Parul Madan found my post on facebook – about the Founders Institute in San Francisco. I have seen the life video in October where the Institute hosted an event and gave five Start-ups a chance to present their company and products to interested investors, who could watch them worldwide through the network. Actually at that time I was impressed about the professional presentations – on the point, clear structured and also using the right business insights.
Last week Parul Madan contacted me and invited me to join the first Founders Institute Meeting in Cologne.
I learned that Parul Madan and her husband Nikhil Madan in Cologne and are the nucleus oft he Founders Institute in Cologne – together with the lawyer Timm Neu. They had their first event in Cologne at the Pädagoische Hochschule – and Parul invited me for this experience. Of course I was curious and joint them. The room was full of young men, 50 percent looked somehow foreign, some where 20 and some 50, the majority was about the age, when you finished your studies and go into the world. I could see about five women in the room, out of 100 men. This was the potential of start-ups.
Timm Neu presented the Founders Institute, the philosophy and what they are looking for: The high performer, with the DNA und power to go through the process and become an Entrepreneur. The challenge: Every person has to take a test to prove that they are really going for it. After the test you have to inscribe to a four month training. Every week you meet your mentor online and strengthen your profile, clear the vision and than the business plan. There is a very structured process behind it – with lots of videos, checklist and templates. It is hard work – every week about 20-30 hours active “homework” and coaching. Find more on www.foundersinstitute.com
First of all the Managing Direkctor of UPS Germany in Cologne Frank Sportolari. After him the multitalented Wolfgang Hennes , who has founded more than 9 companies till now. These are the other coaches in th region: Joachim Vranken Founder of Digital Leadership Summit, Martin Prinz Founder akkuraum, Lorenz Gräf Founder Startplatz, Arndt Rautenberg Founder.
What was different to other meetings I have been: With your signature on the registration paper you got a bottle of water – just to keep you fresh and awake – also some Haribo sweets to stand through the three hours. After the first break we were all introduced how to make a good elevator-speech. You know what this is: You meet a potential client in the elevator and you have one minute to introduce yourself, your company and why it is interesting for this person to contact you again! Challenging.
Most of the people talk to much and not on the point. So you need to be prepared for such a talk every day. So do it every day – at least to the person you see in the mirror in the morning. You need to know your words by heart and it has to come out natural.
Se we set down and did it – made our 1 minute speech – and than it comes: One by one went in front and presented. But not before we cleared something: If you think somebody wants to steal your idea – and you do not feel save here to talk about it – learn the first lesson of an entrepreneur: The idea is not what counts – it is the implementation. And you will only go through all the trouble, if you believe in your idea and your dream to make it true. Somebody who steels an idea, usually does not have this passion. So come on – and do it:
I do not know the names of the young start-ups but I will five them a name and try to summurise their ideas:
Marc: He has created an app ….
Tim: He created a frame for the window of a retailer and if you stood in front of it – you could connect with your mobile and flip the pictures of presentation, offering the products inside the shop.
Elias: He wants to connect people who want to grow food in their or other gardens and sell this locally. “Grow your own food” was meant to bring people together and also shops.
Jacky: She does her phd about the water quality and created an app that is used by many people to test the water in the city. The data goes back to the local authority and so they can guarantee tested water.
Uli: He has created an app that brings together young people and old people for communication. It is to share time together, for shopping or just for talking. The app made to overcome loneliness.
It went on and on, one after the other. From time to time the mentos stopped them – say that again! Who is your customer? Many – so? But who will pay your bill at the end? And you could see immediately, they found the week point right away. Either the idea was not jet clear. The target group was not really clear – or there was no real business model behind it. But that is why all of them where there. They need support in communication, business thinking and presentation.
At the end Nikkihl looked up to where I was observing f and asked me to do my pitch. I did – well I was nervous too – as Elevator-Speech is not that easy. I talked also about how important it is to find the right name – that this name is a save and tested word in other languages and that you can remember it. We shared business cards and we will have some coffee in the next weeks.
I am so glad about this initiative as with all the start-up and workspace rooms, there is no mentoring that is effective – and many coaches will help you to overcome some points, but they will not drive you to a business concept. I really liked the idea – the performance and also of course the international network – more than 170 hubs are developed and people get support.
The young lady next to me wants to become a life-coach. She had a deep experience in her own life, she managed to get out of the mass and start a new life. Full of this power she wants to help people to do their own turn. We shared cards – go for it – find some customers or even testers and find out, do people like it, what is missing, do I need to learn something, or do I need to find a good structure? If you do not test it – you never know.