Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem is Govshare solving?
Philipp Schwarz, Govshare: Govshare is a solution platform for communal climate protection. As such, we compile a central pool of relevant tools for implementation, such as templates and practical examples, to take the burden off cities and municipalities in a decentralized manner.
Why? Our 18 months of research and more than 60 conversations with stakeholders in administration and local politics demonstrated that most municipalities face very similar tasks when it comes to climate protection, but at the same time, the wheel is constantly being reinvented in many places.
An intuitive and fun approach to climate protection measures
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Philipp Schwarz: Unfortunately, it is. It’s true there’s no shortage of solutions, consulting services or knowledge pipelines for municipal climate protection. But it can often be overwhelming, for example, because climate protection managers don’t even know where to start and which concrete steps they should take. A cross-source and cross-regional platform can ease the burden by covering part of the research for administrative staff.
What also sets us apart from others is our focus on intuitive design. In terms of look and feel, Govshare is more like an online store than Wikipedia. This has led our initial users to say things like: “Clicking through the site is really fun.” Something like that makes our hearts beat faster, because that’s what it’s all about in our view: Implementing concrete measures to fight climate change locally is fun!
On the verge of giving up
Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?
Philipp Schwarz: When I met my current co-founder, Franz-Ferdinand (Kress, note from editor) in late 2021, I was on the verge of giving up founding Govshare. At that time, I had already invested about one and a half years in market research, network building, prototyping and business plan development. Funding was needed, but there wasn’t any in sight. At that time, Franz-Ferdinand had advised me pro bono as part of an accelerator program and was convinced: Govshare needs to be implemented! When he heard I was going to have to give up soon, he made a well-thought-out proposal to found jointly.
We then got to know each other in an intensive and very structured way. We realized immediately – it’s a good fit! We’re on the same wavelength when it comes to the most important questions and our characters and how we work are very complementary. Then the wild ride began through pitching, financing, notarial founding and product development.
Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Philipp Schwarz: There were various challenges:
- Finding a self-sustaining and sustainable business model. Govshare was founded with only one goal – to make a measurable positive impact in municipal climate protection. Reconciling that with a sustainable income model was and is one of the biggest challenges for us.
- Securing initial funding.
- As a platform, we struggle with the classic chicken-and-egg problem. How do you get the ball rolling so others have the courage to join us?
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and in five years?
Philipp Schwarz: Our core product, the web-based solution platform Govshare.org, only launched at the beginning of May 2023. The first 20 municipalities, including Saarbrücken, Esslingen, the district of Bad Kissingen and the city of Bad Sassendorf, are already on board. In one year, Govshare will have secured a scalable model that creates very concrete added value for local administrative staff by saving time in the implementation of climate protection measures. By then, we will have hopefully proven many times over that our platform can help you implement more measures per year with the same resources.
The Govshare vision: systemic change
Where will Govshare be in five years? Hopefully, we will have managed to bring together the most important players in municipal climate protection and to have developed our offer in a user-oriented way so hundreds of cities and municipalities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will happily work with Govshare on a daily basis to add value while saving time and money in the process.
Our vision: That the systemic change we’re hoping and striving for will also have gained momentum by then. Sharing experience after completing projects will be commonplace. That means negative experiences and lessons will also be talked about more – what would we do differently next time and why? Because even at the risk of sounding somewhat cliché, I firmly believe: Climate protection is a joint task!
Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?
Philipp Schwarz: Better than its reputation. There’s not only a vibrant startup scene here, but also a growing impact scene. The direct support and expertise provided by the responsible departments of the city of Munich has also been excellent so far.
Munich Startup: Quick exit or staying power?
Philipp Schwarz: Definitely staying power. We began our startup journey right with a strategic investor. That’s unusual, but in addition to our focus on positive impact, it shows that we think long-term and, above all, in very cooperative way.