Munich Startup: Who are you and what does Govradar do? Please introduce yourselves!
Sascha Soyk: With Govradar, we’re developing a procurement platform for the public sector to help authorities efficiently purchase innovations in terms of resources – automatically and in compliance with public procurement law. I personally experienced the particularities of public procurement, sometimes on a very painful level, during my time in the innovation unit of a federal ministry. After that, I worked for the American software company Palantir, which is where I learned to understand the other side of the market, that of the provider. It is a real challenge for both parties, innovative tech companies and public authorities, to come together efficiently. This makes it all the more important when digitizing German authorities to intelligently link both parties with Govradar.
Daniel Schießl, our CTO, and I met through the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) here in Munich. I studied business administration at the University of Mannheim, but my brother as an alumnus sent me Daniel’s profile. He brings along exactly what we need to build a “Check24 for the public sector” in the years to come: Real developer skills, but also the ability to manage a quickly growing tech team. Daniel studied electrical and computer engineering and physics here at TU Munich and at Stanford. And we’re very proud to have gotten him on board as a co-founder of Govradar.
Explore the market, procure innovations
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Sascha Soyk: Public procurement is unfortunately still very expensive, extremely time-consuming and often not particularly innovative as a consequence. And that’s because very few startups and small companies even participate in the sector. As a market research platform, we bring both parties together with anonymity, compliance by design and automation.
Our current focus is on IT procurement for schools. Despite there being many funding programs, such as ‘Digitalpakt Schule,’ municipalities as the educational authorities are often overwhelmed by the vast array of individual needs and applications. We automate small-scale procurement so district and city employees can concentrate on more complex subjects. With our solutions, we always ensure that public procurement law is considered and factored in from the very beginning. This gives public sector representatives security in terms of the requirements that need to be complied with.
As consumers, we’re all used to “simply shopping online.” That doesn’t work in the public sector – for example, it is mandatory to always obtain a minimum of three quotations. After all, it’s tax money that’s being spent. Despite these conditions, we make sure the procurement of IT won’t take many months, and have instead set the simplicity of online stores as our benchmark. Even though it isn’t “ordered today, delivered tomorrow,” at least it’s “delivered in a few weeks.”
Govradar factors in public procurement law
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Sascha Soyk: Right, a lot of people think of Amazon or Check24. But these kinds of platforms don’t work for public authorities for various legal reasons. Govradar will be just as easy to use, but the procurement-related conditions are always factored in.
Munich Startup: What was your biggest challenge so far?
Sascha Soyk: The current situation is often brought up. But because we founded the company right before lockdown, corona or crisis-mode is actually all we know And everything still works really well. Of course making our sales pitch to customers has been delayed. Getting in contact with authorities during lockdown was a challenge in itself because they were also often at a loss and uncertain. I also try to view it all in a positive light and see an advantage in it: Corona shows that we need to do more for digitization, and that we have to whip not only administrative bodies into shape, but also institutions such as schools. We hope that investors now also see things the same way.
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Sascha Soyk: By the middle of next year, we want to have digitized as many schools as possible in Germany, which means we will have contributed to them quickly getting new hardware and software. Our focus is currently on Bavaria, but we think that we’ll be able to roll out in other federal states this year too.
In five years, our vision should slowly be becoming reality: Govradar as the leading European procurement platform for the public sector. We think digitization will be a key driver. Because it’s not only German schools that often still look like it’s 1980 – the administration sector in Europe has a whole has a lot of catching up to do!
“Administration has a lot of catching up to do”
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Sascha Soyk: We feel very much at home here! Daniel was even born in Munich and I deliberately founded Govradar here last year after having lived in the state capital since 2012. For us, the city offers an unbeatable quality of recreational options and is constantly developing as a place for startups. We’ve been up to par with Berlin for quite some time now! Munich has an established ecosystem of outstanding universities, accelerators and co-working communities and we’ve already benefited greatly from them all. Participating in the Founder Institute and being in a batch of the LMU Entrepreneurship Center have been just as helpful as the wide range of recruiting opportunities presented by TU, LMU and UniBw. And we have Wayra to thank for the best office location right on Marienplatz!
Munich Startup: Get up early in the morning or pull all-nighters?
Sascha Soyk: I have to say that opinions clearly differ in our founding team: Daniel is always up super early – I’m more suited for the night shift. But that works well. The main thing now after corona is to finally have time for after-work drinks together with the entire team!