The Meeting Turbocharger

Steinbeis lends a helping hand to software start-up

Studies show that almost 50 percent of meetings are considered unproductive. The most frequently mentioned reason for this dissatisfaction: poor communication. Clearly something has to be done. And symm – systemic and systematic meeting management – can get things moving in the right direction. The key to the solution is a web-based workflow system which structures and documents the meeting process from planning to follow-up, lifting some of the burden from the shoulders of the meeting organizer. Steinbeis helped the partners who developed this product set up their own company.

The founders of symm already had a good grasp of how the world works. Michael Hundsinger is a specialist for lean, quality, and project management (PMI) and has worked as a consultant for major DAX-listed corporations. And before Hans-Martin Burr started working as a business coach and team builder, he served as editor-in-chief of several trade journals. Both men have decades of professional and management experience. But neither of them had ever founded a company. Fritz Schneider, a Steinbeis consultant specializing in setting up businesses, was at their side as they established their limited liability company.

Although Schneider helped them explore different financing models, his primary focus was on developing a business plan. Discussions about revenue and cost expectations are an important and helpful part of the process of breaking into a market – and it is useful to have an extra pair of expert eyes to look at everything. Because behind each figure, there is the question of where it comes from and what needs to be done to achieve it. There is just a short leap from a dry conversation about numbers to exciting questions of market launch strategy, marketing, and communication.

This process resulted in the decision to make project managers and project management consultants the target group of the launch. The team also came up with the idea of developing a software module especially for project status meetings. “That’s where people struggle the most,” as Michael Hundsinger knows from his many years’ experience putting out fires in large-scale projects. “Excruciatingly long meetings that don’t lead to any real conclusions, to-do’s that evaporate into thin air, and project team members who sometimes don’t even know why they’re at the meeting in the first place.” symm aims to counteract these difficulties with topic-based attendance planning at the click of a mouse, automated status queries, and follow-ups that facilitate professional topic planning. Saving time and money, better meeting results, successful communication, and motivated employees all combine to make a tangible and often decisive contribution to the success of the project, and therefore of the company. And this is precisely what the founders of symm set out to do.

The path that brought the founders to Steinbeis was unusual. Hans- Martin Burr had been on a training program in systemic team coaching offered by a Steinbeis enterprise in Stuttgart. At an event organized by the Steinbeis Foundation, he connected with Fritz Schneider and found out about his consulting services for start-ups. This is a perfect example of how the Steinbeis transfer network works – and not the only one. “The Steinbeis Network has been incredibly valuable,” says Burr, describing the significance of the contacts. “Mr. Schneider and Mr. Lauterwasser arranged for us to pitch our company to investors in Berlin – a very important experience for us.”

Shortly afterward, the contacts forged there led to a meeting with MBG Baden-Württemberg, venture capitalists based in Stuttgart. Investment manager Sascha Fritz verified the viability of the business plan – the product of much hard work – and the business model, laying the foundation for further targeted discussions should capital needs arise. And the contacts to transfer partners facilitated by Steinbeis have been just as important. As a result of this networking, symm has successfully marketed their meeting management software to two business partners. “They were so impressed by our product demonstration that they want to start using the software right away,” adds the symm team. Once again proving the effectiveness of Steinbeis.


Fritz Schneider, Ralf Lauterwasser
Steinbeis Consulting Center Business Start-Up (Stuttgart)

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