Munich Startup: What motivated you to found Lotaro?
Julia Kupke, Lotaro: It was clear to me from the beginning that I needed freedom, an entrepreneurial team and a clear impact that’s evident in every task I tackle. That has been my guiding conviction since my first founding. I feel at home in the startup scene because I have the opportunity to create something new every day and to exchange ideas with like-minded people. This motivation is what drove me to start a business and it inspires me to give my all each and every day.
The team as the foundation for success
Munich Startup: What do you now wish you had known before founding your first company?
Julia Kupke: An important realization that I would have liked to have had before my first startup is the significance of having the right team. Ideas can come and go, and situations can change, but the founding team remains. In good times and in bad. It’s crucial to stick together, to grow together, to celebrate and fail – and to build trust. The team forms the foundation for the success of a company and has a significant influence on the course of the founding process. I didn’t pay enough attention to that initially and didn’t know how to find out if it was a match.
Munich Startup: How have you funded your company so far?
Julia Kupke: We’ve financed our company with our own funds, i.e. with bootstrapping. From the very beginning, our goal has been to generate direct revenue with our services. We wanted to get direct feedback from the market to find out if there was a willingness to pay for our product and if customers were satisfied with the product. Many make the mistake of building a product first and then asking the customers – we did it the other way around, which saved a lot of time and money.
Munich Startup: When and where do you have the best ideas?
Julia Kupke: While many people find inspiration in the tranquility of meditation, it’s a little different for me. Sport is extremely helpful for me. Especially when I’m cycling or jogging, I come up with a lot of ideas that wouldn’t pop into my mind as easily while sitting at my laptop. The physical activity and movement seem to help me get creative and are also fun!
What also helps is sitting down with my co-founders outside of operational business to discuss, brainstorm or work on new ideas. Our different profiles mean lots of interesting topics end up on the table.
Chat GPT as a personal assistant
Munich Startup: What are your three favorite work tools?
Julia Kupke: My three favorite work tools are:
- Notion: I use Notion to organize structures, processes and documentation. It allows me to efficiently organize my workflows and to clearly manage information. I also use it in my private life.
- Figma: I like to use Figma for any design. With its versatile and user-friendly interface, it helps me create graphics, UI/UX designs and prototypes without having to be a trained designer.
- Chat GPT: And my personal assistant, Chat GPT, obviously needs to be included. It’s a valuable tool for getting answers to questions quickly, brainstorming on ideas and solving tasks. With Chat GPT, I basically have an intelligent helper by my side.
Munich Startup: What’s your top tip for pitching?
Julia Kupke: My top tip for pitching is: Perform video analysis regularly. It’s very important to have the courage to take a critical look at yourself. The best thing to do is to record yourself during presentations and to work on the nuances over and over again. After all, practice makes perfect, and there’s no limit to how many times you can practice. You can even practice on a daily basis to continuously work on your presentation skills. Regular video analysis allows you to identify your strengths, fine-tune how you present yourself and make continuous improvements.
Julia Kupke: “There’s no such thing as the perfect time”
Munich Startup: Do you think now is a good time to start a company? Why?
Julia Kupke: There’s no such thing as the perfect time to start a company. Of course, it was easier in sales a few years ago because companies had more money available for new initiatives. But in my opinion, it’s much more important to have a high-quality product that leads to strong customer ties and not just a one-time sales success. And that’s why it’s still possible to get off to a successful start with a product that solves a problem and provides a great user experience.
The focus should be on offering a solution that meets customers’ needs and gives them real added value. If there’s a clear market demand for the product and it provides a good experience, you can successfully start a company regardless of the current economic situation.
Munich Startup: What technology or industry would you bank on when founding your next startup?
Julia Kupke: I don’t have a specific focus, because it’s always about the user and their needs to me. I feel it’s crucial to solve an urgent problem and provide an outstanding user experience. It’s not absolutely necessary to pursue the latest innovation.
It’s much more important to address a problem that urgently needs to be solved and to create a great user experience in the process. If you can persuade and engage your target audience by solving their problems and giving them a great experience, you’ll be successful in the long run. That’s why my focus is always on giving users real added value and on solving their problems. Regardless of the specific technology or industry.
A desk, Internet, transportation connections and communication
Munich Startup: What do you think could still use some improvement in Munich as a startup location?
Julia Kupke: With regard to Munich as a startup location, I see two main areas that could be improved: the availability of office space and its affordability.
Office space is extremely expensive in Munich, which can be a challenge for startups. It’s particularly important for startups to be able to work together as a team and to grow together during difficult periods. Even though startup hubs and similar institutions are advertised, you often see corporate logos on the doors that are used for “innovation meetings.”
As founders, we don’t ask for much: a desk, an internet connection, good public transportation connections and the ability to communicate with other founders. It’s not about having luxurious sofas or anything like that. Especially in the beginning, 1000 euros for rent is just too much for a team of two.
A good startup location should offer affordable workspace that meets startups’ needs and creates an environment that encourages communication and collaboration among founders.
Munich Startup: What founder would you like to meet in person some day? And what would you ask them?
Julia Kupke: Elon Musk.
- I would be interested to find out how he gains such clarity about his visions and how he pursues them so consistently. His ability to think big has led to impressive success.
- Another question I would ask him would be about his talent for motivating his team and for getting them to develop the same vision and ambition. Elon Musk has shown he is capable of attracting talented people and getting them excited about his projects. It would be interesting to see how he builds and maintains that kind of commitment and collaboration.
- What I would like to learn from Elon Musk overall is how he manages to implement his visions so effectively and to inspire people to believe in his ideas. His experience and insights could teach me valuable lessons as a founder in terms of strategic thinking, motivation and team leadership.