Business founders have to spin!
If you want to be successful, you have to dare something crazy. Founders have to be crazy! But Germany is no place for innovative weirdos.
At least not if you want to get funding for your spinning mills. The example of Berlin shows how funding is provided in Germany: the capital is indeed the focal point of the creative scene like no other place in Germany and sees itself, as recently stated in the time, as a laboratory of a future, knowledge-based economy.
Berlin, the start-up capital?
At the same time, the city wants to establish itself as a business location with a focus on IT. At least 13 percent contributes to the economic performance of the city. In the time, however, the sociologist Ulrich Bröckling already criticized 2010 the capital very powerful:
“There is a lot of city marketing in the praise of the creative industries, especially in Berlin. It should give the capital a certain flair. ”
Promotion or cheap rents?
Presumably, the city's world-wide greatest artistic density has hitherto been due to the favorable cost of living, rather than to government subsidy programs. Because at the moment it is more likely to be used by the expensive image campaigns (Sei Berlin!) Than by innovative funding projects for garage companies.
Although the responsible company for business promotion and location marketing, the BerlinPartner GmbH, offers numerous assistance from location consulting to the placement of skilled workers and there are also various financial support from the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB). However, it does you do not hide at BerlinPartnerthat the main aim is to attract foreign investors to Berlin and to support Berlin companies in matters of foreign trade, in securing and expanding their locations.
For small garage de-tellers, who have just to go through the development phase, so rather unsuitable. When asked what minimum size a company would have to bring, BerlinPartner therefore responds only very evasively - depending on the individual case - and refers to the IBB's funding database. After all, bet
Where can founders still spin?
However, in Germany there is still the opportunity to be inspired by others and to exchange views. For example on the Internet, more specifically on the Web 2.0.
One of the best places to go: Twitter! Twitter is a water heater that absorbs and burns topics like a truck diesel. The short message service not only allows users to send messages in SMS length, but also displays which topics are currently up-to-date or which are the most forwarded tweets.
Twitter as a forum for crazy ideas
In addition, users can group thematically into their tweets with so-called hashtags. All this and many other tools provide an accurate overview of what the Twitter community is doing - and this is a trend. Even graphical surveys on the trends of the past months already exist.
It was only logical that the idea of entrepreneurship from Web was pushed into the so-called real world. In April 2009, the idea was born of the Twittwoch, whose goal is to get companies, employees and self-employed in social media learn and exchange with one another.
Please go to Twittwoch
Once a month, always on Wednesdays, like-minded people meet for lectures and discussions about business ideas relating to the Internet. The focus is therefore on sharing knowledge and experience - therefore all documents, such as presentations or videos, must in principle be made public.
Initiator Stefan Wolpers runs the Twittwoch as a registered association from Berlin, together with the online conception and programmer Thomas Pfeiffer, the whole is financed by sponsorship fees. An idea that finds more and more followers throughout the whole of the Federal Republic. In addition to Berlin and Munich, where Wolpers and Pfeiffer are active, there are also twitterndays in Stuttgart, Hanover, Frankfurt, Ruhr, Saxony, Cologne and - quite new addition - Düsseldorf.
Founder magazine boom
In addition, there are numerous blogs dealing with creative ideas, start-ups and innovation management - and also leave plenty of space for readers to exchange their comments.
The founding scene, which focuses mainly on specialist information on founders, entrepreneurs and start-ups, but also presents new ideas. Or the German start-ups, published by DS Media GmbH, with daily information from the local internet scene, which also provide numerous suggestions for innovative ideas with numerous interviews, portraits of individual start-ups and founders as well as market surveys.
How can a startup boot camp help?
The trickle of an idea is always funding: a good idea is the Startupbootcamp, a Copenhagen-based start-up program.
The idea is to help startups within three months to get from the idea to the product. The winners of the competition will receive an office in Copenhagen for three months, some money to finance the livelihood of the founding team and will be accompanied over the three months by a pool of entrepreneurs and mentors soon to be 100-skilled.
