© UnternehmerTUM international

“Think About Internationalization Early On” — A talk with UnternehmerTUM international

What should you do if you want to take a brave step into international markets as a startup? The best move: find support. For example from the UnternehmerTUM international team, that has been supporting startups since 2015 that want to tackle the internationalization of their company. Startups from abroad wanting to become familiar with the Munich ecosystem can also receive assistance from them. We spoke with Silvia Dell’Olio, Executive Director of International Affairs, to find out how it all works.

Please introduce yourself.

Our interview partner: Silvia Dell’Olio, Executive Director International Affairs (© UnternehmerTUM international)

The international team coordinates UnternehmerTUM’s international activities and is the first point of contact for international queries. We’re a team of six with a wealth of experience in strategic cooperation, international project management and international communication. Our goal is to establish UnternehmerTUM as the leading hub for startups in Europe.

How exactly do you support startups?

We offer international exchange programs for teams working in the sphere of UnternehmerTUM and for international startups, for example as a point of contact in Germany for the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program. With the EYE program, aspiring founders can go on an exchange lasting up to six months to a host company in other parts of Europe, or also to Israel, Singapur or the US. While there, they gain experience and establish contacts and receive financial support from the EU. In exchange, established startups can also temporarily host a young founder from abroad in their company, which gives them fresh input and establishes international contact.

Network with and learn from one another

With our Landing Pad Network, we offer founders an additional way to discover international markets. Our startups can use the coworking space of the partners in our global incubator network for up to four weeks free of charge and are given access to the startup ecosystem, investors, the industry network and potential business partners as a result. The same is then true for teams that come to us through our international cooperation partners: They receive a spot in UnternehmerTUM’s Open Space and are integrated into our entrepreneurial network.

With our international events, such as Entrepreneurs’ Night, which is held twice each year with approximately 200 guests, we offer startups an opportunity to network with international teams and learn from one another. Many teams use the event as a networking event to recruit international team members or to exchange information with experts from our international partner network.

In addition to the services offered by our international team, we also act as a kind of guide to help teams from abroad establish contact with the right programs at UnternehmerTUM that are of particular relevance for international participants, such as the TechFounders Accelerator, the XPreneurs Incubator or the Digital Product School. With our international website, newsletter and UnternehmerTUM’s social media channels, we also call attention to international opportunities – such as competitions, additional programs, conferences and events held by our partners. We also offer select teams the opportunity to take part in top ranking events, such as UnternehmerTUM’s startup trip to the Annual Meeting of the New Champions of the World Economic Forum in Tianjin in China.

What do you focus on when working with startups?

Most inquiries from teams with internationalization plans are very specific. That means founders have very specific ideas about which country they would like to expand to and the kind of contacts and support they need. That’s why we find it important to work with them personally and to help them advance on an individual basis while offering the most beneficial services. The next important step for us is getting feedback from the founders, for example about participation in a conference or a stay abroad that we organized: Was it worth it for the startup? What did they learn from it? What recommendations would they give other teams that are facing similar challenges in terms of internationalization? That’s the only way to improve and develop what we offer.

Another focal point for us is networking and long-term relationships with founders. It’s always so rewarding, for example, to see a former New Entrepreneur from the EYE program become a host entrepreneur after a few years and then host new founders from abroad. Or when we’re able to present a founder from a startup that has become established and active on a global scale as a keynote speaker, which makes them a role model at our Entrepreneurs’ Night.

“To be successful, a startup needs to…”

… think about internationalization early on. Even startups that initially plan to enter only the German market should have an international outlook for the medium to long-term – particularly when considering digitalization.

Trend of the year: Landing Pad

What’s the biggest mistake a startup can make?

To think beyond national boundaries too late or never at all. Then these startups run the risk of compromising their growth.

The trend of the year is…!

The Landing Pad: Many of our partners view it as a major opportunity for their startups to explore international markets, which is why they then become part of our hub network. That makes it even more attractive for our founders.

Which conditions make the Munich startup scene so special?

Its diversity, the cooperation between its players, and especially the access to industrial companies here and the increasing internationalization that we’ve noticed at our events.

Last but not least: Whom should startups contact if they would like to meet with you?

The UnternehmerTUM International Team can be reached at the general email address i@unternehmertum.de. All information about our activities can be found at https://i.unternehmertum.de/.

For those interested in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Program, Katharina Kratzer (katharina.kratzer@unternehmertum.de) is the person to contact.

Those who are interested in the Landing Pad should contact Marisa Schneider (marisa.schneider@unternehmertum.de).