Innovation is a Risks. And an adventure. Always. But in Germany people like to try to minimize this risk from the start. That can't work because Founders have to spin!


Business founders have to spin!

Who visites successfully If you want to be, you have to dare something crazy. Founders must spin! But Germany is not a place for innovative crackpots.

At least not if you have one Financing wants to get for his spinning mills. The example of Berlin shows how funding is provided in Germany: The capital is the hub of the creative scene like no other place in Germany and sees itself, as was recently read in Die Zeit, as a laboratory for a future, knowledge-based economy.

Berlin, the start-up capital?

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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 Society for economic development and location marketing, the BerlinPartner GmbH, numerous assistance from location advice to the placement of specialists and there are also various financial subsidies from the investment bank Berlin (IBB). However, power you do not hide at BerlinPartnerthat the main aim is to attract foreign investors to Berlin and Berliners Companys in Ask to support foreign trade in securing and expanding the location.

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?

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However, in Germany there is at least the opportunity to be inspired by others and to exchange ideas. For example in Internet, more precisely in 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.

Actually only logical that the idea of ​​​​entrepreneurship from the web in the so-called real Welt lifted out: At a meeting in April 2009, the idea of ​​the Twittwoch was born, its Objective it is, company whose Employees and to introduce the self-employed to social media, to learn from each other and to each other eye level exchange.

Please go to Twittwoch

Once a month, always on Wednesdays, like-minded people meet for lectures and discussions about business ideas related to the Internet. The focus is therefore on sharing Background and experience - therefore all documents, such as presentations or videos, must in principle be made public.

Initiator Stefan Wolpers runs Twittwoch from Berlin as a registered association together with the Online- Conceptioner and programmer Thomas Pfeiffer, the whole thing is financed by sponsorship money. An idea that is finding more and more supporters throughout Germany: in addition to Berlin and Munich, where Wolpers and Pfeiffer are active, there are now also twittwochs in Stuttgart, Hanover, Frankfurt, the Ruhr area, Saxony, Cologne and – a brand new addition – Düsseldorf.

Founder magazine boom

There are also numerous blogs that deal with creative ideas, Startups and innovation management - and also give the readers plenty of room to exchange ideas using the comment function.

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 go from idea to product within three months. The winners of the competition receive a three-month subscription Office in Copenhagen, something Moneyto finance the livelihood of the founding team and will be accompanied over the three months by a pool of almost 100 experienced entrepreneurs and mentors.

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 funding the program and up to € 12.000 per Team Startupbootcamp gets between 5-10% of the new company. Teams from all over the world, including Germany, can apply each year.

Incidentally, the startup boot camp uses American models: At TechStars apply For example, more than 600 teams join each year, with 8 out of 10 exiting the three-month program on “Investor Day” with an average of $500.000.

Young entrepreneur by law

In France, 2004 was for Boy Entrepreneurs of Status of the Jeune Entreprise Innovante (JEI). In order to receive it, companies must not have more than 250 employees, be no older than eight years and must 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, as JEI, they were exempted from social security contributions for scientific staff and did not have to claim any profit for three years Taxes pay and are exempt from the annual, sales tax-dependent lump sum that companies in Germany have to pay.

Germany: Casual support

In addition, property and trade tax will be waived for seven years. Other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands or Spain, Estonia or the Scandinavian countries have similar regulations or to plan their introduction. In addition, the European Commission has the status of a Young Innovative Company (YIC) in 2007.

In Germany, such rather informal subsidies are rather scarce. The number of active Business-Angels, private financiers who also support their protégés with advice and action, is estimated at 2700 to 3400 people, which is between 33 and 41 per 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 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 the Grimme Online Award and numerous project applications, it was not until 2008 that the Federal Ministry of Research and the Federal Cultural Foundation received new funding. Spielkamp sums it up: It is impossible to get follow-up funding, no matter how successful it is Projects is. And: The effort involved in submitting applications for smaller projects is too great!

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

Because it is much more worthwhile for large corporations to gradually improve what they are already selling than to develop new, revolutionary products in which the Sales strategy is unclear and, even worse, upset 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

The result is perfectionism and standstill instead of taking risks Lust of change. And a certain irony, with which one that Lachen gets stuck in the throat: Many such protective patents then lie around unused, but block further developments.

Incremental improvements are more worthwhile than major innovations. However: You could later come to the founders Capital, but to be sold 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 was the case before: Alfred Nobel, James Watt, Alessandro Volta and Werner von Siemens also belong to this group People, who made history with their ideas and who every child still knows today.

