If you want to start your own start-up, you are faced with many challenges. Because not only legal and organizational aspects must be considered: even the necessary costs keep many from the successful path to independence. At this year’s Digital Demo Day, we talked with representatives of three initiatives that offer foundations their support.
Which initiatives are that?
STARTPLATZ describes itself as a “start-up incubator and accelerator”. At the two sites in Cologne and Düsseldorf, start-ups are promoted in different ways. So they can develop their ideas and their emerging business. Rebecca Rühle from the Office & Community Management for the Dusseldorf location answered our questions.
Behind DUS + ME is the innovative innovation network of Dusseldorf and the district of Mettmann. The start-up network’s current program also offers start-ups many support and advice opportunities. We talked to Michael Seher and Martin Kretschmer.
STARTUP TEENS from Hamm especially promotes young people in the implementation of their business idea. Maurice Wirth and David Ziegler participated in this program and told us about their personal experiences.
What problems do these initiatives want to solve?
From “DUS + ME innovative” we learn that many start-ups are unsure when founding. This should be counteracted by targeted promotion and support measures.
STARTUP TEENS focuses on something a little different. “Too many people are misusing their potential because they are doing something they actually hate” explains David Ziegler. “Instead, you might want to ask yourself what you would like to change and tackle yourself” This is exactly where STARTUP TEENS comes in. Rather than starting a classical education or study, STARTUP TEENS wants to encourage young people to be their own boss. Also, to get ahead personally and find out where to go professionally.
What does the funding actually look like?
The funding programs that STARTPLATZ offers are primarily about promoting expertise. An example is the “accelerator program”. Founders get jobs at one of the locations, get connected to the existing start-up network and develop their business ideas in workshops and in collaboration with experts. Other options include renting work and conference rooms or attending events. The offer ranges from community events to start-up pitches. It is explicitly a non-financial promotion.
It is similar with “DUS + ME innovative”. The Düsseldorf-Bilk-based company offers consultancy, coaching and business plan control as part of its current program. One focus is on identifying opportunities for participation in (financial) support programs. However, it is not communicated directly: “DUS + ME innovative” is only responsible for support. It also organizes events such as the Business Angel Congress or a Life Science industry meeting.
STARTUP TEENS has the chance to win a cash prize at the end of a multi-level competition. The own idea has to be more convincing than that of the competitors. Maurice Wirth made it to the final but it was not enough for the win. The 17-year-old founder takes it sporty. “After all, although I could not take home the € 10,000, I’ve been a member of a start-up network ever since and have been able to make many contacts. That brings you personally much further”. David Ziegler adds: “STARTUP TEENS also supports the conception of an idea. This helps to actually start and make something out of an idea”.
How is the application process going?
In order to be included in the “accelerator program” of STARTPLATZ, one must first apply by mail with a description of the idea. Rebecca Rühle explains what one should pay attention to in any case: “It is important that you directly understand what the idea and the core idea is and how money should be earned. Because there is nothing worse than to read ten pages and then still not be smarter. We can only help the start-ups if we understand what they want”. Afterwards, there is an invitation to a selection interview for the most promising ideas.
Because the influx is so great, one must also apply to participate in the program of “DUS + ME innovativ. At the moment all rooms are booked out”, Michael Seher and Martin Kretschmer tell us.
STARTUP TEENS also relies on a multi-stage application process. First you sign up with a business plan, then a pitch video is uploaded online. In this video you present your idea within two minutes. In the final, you will compete with several other founders and teams for the prize money.
Are there any requirements from which industry the start-ups have to come to be funded?
In principle, founders from all areas can apply. “We even promote tuna breeders”, Michael Seher and Martin Kretschmer tell us. However, “DUS + ME innovative” is very technology-based, which is also reflected in the subsidized start-ups.
Also in STARTPLATZ it was “mostly mixed,” says Rebecca Rühle. She adds, “We have specialized in IT a bit, but this industry has changed a lot in recent years.”
Are there any costs for the start-ups?
Participation in all programs presented is free for start-ups. However, STARTPLATZ requires a rent for the use of the workplace and the rooms after completing the program. In addition, the principle of give and take applies. “You have to [as a start-up startup] bring something, so the deadlines and fulfill certain tasks. For that you get help [from us]”.
In a nutshell
So there are many companies that help startups turn their idea into a well-known company. However, many initiatives do not rely (exclusively) on financial support, but on the transfer of expertise and the formation of networks.