Posts in mentor
Interview with mentor Dr. Jörg Niesenhaus
 
 

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

I am always fascinated by new business ideas and the early phase of a company. I love to share my insights and knowledge to help teams in overcoming the first obstacles. In addition, as someone who was born in the Ruhr area, I like to see more successful startups in my place of origin.

The combination of large and small partnering companies from different business areas is a huge benefit of STARBUZZ compared to other accelerators.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor of Centigrade GmbH?

My expertise lies in User Experience Design (UXD) and Gamification. UXD combines user research (Who is your user? What needs does he have?) and the process of generating concepts (e.g. wireframes) for the specification of the (software) product or service as well as the evaluation at different stages during the development. Gamification is the process of implementing game design elements in non-game contexts and has the potential to optimize e.g. user motivation, process efficiency or learning.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

STARBUZZ provides shared experiences and knowledge both of small and large companies with a wide spectrum of topics. For startups, this knowledge is by far the most valuable resource of the program.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

Fresh ideas from inspiring founders!

 

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Interview with mentor Jörg Poplawsky
 
 

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

At the end of the 90s I worked for a venture capital company which was financing early stage technology investments. I learned that there are four main success factors: the founders, the idea, the amount of money to realize it and the most important aspect from my perspective: the sales power. That was so important in my life that I changed my job, followed my passion and wanted to know all about sales. Today I´m managing partner of an agency which is focused on omnichannel sales promotions.

STARBUZZ allows founders to finalize their business ideas with experts. In my opinion this is a great chance to set up the right team of investors and to adjust ideas with practitioners.

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

As mentor:

• To advise a team in different aspects of selling ideas, products or services
• To share experience and opinions in an inspiring dialogue
• To share my personal network

As company:

• To create connections with potential brands and retailers
• To develop first sales promotional ideas or concepts

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

From my perspective, STARBUZZ offers a great opportunity for founders. Founders will gain a great infrastructure and access to private equity companies, mentors with diverse experience, relationships from different business sectors.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

The main point is passion.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven´t found it yet, keep looking. Don´t settle.” (Steve Jobs)

 

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Interview with mentor Johannes Mondon
 
 

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

First of all, supporting an accelerator is a good and meaningful thing. An accelerator program is a tool for creating and fostering innovation. Startups are enabled to implement and advance their ideas, while partnering companies can learn from new business models and technology.

The independence of STARBUZZ makes the program special, since it provides startups with a freedom of choice. They are free in their decision making processes – whether in regard to new ideas, the advancement of their business model or in selecting suitable partners from the vast network of supporting companies at STARBUZZ.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will 360° OPG and i!see events support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

At 360° OPG we have initiated and implemented several own startup projects in which we have gained a lot of practical expertise. I am happy to share my experience with other startups.

Our day-to-day business is, however, classical online and offline marketing consulting. This is an important topic for all startups. I am looking forward to support and advise the STARBUZZ-startups in this field.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

There are two good reasons for startups to apply: First, STARBUZZ is free-of-charge, and second, as startup you can never get enough new contacts and support. Especially in the early stage, input from the outside is extremely helpful.

In the Ruhr region and in NRW, startups can access a huge number of potential corporate clients for new innovative business models, products and services. It is an ideal location to get a foothold in the market.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

Primarily, I expect sincerity and commitment from the startups – but I am sure this is a given thing. Startups should know what they want, but they also need to be open to changes and always be self-critical.

Last but not least, I expect from and wish for the startups, that at the end of the accelerator program, they have made a huge leap forward!

 

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Interview with mentor Paiman Minavi
 
 

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

The early phases of startup development are particularly difficult. Like in a new job you take on. As a mentor, I want to share my expertise and experience with entrepreneurs. In doing so, I can help preventing mistakes that others – including myself – have already made and help startups with advice in critical development phases. I see myself as advisor and companion.

Mentoring startups is not a one way street. I also benefit from this, because entrepreneurs are agile and open-minded. Working with startups leads to a change of perspective, generating an “out-of-the-box” point of view and new ideas. This is extremely valuable.

STARBUZZ is unique, because it is the first independent accelerator for commerce and logistics. With its high-quality mentor network and renowned corporate partners, the accelerator gives startups the opportunity to work on their business models and ideas free of charge for at least 3 months.