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, of all places, has developed a kind of hybrid between a bicycle and a motorcycle in Berlin: his so-called eRockit is driven by pedal strokes, which an electric motor amplifies fiftyfold - and thus more than 50 kilometers per hour fast moves. According to Gulas, the driver should be able to move, but at the same time feel the power of the engine. Fast, environmentally friendly mobility and sporting 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 just the optics, that too 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. The Bavarian counterpart not only costs more than twice as much at 60.000 euros, but is also aimed at well-heeled customers – worldwide. The Regensburger 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 must actually be met so that such crazy ideas are not only developed, but also implemented? Of course they have to Developer Be convinced of their own idea and have the will to assert yourself. But they need support, including financial support. 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 Facebookbecause Zuckerberg actually wanted to get to know girls. But open, personal interaction on the Internet is also crucial Success factor: 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 apart from Twitter and blogs, the Internet offers numerous opportunities for inspiration and exchange for crazy business ideas: For example, social networks such as Xing or Facebook, Rating portals, forums, Wikipedia and of course blogs. Anyone who regularly follows different channels, for example with an RSS reader, will quickly find that certain questions keep cropping up and 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 that deal with the Internet, Web 2.0, OpenSource, etc. - and somehow always with the question of how to make money in it to earn possible: BarCamps, for example, a kind of open conference, the procedure and contents of which are developed by the participants themselves during 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

With a similarly open atmosphere, but still an event with a full program, re:publica has blossomed into the best-known conference on Web 2.0, especially blogging, social media and the digital society. It has been held annually in Berlin since 2007. Over three days, a wide range of topics will be covered in lectures and workshops, from media and culture to politics and Technology to entertainment. All lectures will be broadcast live on the internet 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.

Openness is not as important everywhere in Germany as it is in social ones networks. Unfortunately, many founders have Anxiety before someone could steal their unfinished idea. Perhaps not entirely unfounded, but the benefits of other valuable suggestions or criticism Feedback outweigh the risk of ideas being stolen by far.

Why exchange often does not work

The exchange is therefore often limited to simply looking at what the competition is up to. For example on their website. Or in the store. Or in the press releases – all the information that light are publicly accessible.

The Problem The following is true: Good ideas, which are then also successful on the market, do not come about by simply copying other people's business concepts. Nor by trying to calculate success. But that's unfortunately more the rule in Germany than the exception, a really sad fact.

Germany - International

Starting up a business in Germany is therefore still a controversial issue. FacebookInvestor Peter Thiel even said recently: Germans are afraid of success. At least we are in the process of catching up internationally verlieren.

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

Many successful companies emerged from some crazy ideas that no one took seriously at the beginning - let's just take the most famous garage foundation in the world, Google, or Facebook, which was initially developed as a kind of dating platform. Real weirdos are rare, but necessary, because only they come up with really innovative ideas.

Alexander Käppler is one of them: The twenty-three-year-old tours the waters of Berlin with a floating snack bar, sells drinks and sausages to bathers on the banks and makes his friends happy customers with a little comedy.

Business ideas - from necessity to virtue

The idea came to him one day when he "almost dried up from thirst" on the Havel. and wished someone would come by with drinks. The idea was born, he bought the right raft cheaply, the capital came from previous jobs and the Family. And he finally overran the bureaucracy to give him the necessary permits:

“Apparently you were so surprised and probably so annoyed by me because I was very clear clear makes how important this idea is to me that everyone sat down at a table with me and considered how my dream can be realized, ”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 if the customers don't buy it after all or the competition is simply too big? Alexander Käppler knew as a potential Customer his market very well: he knew where the shortage was. A lot of good ideas come about like this: Someone recognizes where the man is needed – and tackles the problem. Unfortunately, that is all too seldom the case in this country.

Risk management instead of innovation

The best example is a book with the beautiful title “Adventure Innovation”, in which the adventure is unfortunately comparatively short. Instead of wanting to start a business creativity and developing their own ideas, the authors are primarily concerned with one thing: security 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, for example, 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 currently doing and the Industry and how profitable similar ideas are in the end.

The statistics of futurologists

Or you can obtain industry information from professional associations or chambers of industry and commerce, search the Internet for figures on economic development and market studies - or commission them yourself. If the numbers are bad, you leave it at the reasons or the Investment, at least in this industry. If the figures are good, good ideas are often simply copied – patent or not. Innovation? None!

Futurologists have long since jumped on this bandwagon and offer all sorts of statistics for good money that are supposed to predict the long-term economic development of the coming decades. On the basis of current developments, they describe social 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

But it doesn't matter which method you use to scan the market in advance: in the end, starting a business is always a risk - and often a crazy idea. Nobody can give you that decision decrease for or against. Above all, you have to be convinced of the idea yourself in order to inspire others.

And even if some founders would probably love to look at a crystal ball that prophesies 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 establish itself on the market. Polls can deceive, discussion partners theirs Opinions change and trends are short-lived, especially on the internet. In the end, you just have to try it. And stay flexible to fine-tune the idea if necessary. This is the adventure of starting a business.

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