Munich Startup: What exactly does Start Munich do and who is behind it? Please introduce yourselves and your association.
Start Munich: Start Munich was founded in 2003 by Felix Haas, Sebastian Baerhold and Adrian Locher. Our top priority from the very beginning has been to bring together entrepreneurial students with diverse backgrounds and support them on their path to entrepreneurship. By making them a part of a network of enthusiastic students, we want to give our members the experience, skills and resources to found a startup – be it by finding ideas or co-founders, or through mentoring and financing.
In the last few years in particular, we’ve developed quickly. We now have more than 200 members, many of whom actively participate in the association’s activities. We’re not just a group of students, we’re a community of entrepreneurial-minded people who are helping to promote the Munich startup ecosystem on its journey to becoming a global startup hotspot.
“Our focus is on networking”
Munich Startup: The Munich universities already offer entrepreneurship initiatives for students. What gap does Startup Munich want to fill in the Munich startup ecosystem?
Start Munich: Our focus is predominantly on networking, while most other organizations focus on entrepreneurship building. We think that networking is the most important component for making it possible to found a startup.
Munich Startup: Who exactly do you want to reach with your offer?
Start Munich: Our target group is quite broadly defined. We basically want to reach entrepreneurial-minded students. Regardless of whether they have a background in tech, business or something else entirely – many fields of study are represented here. To become part of Start Munich, you don’t have to be working on the next unicorn – we look above all to see if someone has a passion for founding, initial experience in the area and that they enjoy sharing ideas with their enthusiastic comrades in arms.
Entrepreneurial spirit wanted
Munich Startup: People can apply to become members of the association. How does that work exactly and what criteria determine your decision?
Start Munich: Our application stage starts at the beginning of every semester. It starts with an application form that helps us learn a bit about the applicant and their approach to entrepreneurship. We then invite the most interesting applicants to an interview where we decide whether or not there’s a good personal match with Start Munich. Our most important criteria are an entrepreneurial spirit, potential involvement in Start Munich and previous experience in implementing one’s own ideas.
Munich Startup: What do you offer your members in concrete terms?
Start Munich: As was mentioned earlier, we focus primarily on networking. Of course everything is organized virtually at the moment, but that’s worked really well so far. In our Slack workspace, we give our members the opportunity to share ideas about various subjects, ask questions about a range of topics or get discussions going. At the same time, we offer one to two events every week where we talk about different topics. That might be Insights, where we talk with founders in smaller groups, Pitch Nights, where members present and discuss their ideas, or Reading Circles, where the focus is on knowledge transfer through interesting and undiscovered books.
Munich Startup: Do you already have some success stories?
Start Munich: Since our founding in 2003, we’ve already had several members who founded startups either during or after their time at Start Munich. Some well-known examples are Trade Republic, Bits & Pretzels, Remberg, Unu, Freeletics and IDnow. And right now, too, we have some great founders who are seeing their startups take off, such as Custom Surgical, Anybill and Munich Analytics.
Munich as the perfect breeding ground for startups
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location? What do you think is good, and what’s missing?
Start Munich: We’re delighted to see how Munich is developing as a startup location. Munich offers the perfect breeding ground for startups: universities that promote the subject to an extent that few others manage to do, companies that invest knowledge and capital in young companies, and so many amazing founders who provide inspiration each and every day. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Where we do still see potential is in the collaboration between individual players (such as universities, companies, student initiatives, accelerators, etc.). Direct interaction would provide even more opportunities for startups and get more people to found companies.
Munich Startup: Your “Road to Start Summit” is today – what exactly is going to happen and how can someone participate?
Start Munich: On Thursday, 28 January 2021, our biggest event to date will be held, the annual Road to Start Summit, which will be virtual for the first time this year. The main part of the event is the pitch competition (from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm), where six Munich startups pitch their ideas to our jury. We’re very pleased to have a jury this year that includes some of the most important players in the German startup scene: Judith Dada (La Famiglia VC), Robin Godenrath (Picus Capital), Max-Josef Meier (finn.auto, Stylight) and star investor Carsten Maschmeyer.
But the event is a whole lot more than a pitch competition: Between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm, we give participants the opportunity to talk with different Munich startups in virtual booths and discuss open job positions, especially those with a focus on students. After the pitch competition, starting around 8:30 pm, we offer the opportunity to come together and talk with startup founders and other viewers in small meeting rooms. The tickets are free and available here.