On the last day, the so-called Investor Day, the startups have the opportunity to present their company to more than 100 European investors in order to receive venture capital.
Up to 12.000 Euro per team
For the financing of the program and the up to € 12.000 per team, Startupbootcamp gets between 5-10% of the new company. Every year, teams from all over the world, including from Germany, can apply.
The startup boot camp also uses American models: For example, TechStars annually applies to more than 600 teams, of which 8 out of 10 leave the three-month program on “Investor Day” with an average of $ 500.000.
Young entrepreneur by law
In France, 2004 has been awarded the status of Jeune Entreprise Innovante (JEI) for young entrepreneurs. To obtain it, companies may not employ more than 250 employees, be no older than eight years, and spend at least 15 percent of their budget on research.
And they must not be majority owned by another company. Already in the first year almost 1800 entrepreneurs fulfilled these conditions. For this, they were exempted as JEI from the social contributions for scientific staff, did not have to pay a profit on their taxes for three years, and were exempt from the annual, turnover-tax-related lump sum that companies in Germany would have to pay.
Germany: Casual support
For seven years, the basic and trade tax will no longer apply. Other countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands or Spain, Estonia or the Scandinavian countries, are familiar with similar regulations or plan to introduce them. The European Commission also has 2007 the status of a Young Innovative Company (YIC).
In Germany, such rather casual subsidies are in short supply. The number of active business angels, private financiers who also provide their protégés with help and advice, is estimated at 2700 to 3400 persons, that is between 33 and 41 per one million inhabitants.
Other countries have more investors
For comparison: In the US, it is almost 260.000, as 850 willingly investors to one million inhabitants. And while in Germany only about 500 million euros are to be given to venture capital, there are only nine billion in Silicon Valley, which has Denmark's economic output.
But it also looks rather mauled in state subsidies: although there are innumerable funding programs, many of them often only take effect when the first successes are already on the table. Or investment loans, which are intended to cover purchases or personnel costs, but not simply the cost of life of founders in the start-up phase.
Funding: The market is unclear
In addition, despite the relevant funding databases, the offer is so confusing that the microstudent in the bureaucratic jungle can barely see what funding is appropriate for them.
Matthias Spielkamp, the journalist, has given an account of everyday promotion deliberations: he has dedicated his platform irights.info to copyright issues in the digital world. From 2004 to 2006, he was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture for several months.
Patents are not equal to innovation
Despite Grimme-Online Arward and numerous project applications, however, it was only 2008 that received new funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Culture and the Federal Cultural Foundation. Spielkamp sums up: It's impossible to get follow-up funding, no matter how successful the project is. And: The effort to submit applications for smaller projects is too big!
For Germany the motto is: Instead of innovation - make new out of old! Because Germany is in the lead when it comes to patents - but that is not particularly innovative. But even if the number of applications for patents has climbed continuously since 1990 and, according to information from the European Parliament, Germany is even the front runner, this is not necessarily related to an increase in innovation:
Old ideas in a new guise
Because many patents are, according to journalist Lars Reppesgard in his book “Wild Economy”, no guarantee for really new ideas, on the contrary:
Because the number of patent applications exceeds the costs of research and development, Reppesgard concludes that it is often only about old ideas in a new way:
World champion in efficiency optimization
After all, it would be worthwhile for large corporations to progressively make something that is already being sold better than to develop new, revolutionary products in which the sales strategy is unclear and which, even worse, confuses well-established markets.
According to Reppesgard, German companies are world champions in efficiency optimization and for years have patented even the smallest detail innovation that makes devices just a little more effective or environmentally friendly. And only to be on the safe side, in order to strengthen negotiating positions if necessary.
Perfectionism and stagnation
What emerges from this are perfectionism and stagnation instead of risk-taking and lust for change. And a certain irony in which the laughter is stuck in the throat: many such protective patents then lie unused, but block further developments.
