The Suitcase founders (from left to right): Philipp Hertel, Tim Fischer and Tim Kniepkamp
Photo: Suitcase

Suitcase: Litigation made easy

With its online platform for dispute resolution, Suitcase offers conflicting parties the opportunity to reach an out-of-court settlement quickly and easily. In the long term, the startup's digital arbitration service shall establish itself as a genuine alternative to lengthy court proceedings. One of the founders told us why this is necessary, how the project came about and why Munich is the ideal location for it.

Munich Startup: What exactly does Suitcase do? What problem do you solve?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Suitcase offers a neutral forum to resolve legal disputes amicably in just a few days. We are a digital arbitration service with an innovative process to bring the conflicting parties together. We are currently focusing on conflicts following job termination and repayment of rent deposits.

Our aim is to create a genuine alternative to the courts. Traditional court proceedings do not meet people’s needs. It takes too long. It is too expensive. And it’s so complex that without legal advice you don’t know whether you’re right.

This is also consistent with the findings of various studies. Compared to 1995, we are seeing 59 percent fewer complaints before the labor courts. At the same time, proceedings are taking longer. And the population has a similar perception: 82 percent consider the proceedings to be too long and 77 percent consider the courts to be overloaded. This problem will worsen by 2030: one in four judges nationwide will be retired.

Munich Startup: Doesn’t that already exist?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: No. And that also surprised us a little. We know that a few Berlin founders tried it in the early 2000s. They were probably ahead of their time. Of course, there is another question behind this: “Who is the competition?”. And competition is anyone who solves the same problem – no matter how. From this perspective, the courts are just as much our competitors as tech-savvy law firms.

Suitcase started as a project alongside the university

Munich Startup: What is your founding story?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Tim and I have known each other since 2018 through a student competition for lawyers. We took part for different universities and became friends. In summer 2020, a Brazilian friend visited us and told us about a digital court case on a cell phone. The question arose as to whether this could also be done in Germany. After thinking about a legal concept, we got Philipp on board.

Suitcase was initially a project alongside university. At the beginning of 2024, we’ve started working full-time on it and moved to Munich for the Xpreneurs program. We lived in a shared flat for founders on Rosenheimer Platz. In the summer, we decided to set up the company in Munich and moved into an office in Werk1 at Ostbahnhof.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Initially, we struggled with how to build a viable business model. The first product idea – a digital arbitration procedure for B2B disputes – was legally and technically feasible. However, it was not economically viable. Once we had agreed on our current product, we had to decide between B2B and B2C. B2C seemed appealing to us but would have involved high marketing costs that we would have had to pass on to the end customers. This would not have improved access to the law. B2B was unattractive because there are too few suitable conflicts. So in the end it became B2B2C: we sell the product to lawyers and legal expenses insurers. However, the users of the platform are often private individuals.

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where would you like to be in five years?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Our vision for 2030 is to be represented in six European countries. This will enable us to manage over 300,000 legal disputes per year.

Down-to-earth with a high quality of life

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Very positive. That was the reason for the move from Berlin to Munich. While it’s very hip in Berlin, the founders here are more down-to-earth. It’s less about the blatant public image and more about strong sales. This is demonstrated by unicorns such as Celonis, which the general public (consciously) does not know. The quality of life in Munich is also high: we go hiking a lot at the weekends or take the night train to Italy.

Munich Startup: Hidden Champion or Shooting Star?

Tim Kniepkamp, Suitcase: Hidden Champion. That fits our image better as a neutral platform. We don’t want the big spotlight, we want to help people resolve their conflicts quickly. So we only want to be known in such a way that people trust us.