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

In day-to-day business I see how difficult it is for startups to establish effective and efficient business processes. Setting up everything in the best way requires a lot of energy, time and money. With my 20+ years of experience I can support startups in this endeavor as an approachable mentor.

It is important that entrepreneurs make their own experiences and go their own way. But having a companion that questions decisions, addresses problems and provides advice on finding own solutions is invaluable.

Digital solutions require data security solutions in order to be successful. Migosens provides startups with advice on digital solutions and data security, because all digital solutions are based on processes and data (that needs to be collected, stored and analyzed/processed). Besides our own experts, startups get access to our network to make new contacts. Having access to and creating a proper own contact network is of high importance.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

Getting intensive support from experienced mentors is a gift for all entrepreneurs. STARBUZZ offers high quality support and an extremely strong mentor network. With its renowned partnering companies and the strength of the business location in commerce and logistics, startups can tap into an excellent ecosystem. Another advantage of STARBUZZ is its independence. Startups are not bound to one partner (as compared to other accelerator programs) – they can decide freely and identify suitable business and investment partners until the end of the program.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

First and foremost, entrepreneurs need commitment and stamina. In a startup, things often do not work out as planned. Passion also is a prerequisite for success. It is important to follow long-term goals and to develop trust in your team and your idea. A strong and passionate belief in your startup team and business model is crucial for convincing others from your startup and for managing setbacks. Last but not least, having a strong self-confidence differentiates entrepreneurs from competitors in terms of dynamics, speed and decision-making.

Personally, I am looking forward to new ideas and impulses. I am convinced that the saying “who gives a lot, gets a lot more back” holds true. It is a good feeling and it leads to new connections.

 

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Interview with mentor Folkert Schultz
 
 

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

Over the years I have benefited from very different personal support myself. And since I know how crucial this can be, I want to support young entrepreneurs, so that their extraordinary ideas can become successful. On top of this, the STARBUZZ way to interact certainly brings huge inspiration and enrichment to me, both personally and business-wise.

I think STARBUZZ is special, not only because it is non-profit oriented, but mainly because of the wide range of excellent partners and opportunities it offers to start-ups.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor?

During the past years I have gained a high level of portfolio management and retail experience. I am familiar with structures and the way of work in a global corporate group. In the last five years I focused on professionalizing a family-owned business. I can and want to pass this on to a new generation of entrepreneurs, especially the focus on customer centricity and the elaboration of new digital business models.

As a mentor I will also focus on each start-up individually and provide realistic and open, if necessary, critical feedback.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

One main aspect is the three months period that start-ups can invest into the success of their future. They are provided with excellent conditions to fully concentrate on their business development, get important input and support and build up relationships with relevant partners.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

The most important aspect is, that young entrepreneurs have to be 120% convinced of their idea. Only if this is the case, it is possible to become successful. Start-ups work hard, stay flexible and constantly track the business development to adjust, if necessary.

 

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Interview with mentor André Orfgen
 
 

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

Due to encrusted structures, established businesses often have difficulties and need a lot of time to implement an excellent marketing. As a result, a lot of marketing ideas evaporate already during the development phase.

Startups need a striking marketing. They have the opportunity to plan and implement a marketing strategy on a virtually “fresh field”. For me as marketing guy, reaping this opportunity with startups makes STARBUZZ highly interesting.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will WOW AND HOW support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

From “how” to “wow” – this is my mission at STARBUZZ.

With “wow” I do not mean a beautiful design. Creating the “wow” means a sound marketing and brand strategy, creativity and the utilization of top-notch technologies and tools to create startup success.

In digital commerce and logistics we combine marketing and sales in a new way.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

Berlin, Berlin… do not locate where your competition is huge - go where your market is!

For startups in digital commerce and logistics, North-Rhine Westphalia with the Rhine-Ruhr region is the market and location for your future.

STARBUZZ is independent and offers renowned experts to help you sharpen your business model and develop your business.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

In all the previous interviews my mentor colleagues have already said a lot of important things. Therefore, I would like to take a more emotional approach and add the most difficult expectation that I have for every entrepreneur:

Take time for your family and learn to delegate.

To delegate or involve is one of the most important challenges that an entrepreneur has to meet. It is impossible to do everything on your own. So you better learn it fast.

