More than 300 small businesses presented themselves at SCALE11 in CeBIT Hall 11 this year. Here at Europe's leading startup platform they connected with accelerators and business angels, and formed partnerships with corporations. Many entrepreneurs add that their best experiences at the fair were of a less tangible nature.
Philipp Zeitschel, Robert Grossmayer and Philipp Ruppert are best friends who share the same dream. With their startup Lion Keen , these three partners developed a sort of IT building kit for companies who can use the software to "snap together" the solutions they need in their own sector. But the route to their business startup was difficult, especially financing. They had to get through a maze of bureaucracy and fight for their ideas – a strain on their friendship that sometimes caused them to doubt the value of their own product.
"It's reassuring to have a big IT company like Salesforce come to see us at SCALE11, and show such interest in our product," says Philipp Ruppert. "Then we know we're on the right track." And sometimes this knowledge is more important than anything else.
Digitization has arrived in every area of business and society, and the products shown by startups in the CeBIT exhibition halls reflected this diversity. When hundreds of inspired young entrepreneurs come together in one large hall, the sparks can fly: Here is a software developer talking to the " green cloud hoster ". Over there are ambitious city car builders discussing plans with interface designers.
Hearing fresh ideas also means looking at your own business model from another perspective. Is my business case really that strong? Does my target market look the way I thought? Events such as the Founders' Fight Club helps entrepreneurs sort out the strengths and weaknesses of their idea. Here founders are not pitching to a team of investors that keeps mum about their selection criteria. Instead, startups duel each other in words, defending their own business model while trying to find the holes in their "opponent's" plans. This generates plenty of new ideas.
Even innovative business ideas must generally stand out from many competitors. It is worth good money to get your own name into the hearts and minds of your target group.
The startup Animus Home , for example, is "at home" (quite literally) in a field that should be booming in the next few years: the smart home. Swedish entrepreneur Fidan Bytyqi and his co-founders got the idea when they were moving house: Their boxes were unpacked, their smart devices all plugged in – and nothing worked. So the team developed the Animus Heart control unit, which lets devices from completely different providers communicate with each other. Users can precisely define its operation using a series of apps. For example a networked light bulb could always light up when an intruder is standing at the door. Or it creates a different lighting mood for immersive home cinema and gaming.
From the very start, Animus Home is a startup that needs partners – including developers to design and program their own apps. A fair like SCALE11 offers a business like this just the right platform, with smart device manufacturers as well as IT professionals and other gadget lovers all in one place. This spurs growth of the community and should provide plenty of motivation to pour even more energy into their product after the fair.
Interested in taking part in SCALE11 2017? You can already request a commitment-free consultation for next year's event.