LehrWerk UG offers teaching materials for tinkerers in the form of construction kits for schools, educational institutions, universities, and at home. The goal of the two founders Jonas Fuchs and Benedict Jux is to make complex systems understandable in a playful manner in order to transmit technical foundational knowledge more easily and quickly. Through direct interaction by touch and connecting components, the developed construction kits create a technical understanding that is often missing when you enter a career. In an interview, we asked the team of LehrWerk about the idea, the startup time, and the future prospects.
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
The initiative for start-ups and business succession (ifex) of the Ministry of Finance and Economics Baden-Württemberg initiated the novel state-wide event format Elevator Pitch BW in 2013. Until reaching the state final, this annual series of competitions travels through several cities in Baden-Württemberg looking for the best founders in the state.
At the local pitch events, the so called regional cups, the aspiring founders can submit their business ideas and gauge themselves. Through a public online voting the ten most convincing ideas are determined – and they may make their pitch in front of a competent jury at the regional cup. The respective winners of the local pitch competitions win not only the prize money but also a place in the state final, where they can present their idea in front of a large audience again. There they have another chance to win prize money for the three best ideas. Even if it does not work out with a rank at the regional cup or the state final, all teams benefit from the media presence and the feedback within the Elevator Pitch BW.
For the regional cup Karlsruhe 2014, a total of 19 ideas were presented for the online voting. With 174 to 324 votes, ten very different ideas reached the regional cup Karlsruhe. This took place on November 18th, 2014 as part of the day of the founders and young entrepreneurs of the chamber of industry and commerce Karlsruhe. The following teams presented their ideas, in the three minute pitches, to the jury and the interested audience:
- Fibeon.de – Finanzverwaltung
- soop – the crowd solution platform
All teams confidently presented their ideas and answered the critical questions of the jury, consisting of representatives from ifex, the Karlsruhe founders’ alliance, and startup firms from Karlsruhe. The pitches from Karlsruhe and the other locations will shortly be published as videos by Elevator Pitch BW. At the regional cup Karlsruhe, three KIT teams finally managed to prevail with their business ideas and convincing pitches.
- Place: vasQlab, with miniaturized printed human organs, as “Body-on-a-chip”- system, via a 3D printing process
- Place: Key point, with flexible software for the display and ordering of figures to support project monitoring
- Place and the audience’s favorite: Lehrwerk, with construction kits that can be touched, as teaching materials for engineers and technicians
We are happy about this success and congratulate the three prize winners. We are curious how far vasQlab and Lehrwerk (with a wild card) will come in the state final in the summer of 2015!