Learning to delegate ensures having time for your family. You need your family to be happy and, in turn, you need a happy family that supports you in all your endeavors. This is crucial for success.

 

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Interview with mentor Markus Ungemach
 
 

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

Being a child of the Ruhr area, it is a pleasure to be a mentor at STARBUZZ.

The region – with its industrial tradition – has always been a place of technological innovation and growth. In recent decades, the Ruhr region as a multi-city metropolis with an extraordinarily high density of universities, research institutions and technology centers, has developed into an agglomeration of innovation and new technologies. From my perspective, the region is best suited for young, innovative companies.

As a startup ecosystem, the region has made tremendous progress over the last years, but its potential is far from being fully utilized. The region will gain a lot more attention in the future, becoming an important startup hot spot in Europe.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will Ernst & Young (EY) support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

As mentor, I will advise and support startups to the best of my knowledge from a tax law perspective, covering all development phases – company formation, growth stages, exit scenarios or strategic pivots. To do this, I prefer a pragmatic hands-on advisory approach.

The main aspect of mentoring is listening and understanding the needs and requirements of the startups. Together, we will then create individualized structures that are best suited from an operational perspective and that – at the same time – provide flexibility for necessary adjustments in the future.

EY is one of the market leaders in tax advisory, accounting, transaction advisory and management consulting. EY and its startup initiative support startups from the very beginning and during all stages with advisory services in corporate strategy, taxation, business administration, law and corporate finance. Highly motivated and qualified experts support startups with advice and assistance. With its excellent network, EY can help in building bridges to investors and other strategic partners.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

Due to the diligent selection of partnering companies and competent mentors, STARBUZZ covers not only a broad range of topics, but also provides expertise to reach a great depth in all topics that are relevant for startups. In other words, the accelerator provides the right mentors for each startup!

With its independence, STARBUZZ ensures that the startups will have the time they need to test and validate their business models, and to develop the underlying strategies.

The Ruhr region, with its high density of universities, research institutions and technology centers, provides optimal conditions for startups in terms of knowledge transfer and recruiting of highly qualified talent.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

It is important that startups are open to critical feedback. Commitment and a strong determination for advancing their business model are absolute necessities for startups. In the process of advancing their startup, entrepreneurs and their team should always take time to reflect on their latest business development. It is important to continuously measure the degree of reaching the overall business goal and to re-adjust or even pivot at the right point in time.

 

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Interview with mentor Norma Stangl
 
 

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

A founder myself 20 years ago, I benefited from the positive results of mentoring by proRuhrgebiet and BAAR (BUSINESS ANGELS AGENCY RUHR). So now I would like to share my experience with startups to help them get their business going. My website for recycling tenders was set up by a startup team and it was invigorating to work with them and learn a lot about digital business in the course myself. So mentoring always works both ways.

The specialty about STARBUZZ is the diversity of its partners and their network.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will forschgruen / reasybid support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

During my years of entrepreneurship, digital commerce has grown rapidly, become mainstream but also very complex. Many rules and regulations have to be considered before starting a business and some are quite special and therefore often neglected, as those of “Producer Responsibility”, which is now a widely accepted ecological principle.

I can provide insight in those rules nationally and internationally and support startups from the beginning. A network of international collaborations can help as well as contacts to a network of customers. Also, as the topic is rather intricate, further expertise lies in simplifying complex regulations and make them more understandable.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

STARBUZZ consists of highly profiled partners and mentors. Collaboration with these can expedite an idea and help avoiding mistakes that would inhibit success. Even brilliant ideas often do not thrive due to a lack of better knowledge.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

They should have a clear understanding of what it means to set up a business, meaning absolute commitment to the idea, hard work, the ability to take criticism and incorporate new ideas that deviate from their point of view. To be successful, they should always try to see the customers point of view. “People will pay for what they want, not for what they need”.

 

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Interview with mentor Oliver Weimann
 
 

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

Roughly 10 years ago, in 2007, I have founded my first digital startup. Ever since then I was sneaking into new business models and have accompanied corporates to set up startup programs. Since the year 2010, I got in close contact to roughly 200 startups and finally decided to work with 12 of them. And still I am thrilled to the power and excitement of a new idea and promising individuals, potentially a team.

