As the conVenture is designed along precisely this mission, its latest edition allowed more than 225 participants in-depth insights into the local start-up scene and created plenty of opportunities to network. For the first time the event was hosted by Prof. Jim Lacy – who some of our readers may know better as the film professor or as part of the short film festival Flensburger Kurzfilmtage, which he put second this year after his commitment at the conVenture.

Tomorrow’s elite?

In his keynote “Entrepreneurs are the elite of today’s society” Ulrik Ortiz Rasmussen (serial entrepreneur, CEO and founder of r2p and 1st Chair of the Board of the Baltic Business Angels Schleswig-Holstein) spoke of the necessity to move on to a new mindset and away from the conservative approach German industry still takes.

Ulrik started his presentation with a rather gloomy outlook for the German economy. Even though the economy is doing just fine according to statistics, the educational system is losing touch with the real world and is not qualifying the elite of tomorrow. On top of this, an outdated infrastructure creates its very own stumbling blocks in light of the digital shift – in his view digital infrastructure is hardly existent.

Access to a functioning ecosystem and a support network are more crucial now than ever before. With their disruptive innovations entrepreneurs are drivers of change while defining new standards.

Our border region is a great place to start a business according to Rasmussen. Its location as a gate to Scandinavia creates a very strong consumer market for Flensburg. Rasmussen also thinks, the region would benefit from an international entrepreneurship master’s degree programme.

  The conVenture and its start-up pier in the foyer of Flensburg’s audimax lecture theatre. (photo credit: Jordt)         Jim Lacy interviews Ulrik Rasmussen after the keynote (photo credit: Jordt)          On founding in a niche: Janus Beck Wilke (photo credit: Jordt)

The conVenture and its start-up pier in the foyer of Flensburg’s audimax lecture theatre. (photo credit: Jordt)

Jim Lacy interviews Ulrik Rasmussen after the keynote (photo credit: Jordt)
On founding in a niche: Janus Beck Wilke (photo credit: Jordt)

Founding in a niche

Augustenborg is a small town near Sønderborg, it counts 4,000 inhabitants. Very few people would guess that this small place is home to the headquarters of a very successful global business. BodyMod is currently active in 19 countries, the team speaks 28 languages – more countries will follow soon.

Janus Beck Wilke told the audience about the company’s founding history and how he had been inspired to find a business idea in a niche by Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. Beck Wilke’s recommendation: look for a niche and strive for market leadership instead of fighting for a small piece of the cake on a big market.

His motivation to start a business was curiosity and the goal to make 1,000 euros a month for vacations and other nice things. So far the company’s growth has been impressive – so impressive indeed, that for the first time the strategy for 2020 was created by the staff and the company is no longer led by its management alone. At BodyMod they live their very own philosophy. Everyone, even the freelancers, should feel that they are part of a company-family.

Starting a business with someone else’s idea

Lennart Hahn and Tobias Schütz have known each other since their first days of school in the small town of Bad Bramstedt. They had been planning their first business while they were still in school and next to their studies: an online platform for golfers. With the help of the WT.SH (Schleswig-Holstein association for business development and technology transfer) they proposed their business idea to Ulrik Rasmussen who did not want to support the idea as a business angel. However, he liked the two as founding personalities and started a business selling pinball machines with them – the Pinball Factory.

After the trio had tackled the pinball market from Flensburg, they created another source of income: “Cultcamper”. The second jointly founded company rents out Volkswagen T6 busses on a weekly basis. According to the team, these busses are perfect for Germans who want to travel through Scandinavia as well as for Danes wanting to travel Europe. The company was launched with two busses but this number will increase significantly: for the next season customers will be able to choose between six to eight busses.

Starting a business with someone else’s idea: Tobias Schütz & Lennart Hahn (photo credit: Jordt)          Snacks on the start-up pier (photo credit: Jordt)          Save the date!

Starting a business with someone else’s idea: Tobias Schütz & Lennart Hahn (photo credit: Jordt)

Snacks on the start-up pier (photo credit: Jordt)
 Save the date!

Elevator pitches & networking on the start-up pier

Four one-minute short elevator pitches were the appetizers for the start-ups presenting themselves on the start-up pier in the foyer of the audimax lecture theatre complex. This year’s pitches were given by:

  • Lina Ries of atodo: an app for cloud-based guest lists
  • Lara Rossi of EQUIOR: a platform to help finding a stable for your horse
  • Nathalie Feldmann of Salvatio: an emergency button
  • Nina Schiffmann of Scive: an app for the best surfing spots

Following the official programme the participants had plenty of opportunity to find out more about some of the VentureWærft start-ups at the booths on the start-up pier. Networking was one of the major aspects here and as always there were snacks and drinks to make this as easy as possible.

At shortly after eight in the evening the free shuttle bus made its way back to Sønderborg, slowly marking the end of the insightful evening in the audimax on the campus in Flensburg. 

Outlook

A brief note from us to you: The next conVenture on the Danish side of the border will take place on Tuesday, 12 May 2020, in the Alsion in Sønderborg. It will be held as part of the 2020 celebrations marking the centenary of the referendum on the border between Germany and Denmark.

 


The conVenture is a networking event dealing with everything start-up in the German-Danish border region. It is a place where start-ups (and start-ups to be), people offering support for founders, experienced business people, investors and people interested in entrepreneurship and starting a company can meet. Next to two start-up stories from young founders our main focus is on networking and the Start-up Pier, a small fair presenting regional campus start-ups. The event will be held in English.

For more information on the VentureWærft and the conVenture visit www.venturewaerft.com.

The conVenture is a joint event by the German and Danish VentureWærft docks. Dr. Werner Jackstädt Centre for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Chamber of Industry and Commerce Flensburg, Technologiezentrum Flensburg, Syddansk Universitet (Entrepreneurship Labs & Mads Clausen Institute) and Sønderborg Iværksætter Service. Next to these partners the VentureWærft consists of experienced business people and start-ups from the region. The VentureWærft is supported in its work by the Grenzland INNOVATIV Schleswig-Holstein project. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Joint Science Conference.

 

 
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