Interview with mentor Dr. Kai Hudetz


Why have you committed yourself as mentor? From your perspective, what makes STARBUZZ special?

For decades, IFH Cologne transfers research results to operational practice. In our projects we help our customers to better understand the needs of their clients and to initiate appropriate measures. This (sometimes brute) tendency towards full customer centricity, that Amazon is exemplifying, is something that startups should internalize early on. I love to discuss this topic with startups, which are often technology-focused.

Personally, I believe that STARBUZZ offers an excellent network for startups. Especially the close connection to Hochschule Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences with its new ecommerce study program creates a win-win situation for all involved parties – startups and partnering companies.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will IFH KÖLN support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

Startups need a promising and possibly unique idea. It is paramount to get early (and fast) feedback from customers in order to optimize the business model. Adapting to customer needs and market conditions in an early stage is an outcome of a necessary learning cycle that every startup should go through. We know commercial markets extremely well and in great detail. As a result, we can help startups with a sound calculation of market potentials. With our brand ECC Köln (formerly ECC Handel) we have published numerous reports and advised a lot of companies.

As a mentor, I want to share my 20 years of expertise in ecommerce with promising startups that take part in STARBUZZ. In Addition, our network of more than 200 ECC club members – retailers, manufacturers and service providers – represents a vast pool of experts on nearly every topic. Startups have the opportunity to tap into this network.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

A good idea is often developed privately. But to scale up this idea, startups need to access the best contacts at the right time. Networking and the exchange with experienced professionals and other startups play a big – and often crucial – role.  Furthermore, startups have access to an excellent infrastructure, helping them to focus on the development and optimization of their business model.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

I expect passion, willingness to engage in discussion, and dynamism. The same old story: it’s better to have 80% implemented than 100% planned. Last but not least, startups should be ready to focus hard on customer-centricity and optimize their business model based on customer needs.


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