I personally belief we are in the middle of the (minimum) third wave of ecommerce – after getting digital and reaching all niches. Nowadays startups in this fields needs to concentrate more on processes, complex business models and multi partner achievements. To combine commerce and logistics – offline and online will (hopefully) offer vast opportunities even in connection between startup ideas and teams within the accelerator. The commerce backbone in Mülheim and logistics expertise throughout the whole area make STARBUZZ a boost for startups.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will 360° Online Performance Group and ruhr:HUB support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

As managing director of ruhr:HUB (an initiative of the ministry of economics and major cities of the ruhr area for digitization), founder of RuhrSummit (biggest startup conference) and investor and co-founder for startups with 360 Online Performance Group I would describe myself as an enabler for these rising scene in our region.

My focus as a mentor for startups always lies in business modeling and preparation of market entry. As an experienced marketing consultant for corporates I concentrate on developing the startup story internally and externally. Kind of having made or at least seen virtually every startup mistake over the last 10 years I reflect my role in pushing further to uncomfortable spots and helping to focus on relevant aspects.

My job at ruhr:HUB is building bridges between matching partners – no matter if startups, corporates, colleges or investors. I surely will use the class of STARBUZZ to promote them on a B2B level to interesting corporates. Additional I will contribute my personal network to accelerate promising teams and ideas.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

STARBUZZ combines three relevant assets! 1. a dedicated mentor portfolio from different backgrounds with huge networks. 2. a backing by relevant companies and investors which enables startups to level up. And 3. a challenging program and external coverage – all free of charge!

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

If I could play the wishing game, I would love to see startup teams dedicated to their mission. Fully equipped with a powerful idea but more important with internal skilled developers and a sales talent on board.

 

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Interview with mentor Sebastian Labud
 
 

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

I have committed myself as mentor to learn about new ideas and to get to know the people behind these ideas. Havin been an entrepreneur myself, I want to share my experience with founders and support and advise them in their endeavors.

The region in which STARBUZZ is located is extremely interesting due to a huge number of renowned food and logistics companies. Most of these companies are highly interested in digitalization, new business models and talented people that challenge existing concepts from different angles.

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

We bring a lot of experience from different areas – e.g. logistics, sales, procurement – to the table. Ideas and specific topics that startups deal with can be addressed in these areas. We can also offer investment opportunities for promising startups that have a fit with our strategy. Having established my first own company twelve years ago, I can easily put myself into the situation of founders and help them with my experience.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

STARBUZZ offers a wide range of support that is especially needed in the first year of setting up a company. The program adds opportunities to test products and technologies with leading companies that partner with STARBUZZ. To sum it up: The digital commerce accelerator is an ideal springboard for ideas.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

I expect that the startup teams follow their idea with passion and full commitment. They need a burning devotion to their idea, working day and night on its implementation.

 

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Interview with mentor Marcus Gropp
 
 

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

Innovation is one of the main drivers in our ecommerce business. In order to be competitive as service provider in the ecommerce market, we need creative input from outside our company. It is my personal interest to give input to new business fields and get new creative ideas and thoughts for our own company through supporting and partnering with startups.

I believe that STARBUZZ creates a win-win situation for startups and established businesses like FIEGE. The extensive mentor network of established companies and startups from different areas and the accumulated pool of expertise make STARBUZZ highly interesting.

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

My colleagues and I can support startups with general management advice, specialist expertise in areas such as ecommerce, fulfillment, logistics, IT and other topics. In addition, we can provide access to resources at FIEGE: whether it’s people with other specialist expertise, space, piloting projects, use cases or data.

My own expertise and focus for mentoring startups lies primarily in sales and business development, the evaluation of new service business models, end-to-end service solution architecture and in advanced data analytics.  

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

The combination of top-notch non-financial support and access to investors is a strong argument for applying to the STARBUZZ program. Financial support is of course necessary for a lot of startups, but the input from experienced experts in combination with access to resources, like customers, infrastructure etc. is what really helps accelerating the business development of a startup.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

Just two things: openness and passion!

 

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Interview with mentor Sabine Bednarzik
 
 

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

One of my friends mentioned the opportunity to be a mentor at STARBUZZ and asked me if I would be interested. Having reviewed information on STARBUZZ and my task as a mentor, I was excited to have the opportunity to help young, courageous startups to succeed in the business world.

