Three minutes. That’s all young entrepreneurs and startups were given at the Pforzheim/North Black Forest Regional Cup of the Baden-Württemberg Elevator Pitch in April. Three minutes to convince a jury of specialists and an audience of around 100 people at Pforzheim University that their business idea was a winner. Presenters coached by Business Startup, the Steinbeis Consulting Center, received hands-on support from Ruben Maier and Markus Riehl, coasting comfortably into first and third place.
The first prize including €500 in cash was won by Thomas Link and his team for a business idea called the FTT, which is a “drivable transportation table.” The idea behind the FTT is that a self-propelled robotic table would help people with limited walking abilities to move around more easily. The FTT is a sturdy and extremely light robot mainly designed for use in the home. It can carry a load of up to 15 kilos. The innovative thing about this product is the way it combines the semi-autonomous transportation of household objects with its alternative use as an adjustable- height table with fixed legs. The FTT is equipped with various sensors spaced across its body to avoid collisions. The FTT can be rented or bought by private individuals through medical supply stores. The innovation project was supported by Steinbeis director Ruben Maier as part of a fast-track consultation lasting several days.
The winner of the third prize, and the most popular choice among the audience, was Bastian Marenbach, who used an EXI innovation voucher to obtain advice from Steinbeis director Markus Riehl on a business concept called MyTravelding. Marenbach’s idea is to redefine the future of tourism for individual travelers by connecting discoverers and people planning their adventures through an online community. This would make child’s play of planning a personal trip. The result would be a series of unique experiences that travelers would be happy to look back on. Everyone would be able to take part in this new kind of tourism. Marenbach’s tag line for his model was “Lets write stories we can’t wait to share with others!” As the winner of the audience prize, Marenbach has another chance to qualify for the 2016 State Final in Stuttgart. The finals will be contested by the winners of all 15 Regional Cups and the Baden-Württemberg winners of two Special Cups. Their task will be to pitch their business concepts in an attempt to win the title of The Best Startup in Baden-Württemberg.
The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Coaching provides companies with support and advice on the development and implementation of business strategies relating to all aspects of technology and business. The center has retained its position on two funding programs: ESF Coaching and BAFA Backing of Entrepreneurial Know-how (BAFA is the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control).
The ESF Coaching program helps companies to help themselves when it comes to managing structural change in industry and strengthening competitiveness. The focus lies in mobilizing untapped potential, entering new product, process and service fields, and introducing sustainable measures that are based on market needs and help safeguard jobs. Funding is targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises in Baden- Wurttemberg that either had sales of under €50 million in the past 12 months or recorded no more then €43 million in their previous annual accounts. The program provides pro rata subsidies for coaching costs of no more than 300 euros per day. Depending on the subject area, funding is available for a maximum of 15 days lasting 8 hours.
The following topics are eligible for funding:
Nationwide support for SMEs was reorganized earlier in the year to focus on promoting entrepreneurial know-how. The funding is intended to provide an incentive to companies to make use of the knowledge and experience of external consultants, thus meeting the growing challenge of globalization and demographic change. The funding offered through the program is aimed at new companies that have been operating for no longer than two years, companies in their third year since startup, and companies experiencing financial difficulties. Funding is provided for general consultation on all business issues such as finance, HR, and organizational issues relating to management. Specialist consulting is also available. Depending on the emphasis of the project, subsidies of up to €1,500 are offered to existing companies in Baden-Wurttemberg. New companies are entitled to up to €2,000 in backing, and companies experiencing financial difficulties can receive up to €2,700.