WHU Entrepreneurship Center –

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit at WHU

About us

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center’s mission is to educate, inspire, and support the WHU community in fostering impassioned, purposeful, ethical, and sustainable entrepreneurship - providing an intellectual, virtual, and physical hub where people connect, ideas turn into action, and resources are allocated equitably - to build a vibrant entrepreneurial future for students, alumni, and other ecosystem partners.   

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center delivers a wide range of academic and experiential learning activities including courses, workshops, trainings, and practical programming that coordinates and expands upon WHU’s rich entrepreneurial assets - further establishing WHU as a comprehensive and connected node in Germany’s vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

 

The Entrepreneurship Center develops a vital entrepreneurial ecosystem around its locations Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

Our Objectives:

  • To promote collaboration and coordination among WHU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and partners that fosters entrepreneurship opportunities across the ecosystem
  • To expand WHU students’ entrepreneurial competencies in the classroom and beyond.
  • To maintain WHU’s institutional knowledge about entrepreneurship activities in and around the WHU ecosystem
  • To strengthen WHU’s thought leadership in entrepreneurship
  • To complete WHU’s entrepreneurship value chain with learning, guidance, and resources so founders can go from idea to market efficiently and effectively

WHU Accelerator

The WHU Accelerator is an equity-free, 7-week, intensive program for WHU students, alumni, and staff designed to provide rocket fuel for their new ventures. The program will kick off in mid-May and culminates with a Demo Day to investors in early July.

In between are three intensive phases:

  • Phase One is "Mentor Mayhem", where founders teams meet 8 mentors each day to receive feedback on their business models.
  • Phase Two is focused on "Product-Market Fit", with workshops on relevant topics and time to further develop their business ideas.
  • Phase Three focuses on "Fundraising". During these weeks, pitches are developed, and the topic of capitalization and investors is addressed.

Finally, on "Demo Day", the pitches are delivered, with an audience of business angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, and guests from the WHU ecosystem, offering a unique opportunity to possibly even receive seed funding. Top teams are then selected to participate in the WHU Investor Roadshow and Stage Two, Europe's university startup competition.

Find out more

Stage Two 

Stage Two –

Pitch your WHU Startup

Stage Two is the first pan-European competition for startups spinning out of leading European universities. Stage Two gathers early stage startups pre-selected during university rounds.

At WHU, this first local stage of the competition will take place on September 8th at 7 pm.

The Stage Two finals are held in Berlin on October 29th and the best 2 startups of each university will pitch live in front of European top investors & industry leaders. 

If you would like to compete to become Europe's top university startup, apply here. Deadline for the WHU semifinals is Sunday, July 18th, at 11:59 pm.

Find out more

Stage Two 

Stage Two –

Pitch your WHU Startup

Stage Two is the first pan-European competition for startups spinning out of leading European universities. Stage Two gathers early stage startups pre-selected during university rounds.

At WHU, this first local stage of the competition will take place on September 8th at 7 pm.

The Stage Two finals are held in Berlin on October 29th and the best 2 startups of each university will pitch live in front of European top investors & industry leaders. 

If you would like to compete to become Europe's top university startup, apply here. Deadline for the WHU semifinals is Sunday, July 18th, at 11:59 pm.

Find out more

Our team

Maximilian Eckel

Managing Director
+49 (0)261 6509-237
send email

Professor Dr.
Christoph Hienerth

Academic Co-Director
+49 (0)261 6509 261
send email
short biography

Professor Dr.
Dries Faems

Academic Co-Director
+49 (0)261 6509 235
send email
more information

Sigrid Dethloff

Operations Manager
+49 (0)211 44709 262
send email

Janine Heinrich

Marketing Manager
send email

Paul Appel

Podcast Producer
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Our partners
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News & stories

News from our Center – Find out more about our entrepreneurial activities.

Enpal, RightNow, InstaFreight, and Appinio make the top positions

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WHU alumni have already produced five unicorns this year

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WHU startup provides construction industry with innovative, digital solutions

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Enpal continues WHU's success story as a startup university

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WHU-RWTH Startup takes 1st Prize at EBS Pitch Battle

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We’re happy to share that InnoSurge AC ranked #1 at the AC² Business Plan Competition

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Our founders raised over $285M in August alone!

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Our WHU Entrepreneurship Center Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and keep up to date with our current happenings.