STARRBUZZ is a unique - independent and branch-focused - accelerator, located in a region with a lot of renowned ecommerce and logistics companies.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will T-Systems support startups as partnering company of STARBUZZ?

I want to share my passion for customer-oriented activities, my strong IT and technology knowledge and my deep understanding of the e-business sector with startups. I look forward to evaluating promising startups and to provide the best coaching and methodology in order to concretize their ideas further into a validated business model.

For T-Systems new ideas and solutions are essential for growth and securing the future. Nowhere does this apply more than in the dynamic area of information and communication technology. I will give the startups an opportunity to connect to other people and groups at T-Systems. Specific business ideas incorporating state-of-the-art technological capabilities are evaluated with regard to their application readiness in a creative and agile innovation process, and using realistic use cases. An open dialog allows us to contribute our expertise in innovation management as well as in the areas of ICT, product development, process management and change management. With this approach we develop ideas into real solutions together with our customers and partners. From finding ideas to early prototypes and initial tests in a real environment, to setting up an innovative standard portfolio – our innovation process focuses on a lively and agile exchange with customers and partners.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

STARBUZZ is an independent accelerator. This is a big advantage for startups, as STARBUZZ offers a wide mix of mentors and companies, so that the teams are prepared by the accelerator program perfectly for bringing their startup to the next level. In addition, taking part in the accelerator program gives startups a special image and quality seal, which can be particularly interesting for potential follow-up investors.

One more advantage of STARBUZZ is that in NRW we have a very important ingredient of an ecosystem that other locations do not have: Established industrial companies, which together with customers, cooperation partners and investors, inspire startup innovation.

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

The startups have to solve a relevant problem - of as many customers as possible - with a digital offer better, faster and more favorably than existing solutions. 

Startups should concentrate not only on big companies, but also on small and medium sized companies. Investing in startups and cooperating with young companies can be a door opener for small and medium sized businesses to the development of digitalization, offering innovative products, sales channels and business models, as well as helping the founders of startups to develop in the areas of reputation and market access.

 

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Interview with mentor Danilo Don Ranasinghe
 
 

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

First of all, I truly enjoy the energizing experience of working together with entrepreneurial minds. As an individual and as a head for corporate innovation in logistics I mentor people, not startups. I am always on the lookout for excellent talents and ideas which focus on solving real pain points of the customer.

STARBUZZ is focusing on two industries – digital commerce and logistics – which are joined at the hip. In addition STARBUZZ is also partnering with attractive companies and stakeholders.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor?

I like the expression “change is the only constant”. Therefore, I believe it is important for founders to get feedback from a wide range of backgrounds.

Entrepreneurs are often (and understandably) blinded by love for their idea and counterbalancing this bias is beneficial. Based on my own experience as a founder and my professional experience in logistics and consulting, I believe that I can challenge ideas and raise questions from a range of viewpoints. On top of that, I am able to connect startups to a global network of social and professional contacts across various industries.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to support entrepreneurs by being a very accessible and approachable mentor to help as an honest sounding board.

Why would you advise startups to apply for STARBUZZ?

Participation is a smart business decision! You get access to knowhow, contacts, future customers and investors. All this is for free, as you don’t need to give up equity!

What do you expect from startups that apply to STARBUZZ?

Truly commit yourself.

Expect and accept failure and recognize it as a valuable lesson.

Criticism and feedback is a gift. Challenge it, but don’t take it personal!

Be prepared to pivot.

 

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Interview with mentor Prof. Dr. Marc Jansen
 
 

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

Being born in the Ruhr region, I always felt very comfortable living here. Unfortunately, our region is not yet prominently known for IT and startup businesses, although very interesting things are happening here. Therefore, I am very happy that the region now has a new accelerator that especially focuses on those topics.

What impresses me about STARBUZZ is the powerful mentor network that it managed to establish. There is a lot of experience in different directions, ranging from entrepreneurs over investors to research, making this accelerator something special.

Bringing more successful startups to the region, while at the same time developing successful startups out of the region, will be a nice and demanding effort. I am really looking forward to being a part of it.

How can you support startups in your role as mentor? How will Hochschule Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences (HRW)