Progressive improvements are worth more than great innovations. However: They could be sold to founders with capital, but without ideas.
In the case of revolutionary, disruptive developments, in which the inventors are fundamentally new and different, the true power of innovation lies. And Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Segej Brin and Larry Page were simply ahead.
Good ideas come from the bottom
That's how Alfred Nobel, James Watt, Alessandro Volta and Werner von Siemens belong to this series of people who have written history with their ideas and who still knows every child.
And also in the 21. Century come good, groundbreaking new developments rather of resourceful outsiders than of established enterprises. The idea that could revolutionize our road traffic:
The electric-driven two-wheeler. Until now the car was the most popular means of transport and the status symbol, this could change rapidly in times of increased traffic, climate change and fuel shortages.
Revolution for road traffic?
The Austrian Stefan Gulas has just Berlin developed a kind of hybrid between bike and motorcycle: his so-called eRockit is powered by pedaling steps, which amplifies an electric motor by fifty times - and so more than 50 km / h drives fast. The driver should, according to Gulas, move, but at the same time feel the power of the engine. Fast, environmentally friendly locomotion and physical activity in one.
The invention of the vehicle was no coincidence: Gulas had previously tried in various industries, such as an Internet job portal, until he came 2004 on the bike, developed 2005 with friends the first prototype. Since then he has been working on perfecting his so-called human hybrid motorcycle, in part with freaks from the left squatter scene, in part with specialists from the electrical, metal and vehicle industries.
eRockit vs. PG-Bike
Manuel Ostner, owner of the bike manufacturer PG-Bikes, had a similar basic idea to drive from the motorway to the pedestrian zone.
Ostner's “Blacktrail” reminds of a bicycle much more than the eRockit with its motorcycle tires: It is made of carbon and weighs just 20 kilograms, but thanks to a 120-watt electric motor it can reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. At the push of a button, it can also be converted into a normal bicycle.
What do founders need for the implementation of ideas?
Not only the look, but also the marketing strategy is very different from the E-Rockit, which is sold under the slogan “0% emission, 100% emotion” as a hip sports device made in Berlin for 25.000 euros. At 60.000 euros, the Bavarian counterpart not only costs more than twice as much, but it is precisely for this reason that it targets a well-heeled clientele - worldwide. The Regensburg man even made it to the US talker Jay Leno.
One idea, two different success stories: electric bicycles and mobility, but this is only one of many areas where new innovative ideas are created in Germany - and this country needs to stay on the ball in the long term.
The web attraction for creative spinners?
But what conditions have to be fulfilled so that such crazy ideas are not only developed, but also implemented? Of course, the developers have to be convinced of their own idea and have to bring the will to succeed. But they need funding, also of a financial nature. And they need inspiration.
Many good ideas were born in the net. Perhaps this is why the Internet exerts such immense attraction on creative spinners. And yet his possibilities are not exhausted.
We need an ongoing beta!
The fact that the Internet has such an attraction in the positive sense for creative weirdos may be due to the fact that many of the platforms used there came up as crazy ideas themselves: The Google search engine crisis, for example, because Harvard student Sergej Brin downloaded the entire Internet for a structural engineering project wanted to.
Or Facebook, because Zuckerberg actually wanted to get to know girls. But open, personal interaction on the Internet is also crucial success: Because the lively, creative exchange can help to give ideas the finishing touch. A continuous beta phase, so to speak, in which the community is involved in the development of the project.
Away from Twitter and blogs
But even apart from Twitter and blogs, the Internet offers numerous inspiration and exchange opportunities for crazy business ideas: such as social networks such as Xing or Facebook, rating portals, forums, Wikipedia and of course blogs. If you regularly follow different channels, eg with an RSS reader, you will quickly notice that certain questions keep appearing and thus a trend is emerging.