WHU Pitching Talents 2021

In the fall semester of 2021, all 3rd-semester bachelor students needed to create and pitch a business model for the course Entrepreneurship. In total, 50 different business models were developed by 275 students. All teams received valuable feedback from 3 mentors during an online speed dating session. In total, 45 WHU alumni participated in this online speed dating event as mentors. On this page, you can find the pitches that were selected as the most inspiring and creative business models. They highlight the newest talents within the WHU Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

Bagmeup

Moritz Homrich, Kendra Benkendorf, Georg Hausmann, Vincent Straesser, Jim vanSomeren

Paper waste is a known culprit of the climate crisis. Despite this, even new and innovative businesses like the booming last-mile food delivery sector are still reliant on paper-based packaging, the production of which harms the environment and often they end up in the trash after a sole use.  Although reusable and more durable solutions for food transportation exist, they often fall short of being used long enough to achieve their potential environmental and economic benefit, leaving paper bags as the underserving industry standard. BagMeUp will change the way we think about grocery transportation, making it more sustainable, more customer friendly and more cost efficient for delivery services. Instead of having to throw away paper or plastic bags, use our reusable polypropylene bags and return them to us- environmental benefit guaranteed!  BagMeUp provides the infrastructure needed to realize the full potential of reusable packaging solutions. Watch our pitch to find out more about us!

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Break-fast delivery

Tim Kistenpfennig, Danny Nguyen, Carlos Schaefer, Louis Scheele, Kaspar Schulze Wartenhorst

Your convenient subscription to a healthy breakfast, delivered to your doorbell every single morning. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe systematically skip their breakfast. And if not, chances are that an adequate breakfast is compensated by a sugary, unhealthy alternative. Not only does this lead to forms of discomfort such as hunger or bad mood, but it also has severe implications on the overall health. Therefore, to target the global 32 billion € market, Break-Fast has developed a solution that perfectly fits the zeitgeist. Our app offers a weekly standard or premium subscription plan for our ready-to-eat breakfast boxes which are created in close cooperation with nutrition experts – for a guaranteed nutritional balance. The boxes are produced in our ghost kitchens and conveniently transported by bikers to your doorbell in the morning – ready for you to pick up on your way to work.

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Eatery

Anna-Lena Bikowski, Franziska Nix, Daria Rafati, Finn Schmidt, Ben Seidler, Lukas Tubes

It’s a commonly known problem: restaurants are especially during public events crowded and it takes forever to order, but even longer to get an opportunity to pay for it. This is especially problematic for the gastronomies, who lose money for customers who are about to go. Therefore we came up with EATERY: a software where people order and check out with their phones. QR-Code leads to a customized website where the guest can directly order and pay. The waiter only dose the actual delivery. Guest will never have to wait for the bill again nor need to worry about cash. Restaurants will benefit from higher table turnarounds and lower waters costs. With EATERY, they can improve its image to be up to date and modern. We make it possible to gain market insights about their customer segment. Also the covid hygiene concept can be applied easier.

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Hygenius

Nils Ehrlich, Georgy Gorovoy, Viktoria Heckmann, Leon Wiemann, Vincent Wolters

In recent years, the world has been functioning quite differently than before. While the Corona pandemic hit and caused restrictions for all of us, the awareness of people on hygiene has increased massively. Taken to our everyday life, the success of restrictions depends on our discipline to execute strategies all the time. What can we do to achieve hygiene goals without the need for high self-control? One solution is Hygenius. Have you ever experienced your tooth being stained at the dentist to visualize impurity? Why not use this for hands as well? Exactly that is the idea. We stain impurity on hands to visualize physical and biological impurity to show people how to wash their hands. To do so, the soap uses color to hint at frequently forgotten hand parts. This may improve adults' washing routine, but especially children benefit from the visual feedback. Be a Hygiene Genius, with Hygenius!

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Leichtmatrose

Jonas Kebsch, Thomas Schneider, Philipp Thamer, Lukas Mert Dietsche

leichtmatrose takes care of the biggest pain point for hobby sailors and other water sports tourists on the North- and Baltic Sea: The search for a free spot in the harbor of your dreams for your perfect and relaxed vacation on the water. Until now, the principle of "first come, first served" has always applied in sailing ports - sailors have always had to hope for a free berth without being able to foresee in advance whether a port would be full or empty. With the intelligent and already proven sensor system from leichtmatrose, it is now possible to observe the berth situation in a harbor in real time, book the perfect spot in advance, and enjoy a stress-free day on the water.

