After a whirlwind tour passing through Munich, England, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland, it was finally back to Glottertal, a small town in southern Germany. By all accounts, that doesn’t sound like successful first steps to independent entrepreneurship. Yet Matthias Scherzinger, born in Freiburg im Breisgau roughly 30 years ago, is here to prove the contrary. Back in his native surroundings, he gets started with his new endeavor by turning to the “Wirtschaftsförderung Region Freiburg,” an association dedicated to promoting economic growth in the greater Freiburg area. Since 2006, this association has been working with the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Establishment and Development under the directorship of Johannes Merkel.
Matthias Scherzinger learned his trade as a carpenter in the Freiburg area, where he still has access to a large network. The tri-border region offers just the right mixture of big-world connections, customers who value premium quality and are interested in true works of art, and that sense of peace and security that only feeling at home can offer. It’s the ideal place for Scherzinger to tinker and file away at the products he designs under the name of “Freudwerk” (which translates loosely to “joyful workmanship”).
The greatest challenge for young entrepreneurs is to make good use of the various options for funding and financing – options that many of the people who come to see Johannes Merkel have never heard of before their first visit. This is where the Steinbeis consultant starts off, slowly working toward a more tailored discussion about founding a business. Due to the collaboration with the Steinbeis Consulting Center, Scherzinger’s initial consultation started off free of charge and then graduated to a point where 80% of the costs were funded – all thanks to the Business Startup Certification offered through the ESF funding program. During this consultation, Merkel helped Scherzinger develop ideas related to marketing, sales and product distribution. Together they shaped the business idea by drafting a business plan complete with a realistic budget and financing plan. Product and service issues were relatively clear – Scherzinger had two innovative product concepts on the backburner since his college days.
And the highly motivated carpenter had already taken care of the necessary workshop space all on his own. He would set up his office at his parent’s house and rent the workshop from friends of the family at a very reasonable price.
After his formal training, Scherzinger acquired a lot of work experience in Germany and abroad. After studying interior design with a concentration on industrial design, he worked in Ireland as a highly paid product designer. Starting out under such favorable conditions makes the startup consultation a breeze and the first tastes of success were soon to follow: In the meantime, Scherzinger’s best products – the “tocker” (merged German words for “table” and “stool”) and the “stocker” (merged German words “chair” and “stool”) – have already been presented at several design shows and they have been entered in internationally recognized competitions where they also received awards.
The Steinbeis Consulting Center run by Johannes Merkel sees itself as a guide and source of support in the early stages of a company’s founding. The startup consultants’ expertise proves particularly beneficial with first steps – on the market and in production. It is essential for every founder to find a way to structure and plan the many tasks involved in getting set up. Merkel has plenty of experience in helping young entrepreneurs discover ways to tackle these issues. Following the advice of his Steinbeis consultant, Scherzinger also applied for “innovation vouchers” (B and C) for several of his products. He was awarded both and is thus being sponsored in his work.
And Scherzinger’s plans just keep growing. To ensure he has the financial liberty to turn his ideas into reality, the young founder turned to the Steinbeis advisor Ralf Stolarski. As a financing expert, he helped with all related processes including a credit application at the Volksbank co-operative bank. The credit is now being run through the L-Bank and a guarantor. This opens all kinds of new financing options for Scherzinger and he says one thing is certain: Coming home has really paid off!
Steinbeis Consulting Center for Startups (Stuttgart) Donaueschingen office