© Impact Hub

“Forget trends and do as you think best” – A talk with Impact Hub

Why are so many social entrepreneurs making their way to Sendling? Because it is home to a center for everyone who is involved with enterprises that focus on the common good: The Impact Hub. It is a place bursting with exciting stories and innovative ideas, so we decided to take a closer look.

Who stands behind the Impact Hub? Whom can you expect to meet there?

The Impact Hub Munich is a place where socially-oriented entrepreneurs and enterprises come together. With a team of roughly 15 people, we offer our members a professional work environment and the opportunity to become part of an exceptionally well-networked global community.

Hub-Founder Joscha Lautner und Johann Schorr (© Impact Hub)

At the hub, you meet startups in initial to post startup stages, as well as established companies, independent consultants, CSR staff, project team members and non-governmental organizations. What unites everyone is the mission to work for a better world.

Based on the individual needs of our members, they receive targeted support and consultation from both our network and our programs.

More than just a co-working space

The Impact Hub is much more than a classic co-working space; it is a network – it is its own ecosystem! It allows for an unbelievably creative exchange of knowledge and creates a space for a culture of cooperative collaboration. By providing an environment and encouragement, we are establishing a community that is open to the people who want to help shape it. The annual global member survey revealed that our members in Munich particularly value that the Impact Hub allows for participation in the greater community (80.9% satisfaction) and for co-creative collaboration with other members (86.4% satisfaction).

Our funding and advisory programs also play an important role. The aim of both is to give startups a broad and top quality offer. We are well on our way to turning our intentions into reality. One example is our cooperation with the Boston Consulting Group in our Program “Business Clinics”. BCG will be working together with four startups on specific business issues and problems over the next three months. Participating in the offer is free of charge and open to any member who has applied and been selected.

Impact Hub
One of the several meeting rooms at the Hub (© Impact Hub)

A much larger program that we are currently implementing with Munich Rückversicherung is the Fellowship Eight Billion Lives. This year-long program accompanies socially-oriented startups during their incubation period by offering custom-tailored coaching and training, the first seed funding (without equity participation), a working space and access to our global network. We are able to give them the ideal framework for getting started with their own companies. The program’s first signs of success have already become apparent. Useley, as an example, has been able to triple their orders in the last three months, while Querfeld initiated their first wholesale product and won several awards. Hawa Dawa has been receiving increased attention from the media and Seeds of Hope launched their first large project in India. We provide an environment and the necessary impetus during the process, but the startups still have to do all the work themselves.

A particular challenge: conducting socially-oriented business

To be successful, a startup needs to…

A classic startup needs to have paying customers, obtain growth capital and generate profit. The situation looks a bit different for socially-oriented startups. They have to clearly define what socially-oriented business means to them and how they plan to express that in the way they do business. This means that social startups have a combined challenge. They not only need to know how they want to make money, but also how to reconcile their objectives with their charitable character. This is certainly a bit more difficult than in other segments. However, it is still important for socially-oriented startups to be able function independently in the long run. This means that they should not permanently rely on donations. Numerous successful companies have proved that this is possible, including Kuchentratsch, Shoemates, Sichtbarmacher and Polarstern Energie.

Impact Hub
Great view (© Imapact Hub)

Why would a good startup even need a place like Impact Hub to back them?

The Impact Hub offers startups a biotope that includes support structures. What we offer is unique in Munich. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK), for example, still does not offer enough support for socially-oriented companies. However, the initial stage is of particular importance for startups. They need to be able to test their business concepts in a protected space, be inspired by others, compare notes and strengthen their skills. The Impact Hub helps these entrepreneurs show what they are really made of!

These “community norms” are also reflected in our member survey. Our members benefit from the shared collaborative values and mutual trust. Almost ¾ of the members find it easy to ask each other for help and enjoy being able to discuss new ideas with other members.

We are also able to provide an international work environment. Our members have the opportunity to work in any of our 90 hubs around the world.

What is the biggest mistake a startup can make?

Underestimating consequences when choosing a financing source. This most often determines the future development of a company from the very beginning. Going with a bank loan, for example, has completely different implications than choosing an investor.

As a startup that is roughly four years old, the Impact Hub itself is based on independent financing in the form of bank and microcredit loans. All this information can be found in our common good balance sheet.

Impact Hub Arena
Impact Hub Arena (© Impact Hub)

An additional mistake is to expect exponential growth. Reality has shown that growth is anything but an exponential process. It is important to free your mind from these kinds of expectations to allow for organic growth.

In the end, it is crucial to be able to differentiate between a genuine opportunity and just “gambling.” If you are not able to influence the situation and simply throw yourself into something just because you happen to find a few clients in that area, you might lose everything and end up empty-handed.

The trend of the year is…

… to hell with trends! Of course everyone knows that issues such as climate change, Smart Cities, refugees and food waste are important current trends. But what is more important than following trends is doing something that you feel is right and meaningful.

Secret of success: working professionally from the start

What makes the Munich startup scene so special?

(© Impact Hub)

Although Berlin is still the largest startup region in Germany, Bavaria is experiencing a true startup boom right now. One of the most important factors in Munich is working professionally from the very beginning. Bavaria is a strong region with a high level of purchasing power and expensive prices, which means that startups have to be able to keep up with the area.

Last but not least: How can startups contact you?

They can simply come to the Hub and talk with us! One option is to come by for a “sexy salad” at lunchtime on every other Thursday or to take a Hub tour. Have a look at our Homepage to find out about our events and come on by.