Numerous pages are very well suited for the purpose of initiating a trend discussion themselves by commentary function and carrying out smaller market surveys and thus developing them further in exchange with other own ideas. With Google, there are different keyword tools, with which one can find, as with a trend monitor, which search terms are searched most frequently.
Conferences and meetings
In addition, there are numerous conferences, meetings, conferences, Internet, Web 2.0, OpenSource etc. - and somehow always with the question how to make money in it: BarCamps, for example, a kind of open meeting, its course and content be developed by the participants themselves in the course of the conference.
In the meantime there are even very specialized barcamps like the BibCamp, which deals with the use of Web 2.0 in libraries or WordCamps, which is about Weblog software WordPress.
Barcamps and web conferences
The re: publica is the most popular conference around the Web 2.0, especially blogging, social media and the digital society. Since 2007 it has been held annually in Berlin. On three days, lectures and workshops cover various topics, from media and culture to politics and technology to entertainment. All lectures will be broadcast live as a video stream.
Yes, even journalists have recently organized their own conferences, where they, making a virtue of the predicament of the media, discussed alternative business ideas for freelance journalists on the Internet.
Fear of the ideals
Despite this overwhelming amount of possibilities, brainstorming for many founders is still quite traditional, safety-oriented - and unfortunately far too little innovative overall.
Not everywhere in Germany is openness as important as in social networks. Unfortunately, many founders are afraid that someone could steal the still unfinished idea. Perhaps not completely unfounded, but the advantages of other valuable suggestions or critical feedback to get, the risk of the ideenklaus by far.
Why exchange often does not work
The exchange is often limited to just looking at what the competition is doing. For example on their website. Or in the shop. Or in the press releases - all information that is easily accessible to the public.
The problem is that good ideas that are then successful on the market do not arise by simply copying business concepts from others. And not even by trying to calculate the success. But that is unfortunately the rule in Germany rather than the exception, a really sad fact.
Germany - International
Starting up a business in Germany is therefore still a controversial issue. Facebook investor Peter Thiel recently even said: Germans are afraid of success. At least we're about to lose touch internationally.
Mathias Keswani, founder and CEO of Nerdindustries. reported in the WundV about his visit to the technology fair CES in Las Vegas. He was impressed by the innovations shown there - and found that German companies are rather underrepresented. So he writes:
Germany doesn't cut a good figure here. Apart from the major automobile manufacturers, we are only sparsely represented with innovations ... German companies are still characterized by hierarchies and safety concerns. Experiments are lagging behind when it comes to avoiding risk.
Every spark of enthusiasm is ironed out
In fact, it is often the case in Germany: not a few carry perhaps even good business ideas with them, but they stifle them with such an attitude right back in the bud.
Anyone who dares to talk about it often has to feel like a nerd: with comments like “Such bullshit!” or "You can never do it!" every spark of enthusiasm is quickly ironed out.
Google was not taken seriously
In doing so, many successful companies have emerged from some crazy ideas that were not taken seriously at the beginning - let's just take a look at the most famous garages in the world, Google, or Facebook, which was initially developed as a kind of dating platform. Real spinners are rare, but necessary, because only they come up with truly innovative ideas.
Alexander Käppler is one of them: the twenty-three-year-old toured the waters of Berlin with a swimming snack bar, selling drinks and sausages to the bathers along the banks and making his customers happy with small comedy inlays.
Business ideas - from necessity to virtue
The idea came to him one day when he “almost dried up with thirst on the Havel!” and wished someone came over with drinks. The idea was born, he bought the right raft cheaply, the capital came from previous jobs and the family. And finally he also overwhelmed the bureaucracy to give him the necessary permits:
"Apparently you were so surprised and probably also annoyed by me, because I made it very clear how important this idea is to me, that you sat down with me and thought about how to realize my dream," says Käppler looking back today.
