Munich Startup: What motivated you to found a company?
Ulrike Jehle: Our planning tool Goat emerged and grew within the framework of several academic projects. While testing the software with different municipalities and consultants, we received such good feedback that we decided to take our tool from academia out into the real world as a spin-off. I had always wanted to make a positive contribution to the sustainable design of our cities – and now I can do that with Goat.
Munich Startup: What do you now wish you had known before founding your first company?
Ulrike Jehle: About the many tasks coming your way. Everyone is the team is forced to become an all-rounder. Whereas I used to predominantly work on project content, I’m now in charge of a whole range of different areas, most particularly operational management.
The city of Freiburg as the first major customer
Munich Startup: How have you funded your company so far?
Ulrike Jehle: With bootstrapping, public funding and our first customers. Our biggest project at the moment is the “Goat 3.0” project, which will be funded by the innovation fund mFUND from the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) for three years. Together with well-known partners like the TUM, the MVV, the Leibnitz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development and Prof. Schaller UmweltConsult GmbH, we’re creating many new Goat functions in a co-creative development process with different municipalities, districts and regions in Germany.
We also take particular pride in our first major customer, the city of Freiburg, with whom we just recently (before our market launch) signed a contract.
Munich Startup: When and where do you have the best ideas?
Ulrike Jehle: I’m most creative when I’m in motion. For example, I often have new ideas while riding my bike, either on the way to work or back home. That makes it quite appropriate that we focus in particular on infrastructure for active mobility with Goat.
Munich Startup: What are your three favorite work tools?
Ulrike Jehle: I love all tools that make it possible to collaborate digitally. The one I use most often is MS Teams so I can communicate with others, organize pending tasks and work on documents with others. The equivalent to that in our software development is GitHub. As a third tool, I would say QGIS, which is an extremely helpful open source software program that we use to analyze spacial data.
Munich Startup: What is your top tip for pitching?
Ulrike Jehle: Practice, practice, practice.
Improving mobility over the long term out of conviction
Munich Startup: Do you think now is a good time to start a company? Why?
Ulrike Jehle: Definitely! Firstly, you can’t do much else at the moment because of corona, and, secondly, there’s a major shift happening in politics right now towards more innovation, digitization and sustainability. As a result, there are many funding programs, networks and opportunities for founders in this area.
Munich Startup: What technology or industry would you bank on when founding your next startup?
Ulrike Jehle: To be honest, I haven’t thought about my “next” startup yet. If I had to give up my current startup and start something new, however, I would probably aim to do something in the same area – out of conviction and passion to improve mobility over the long term. In terms of technology, I would definitely continue to bank on smart, digital solutions! That’s the only way we can make fact-based decisions and enable systemic change towards sustainable cities.
Munich Startup: What do you think could still use some improvement in Munich as a startup location?
Ulrike Jehle: I think what Munich and public networks like Baystartup have already gotten up and going is brilliant! Through a host of online events as well as in-person contact at startup centers like the Munich Urban Colab, which was our home for the last six months, we were able to establish a good local network and benefit from different coaching sessions. In the middle of February, we’ll be moving to WERK1, which I’m really excited about. Finding affordable office space is not that easy as a startup. Which is why I wish that we had even more affordable startup offices – perhaps even clustered based on their focus to enhance networking.
Munich Startup: What founder would you like to meet in person some day? And what would you ask them?
Ulrike Jehle: I have two. Katja Diehl of ‘She Drives Mobility’ and Raul Krauthausen, the founder of ‘Sozialhelden’. I think the amount of drive and charisma that both bring to important mobility topics is amazing. If the opportunity ever arises, I would like to discuss current technical topics, present what we do at Plan4Better and ask if they could imagine working on a joint project with us – that would really be a dream.