” As early as October, 29 applicant teams pitched in order to be selected for one of the coveted spots in the finals. A 17-person jury, including former prize recipients as well as representatives from industry and economy, evaluated the submissions. The decisive factors for a spot in the finals were specific know-how about markets and customers, a clear positioning, and a smart strategy. Ten startup teams with roots at the KIT were selected among the 11 finalists. Continue reading
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!
Founding a company with a scientific basis is a significant challenge, be it during one’s studies or as a new graduate. Alongside learning, tests, and lectures, a business model needs to be developed, the market observed, and a finance plan created. Funding means enabling a first step in order to create the necessary breathing room for this development. However, the willingness of the employer is especially important for scientists who take this path. Continue reading