Founders need to know their market
Certainly, Käpplers also strongly dependent on the season dependent idea is by no means representative. The few want to build their existence on such uncertain grounds. And yet the example shows very well, which is essential for founders: one must be fully behind the own idea, in order to convince donors, business partners and customers.
And you have to know the market. After all, what use is the best idea for whom the customers do not buy or the competition is simply too big? Alexander Käppler knew his market very well as a potential customer: he knew where the shortage was. Many good ideas are created in exactly the same way: Someone recognizes where hardship is - and tackles the problem. Unfortunately, the country is rarely the case.
Risk management instead of innovation
The best example is a book with the beautiful title “Adventure Innovation”, in which the adventure unfortunately comes comparatively short. Instead of encouraging start-ups to be creative and develop their own ideas, the authors are primarily concerned with one thing: safety from all kinds of adversity.
Risk management Manfred Cassens and Wolfram Meyer call the strategy of trying to exclude the failure of a company from the outset by perfect planning. And although the reader also has many useful tips for financing and marketing an idea, the risk-avoidance strategy is a common thread throughout the book.
The title contradicts itself
For example, in the chapter on the protection of intellectual property by trademark protection, copyrights and confidentiality declarations. In the end, however, the authors have to admit, at most, a false security: for in a legal dispute it is often enough who has the longer financial breath and who is in the right.
A book that defers its own title: Instead of promoting genuine innovation and making the adventure go, the reader learns how to draw good ideas from a barbed wire, which on the other hand offers only seeming protection, but on the other hand the exchange and the Freedom, which are urgently necessary for the further development of a good idea.
Good numbers, bad numbers
This consistently serves the founding mentality prevailing in Germany: Germany is the land of perfectionists and risk avoiders; that success and innovation depend on such unpredictable factors as chance and luck is too adventurous for many. Consequently, in “Adventure Innovation” a whole chapter is headed with “Success stories are not a coincidence” - a fallacy that is certainly due to the sales figures, but that suggests that failure of ideas could be avoided with meticulous planning.
Since 2007, corporations such as GmbHs have had to publish their annual financial statements in the central company register. Potential founders can estimate how well the company is doing and the industry is doing and how profitable similar ideas are ultimately.
The statistics of futurologists
Or one obtains industry information from professional associations or chambers of industry and commerce, searches on the internet for figures on economic development and market studies - or commissions them. If the numbers are bad then you leave it alone with the reasons or the investment, at least in this industry. If the numbers are good, good ideas are often simply copied - patent or no. Innovation? Wrong!
Futurologists, too, have jumped on the bandwagon for a long time and offer all sorts of statistics for good money, which should predict the long-term economic development of the next decades. Based on today's developments, they describe societal change processes and try to analyze how the economy will evolve over the next ten years. In addition, there are also statements on the long-term major trends, so-called megatrends, which will become important in the next 40-50 years.
The look into the glass ball
That they will certainly be like that, they can not guarantee as much as a fortune teller when looking into the glass ball. What you really need to admire is the ability to capitalize on German security needs.
Statistics, figures, seeming facts, and, in their most absurd form, future research, the foundations of a mere seeming security, which in reality do not exist at all. The story is full of inventions which their contemporaries at first found absurd, but which brought it to world fame. And still more full of seemingly fierce business ideas, which nevertheless failed and have long since fallen into oblivion.
In the end there is always the risk
However, no matter which method is used to scan the market in advance: in the end, establishing a business is always a risk - and often a schnapsidee. No one can take the decision for or against. But one must be convinced, above all, of the idea, in order to inspire others as well.
And even if some founders would love to look at a glass ball that predicts the success or failure of their business idea: no study, no matter how sophisticated, can tell you whether your own business idea is really good enough to prevail on the market. Surveys can be deceiving, discussion partners change their minds, and trends - especially on the internet - are short-lived. Unfortunately you have to try it at the end. And stay flexible to readjust the idea if necessary. This is the adventure business startup.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965960015
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