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Stories from the INTIE program

What moves our participants? What is the INTIE program all about? You can find some interesting insights here.

With „Maker Economy“ to business success?

For Thorben Pollack, the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship are not new. Some time ago, he himself founded a company in the food sector. Unfortunately, success did not materialize at that time. His business model was too dependent on external partners who did not cooperate as desired. Thorben’s main takeaway from this was „that you should not make yourself completely dependent on external forces in the business model. Otherwise, as in my case, the business model can be strongly influenced by them or even fail. I would also pay attention to this when looking for business models in the INTIE program.“

The 23-year-old, who is studying IT management and consulting at the University of Hamburg, formulates a clear goal for his participation in INTIE: „At the end, I want to leave the project with a concrete idea that I can then pursue for a startup. I also hope to meet people here with whom I can reliably tackle this together.“ The prospect of meeting people outside his own degree program and from other disciplines who are interested in founding a company at INTIE has strongly motivated Thorben to participate in the program.

In addition, he hopes to further develop his pitching skills and learn how to sell an idea well to the outside world. He became especially aware of this at the Inspirational Meetup in Hammerbrooklyn. These meetings create a space for creativity and idea generation for the participants, where founders and experts from the field give inspiring input to the participants. Thorben met the founders of Goodbytz at one of these meetups. Their young company produces robots as assistants for professional kitchens. „The founders immediately managed to inspire me directly about their idea with their short presentation and infectious spirit. That was really impressive!“, says Thorben.

He also found it remarkable how quickly the founders of Goodbytz were able to practically implement their idea and produce a prototype with a 3D printer in a very short time. Thorben explored this aspect in greater depth with his working group. As part of the INTIE module „Future Trends,“ the group is looking for challenges that are currently or will be highly significant for companies, society or individuals in the future. Based on the identified trends, the participants will then develop future scenarios and ideas for new business ideas. Together with three other students, Thorben is working out the Future Trends in the Economy area. One trend they discovered there is called the „Maker Economy.“

Thorben explains that it makes sense for many companies not to buy products or product parts that are only needed in small quantities from suppliers, but to manufacture them themselves using 3D printers – just as Goodbytz does. „So far, however, this has been implemented mainly by large companies, as only they can invest in the expensive high-performance machines needed,“ Thorben said. In the future, however, small companies could also benefit from this trend, as maker spaces are increasingly being set up to provide the necessary infrastructure. Thorben and his team see this as an advantage for rapid prototyping and more flexible manufacturing of products in small quantities. By eliminating the supply chain, companies are less dependent on suppliers and can save time. This flexibility also makes it possible to tailor products to individual customer requirements.

The next few weeks will show whether a viable business model can be derived from this insight, or whether the team will discover other, more promising trends. We will keep you updated here on the development of these and other groups and the trends they identify.

Throw away everything that everyone already knows

Currently, the focus is on a seminar on „Future Trends“: the students identify relevant trends, i.e. they look for challenges that are currently or, even better, will be of high importance in the future. In the current winter semester, the focus is on „Post-Pandemic-Changes and E-Commerce“. The participants are supported by Otto employees as experts who advise them through the process.

Based on the identified trends, the participants then develop future scenarios and ideas for new business ideas. The seminar is flanked by Inspirational Meetups. These are meetings that create a space for creativity and idea generation, where founders and experts from the field give participants inspiring input.

One participant is Philip Echtermeyer, a 24-year-old dual student of business informatics at HAW Hamburg. He gave us some personal insights into the currently running Future Trend seminar:

Why are you participating in the INTIE program?

I already participated in an idea workshop of Startup Port in May this year, which preceded the INTIE program. Since I am very interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, I found it very fitting to further improve my skills in this area. In Hamburg, there hasn’t been a huge offer in this area so far. INTIE also has this interdisciplinary and cross-university approach. The participants come from different universities and have different professional backgrounds. This brings together many different skills and exciting ideas. Another motivating factor is, of course, that you receive a certificate at the end.

What is your personal goal in the program?

I would like to develop as an entrepreneur and become more innovative, especially in areas that I haven’t dealt with much or at all before.

What have you learned so far?

In terms of content, I’ve learned a lot from researching trends so far – that you don’t just look for 08/15 trends that are already generally known anyway. It gets exciting when you find trends that have not yet been taken into account by the masses. There is then really potential in it and that pays again totally on the motivation! During my search for trends, I kept thinking about something that Professor Christian Lüthje from the Technical University of Hamburg had given us: At the kick-off event, he said that we should throw away everything that everyone already knows. And that is really true! That’s why I deliberately chose the Social Group, because this group works on trends in society and I had previously thought the least about them.

What are you working on in this group and how?

First, we brainstormed a lot on Miro and collected keywords on the topic of society. We then used them to develop clusters: Loneliness, Health, Work, Home Nesting, Society and others. We then did a lot of research on the clusters and thought about what was really new about them and what they had to do with Corona. From this, we were able to derive a number of trends, and in the next step we decided on three of them.

What were they in detail?

We gave one trend the title „Young people in loneliness“. This describes the phenomenon that the feeling of loneliness has increased strongly as a result of the pandemic, especially among young people between the ages of 16 and 28, proportionately even more strongly than in other age groups. A second trend is „social gaming networks.“ In recent years, online games are evolving from semi-interactive content to full-fledged social platforms, with the pandemic or resulting loneliness playing a major role. And the third trend we selected we called „community living.“ Community living is also being pushed by social trends such as loneliness, the growing wealth gap, and the shift in values between generations. The new vision of community living aims to integrate the broader society.

What exciting insights have you already had in the process?

I didn’t think that younger people in particular would be affected so much by loneliness due to the pandemic, and that it would mainly affect people in the cities and less those in the countryside. I also didn’t realize what a strong impact the pandemic has on the development of young children. We will now continue to work on this and hopefully in the next step we will find ideas on how to respond to these trends with a business model.

How do you like the Future Trends seminar so far?

Very good! You can tell that everyone who takes part is up for it and intrinsically motivated. I’m especially looking forward to the next steps, and also to learning more about the trends of the other groups.

The Social Group, in which Philip is currently working, and also the groups of the other participants will continue to work on the trends in the coming weeks. Accompanied by professors from the participating universities and employees of the project partner Otto, they will formulate the resulting challenges as precisely as possible in order to derive solutions from them in later phases that are suitable as business models. We will keep you informed about the development of the other groups and their trends here.