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Techniker Krankenkasse: “We Want to Support and Complement Founders”

For almost every startup, there comes a day when they’re no longer just the founding team. And while the onboarding of their first employees is likely to be a reason to celebrate for many, it also changes a lot. Because suddenly you’re no longer just a founder, but also a boss. In our interview, Johannes Kohl from Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) explains what that implicates and how TK can give startups a hand.

Munich Startup: Hiring the first employee is likely to be a milestone for the vast majority of founders. But it’s also a bureaucratic act. What exactly does it entail? 

Johannes Kohl, Techniker Krankenkasse: It’s certainly quite a complex issue, because the employer has to check whether or not social security is compulsory for the specific type of employment. It might sound trivial at first, but it can be very complex when you consider that you have working students, interns, part-time or full-time employees and even the employment of pensioners or skilled workers from abroad. You could contact a tax consultant, but they will certainly charge money. What you can also do is simply contact a TK startup specialist or our colleagues in the Socialpizza team. This will give you legal certainty and doesn’t lead to any costs. As a small tip, I can recommend the software sv.net. The standard version can be used free of charge and enables the mandatory electronic and encrypted reporting for social security. 

Munich Startup: And what role do health insurance companies play? 

Johannes Kohl: Health insurance companies play a key role in the social security system, because all of the social insurance contributions are paid to them and the health insurance company then distributes them to the individual institutions (pension insurance, unemployment insurance, nursing care insurance). As a result, a privately insured person (such as a managing director) may still have to pay contributions (such as pension insurance contributions) to the statutory health insurance system. 

We can also provide support, for example when it comes to finding out about the implementations of different types of employment – in other words, whether or not a specific type of employment requires compulsory social security. This will help me report correctly on the one hand and to pay the right contributions on time to social security partners on the other hand. In addition, it will have me well prepared should my company undergo a social security audit, and that’s something everyone deals with sooner or later. 

“We can give startups exactly the help they currently need” 

Munich Startup: Is that your first point of contact with a startup? 

Johannes Kohl: Often. But we can also establish contact earlier on, for example before or during their founding, because this usually leads to changes in the social insurance status of the founders themselves. For people who are self-employed, the question might come up as to whether private or statutory health insurance is the better choice. The answer to this question requires careful thought, because the decision here can be irreversible. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer in this case, but rather one that fits or does not fit the person concerned and their plans for life. It depends on the situation and should therefore always be considered on an individual basis. 

The nice thing is that we can give startups exactly the help they currently need. Some come to us with questions about maintaining the health of their employees, others when they want to hire skilled workers from abroad, others when they have issues regarding the onboarding of new employees or because they want to cut costs. And what’s great is that we can help everyone and make their lives easier. 

Munich Startup: What questions do founders ask you most often? 

Johannes Kohl: That depends a bit on what stage the startup is in. Across all contacts, these are the current top topics from our Socialpizza colleagues: 

  • Founding a GmbH – status determination procedure 
  • Remote work – workation 
  • Founding during/after university 
  • Shared-cost insurance 

Startups think early on about topics like workplace health promotion 

Munich Startup: Is it different working with startups than with other companies? 

Johannes Kohl: Absolutely. It’s not always easier, but it’s definitely a lot of fun, because the hierarchies are usually flatter and the decision-making paths shorter. It also seems to me that topics like workplace health promotion are considered from the top down much earlier than in so-called established companies. It’s something everyone benefits from in the end. The first startups and startup hubs, such as Werk1, are using our Work Life Portal, an app that enhances team results and caters individually to the goals and wishes of the users – and yes, it’s also available in multiple languages. 

Munich Startup: What stage should startups ideally be in when they contact you? 

Johannes Kohl: In the phase when they need support from us. We want to support and complement founders. The nice thing is that, on the one hand, we never know exactly what phase our partner is in when we first meet, but on the other hand, it’s not really relevant, because with our Socialpizza team and the startup consultants on site, we can give everyone exactly the assistance they need when they need it: It doesn’t matter if it’s during the idea, founding, development or growth phase, or if it’s about workplace health promotion. Founders end up saving a lot of time, energy and money – so feel free to contact us. 

“Don’t wait until there’s an emergency” 

Munich Startup: What’s the best advice you can give a startup? 

Johannes Kohl:  Don’t wait until there’s an emergency, contact us early on. From my point of view, it’s important for founders to know the areas in which they can expect support from us. Then they can make targeted use of our services where they need us. Companies aren’t allowed to dictate which health insurance their employees choose, but they can certainly choose their own health partner, and we’re happy to be that partner.  Our health partnership always adapts individually to the needs of the company/startup. We’d be happy to show you exactly how it works. 

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

Johannes Kohl: Either our colleagues in the Socialpizza team or Vanessa or me. Our Socialpizza colleagues are a point of contact across Germany, no matter what phase a startup is in. 

Vanessa and I usually come into play when support is needed on site. We help with topics involving workplace health promotion, but also when a startup hub, a university spin-off center or an accelerator in Bavaria wants to make use of our various programs. We’re a relevant point of contact in particular when startups start hiring employees in Germany or from abroad. We not only quickly set up membership, but also help with onboarding and, above all, with cancelling “properly.” In other words, we’re not just here to help in the beginning. Give us a try – we think you’ll be impressed.