Larry Page did it. Sergey Brin did it. Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos did it, too – all of them founded a (very successful) start-up company. Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with something that would qualify to be turned into a booming business yet – but maybe you have a great idea in that department? If so, you might just need that last little nudge to get active! Sure, Göttingen isn’t the Silicon Valley of Germany, the mecca of all the genius entrepreneurs. Still, developing a business idea and incorporating a business of your own is highly encouraged at our university – so, what are you waiting for?
Become the founder of your own start-up company
You might have some objections: A great idea is crucial, sure. But isn’t there more if you want to become a founder and incorporate a business? Short version is yes. There is indeed a lot more – business plan, financing, marketing, and so on are just some aspects of it. But the good news is, you are not alone! Founding is facilitated by the Georg-August-University: “One of our main goals is to show students that there is not just the option of being an employee but also an alternative – and that is founding a start-up company yourself!”, says Simon Bohn who works at the department for Start-up Support. The department how it operates today exists since 2016, is financed by funds for the improvement of study conditions and works together with partners from the region like the SNIC, the Start-up Network Innovation Campus in south lower Saxony.
Consulting services and the “Lift-Off” contest of the Start-Up Support
“We offer initial consultation as well as further consultation for students and teams that have a business idea and think about founding a start-up company. We help in developing business networks, applying for funding, and to find more qualified team members if necessary. Furthermore, we organize seminars and workshops on entrepreneurship”, Bohn tells me, “and we’re also hosting the “Lift-Off” contest for founders every year”. This contest always starts in winter and lasts half a year until summer. At its closing event, all the teams pitch their ideas in front of an audience and a jury. “The contest is very open”, says Bohn, “and you can apply with a concrete idea even if you have already founded your business – it just shouldn’t then have been active in business for more than two years”. The interest in the “Lift-Off” contest has increased steadily over the last years – more than 20 teams participated and more than 300 people in the audience were counted last year. For comparison: The first time the contest was held there were only 12 teams in it. The prize money has also increased, from around 10.000 Euros to 30.000 Euros in 2020.
Mentoring and Coaching – learning form one another
“Usually we get feedback from the participating founder teams that the mentoring provided during these six months is incredibly helpful,” says Bohn. “The teams are assigned experienced mentors from the business world, who can then pass on their practical experience to the team.” But there is more: Former founding teams, who actually benefited from the advice at Start-up Support Service or were successful in the “Lift-Off” competition, also participate as mentors at the competition: “We are particularly pleased when former founding teams decide to share their experiences with the candidates,” explains Bohn, “because those who are still in the middle of founding their own company benefit a lot from the advice of someone who was in the exact same situation as they are now”.
Everybody can get advice from the Start-Up Support Service!
The Start-up Support Service is not only open to students at the University of Göttingen. Anyone, from students to staff, researchers and even professors and alumni can contact the Start-up Support Service with their ideas and get advice. “We’re working closely with SNIC, a joint project of the University of Göttingen, PFH, HAWK and TU Clausthal,” explains Bohn. There are different levels of advice for founding teams. In the so-called ‘pre-incubator’, the start-ups can use special premises with the appropriate IT infrastructure to advance their project. For the area of ‘LifeScience’ there is the the so called ‘Accelerator’, where special coaching is offered to the teams additionally.
If you’re curious now and maybe having a promising business idea, the Start-up Support Service of the University of Göttingen is very easy to contact. You can either write an e-mail and make an appointment, or simply call! If you don’t have an idea of your own yet, but would like to learn more about innovation and founding: Take a look at the Certificate Programme “Innovation and Founding”! Among other things, there are workshops on project management as well as a pitch training.