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Passed

Henning Austrup, Adriana Heimbrock, Daniel Matlin, Jonathan Peters, Frederik Strommenger

Passed is an app that lets you exchange tickets for selected events with an app. People that cannot use their ticket anymore for various reasons put their ticket on the marketplace and sell it to those that weren't able to get one. The price of the ticket depends on a set of regulations by Passed and the event organizer. Passed will generate revenues from a fee charged on every ticket sold via the platform and from the companies that the tickets are from. The app doesn't only create value for visitors of concerts or soccer games but also for companies since it enables them to use their facilities to their full capacity and thus maximize profit.

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Plastic offsetting

Kilian Franke, Peter Lange, Fynn Mostert, Thassilo Seeboth, Luca Cermesoni, Estelle Langer

The app's aim is to create an opportunity for people to compensate their daily plastic consumption and carbon footprint, that is something that seems to be inevitable nowadays. First, the costumer scans his receipt in the app, which shows the amount of plastic that is bought and consumed. In this way the costumer can offset his plastic consumption by donating to the app the equivalent amount of money. The start up will retain a fee and the remaining part will be donated to other selected social companies and start ups that fight against plastic pollution.

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Screensquad

Paul-Justus Busch, David Gazarian, Alexandra Huchzermeier, Tessa Pohlschroeder, Till Woest

ScreenSquad is a platform to virtually meet up with your friends and challenge each other to a more productive day with less time spent on your phone and social media. The main problem for young adults and students nowadays is the constant distraction and loss of focus due to the continuous urge to check your smartphone and the fear of missing out. ScreenSquad offers a solution to this problem in a gamified way. Friend groups can set a common screentime target, pick-up goal, and a monetary reward within the app. ScreenSqaud provides the group with valuable insights on their performance compared to their friends based on three factors – screentime, daily pick-ups, and used apps. Users are forced to check their smartphones less often and more efficiently to receive a good score and carry less fear of missing out since their friends are part of the game. In the end, the best ScreenSquad performers in the friend group can receive a monetary reward based on what everyone decided to pay in.

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Vagant

Peter Kasper, Christoph Meyer, Nele Pottbecker, Kira Scheunemann, Jasper Vogelsaenger

This is Vagant, the new online fashion platform for all non-European brands. Many people will be familiar with the problem. You want to buy clothes from a modern and trendy brand that can be seen all over Instagram and TikTok on the most famous influencers. But when you complete the order, you get a big surprise. The cost of shipping, fees, and customs is almost higher than the actual order. Additionally, returning clothes that you do not like or that do not fit is very expensive, complicated, and in most cases not worth it in the first place. Vagant solves this problem and imports the trendiest and most popular garments that are not available in Europe and offers them on a single online fashion platform. This makes it possible to order individual clothes within Germany without paying the immense costs of fees, shipping, and returns.

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Our student clubs

Reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit –
Setting standards in the start-up scene.

3 Day Startup
WHU Founders Bootcamp

40 creative students, three days, one goal: start your own company. Can you set up a business in just three days? Yes!

www.3dsgermany.com

Business Meets Tech
WHU's Tech Initiative

WHU’s first initiative revolving around tech and IT. We aim towards encouraging students with a business background to engage themselves with tech-related topics.

www.businessmeetstech.de

Enactus WHU Vallendar e.V.
Vision A, Help-O-Mat and more

Enactus inspires students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. The Enactus WHU Vallendar team is recognized as a non-profit organization, currently engaging in international and national projects.

www.vallendar.enactus.de

IdeaLab!
WHU Founders' Conference

Established as Europe's premier student-led founders' conference, our annual event unites experienced founders, vcs, investors as well as ambitious students for the interactive exchange of ideas and experiences.

www.idealab.io

SensAbility
The WHU Impact Summit

SensAbility is Europe's largest student-organised, non-profit conference on social and sustainable business. The name is derived from the words "sense" (perception) and "ability" (ability to achieve something in particular) and once again emphasises the aim of sensitising people and companies to social issues and thus motivating them to act sustainably.

www.sensability.de

SmartUp!
The WHU Entrepreneur Network

SmartUp! hosts regular on-campus workshops with experienced entrepreneurs, and organizes yearly tours to Berlin, Cologne, and Munich to visit selected set of startups from various industries.

www.whu-smartup.org

Start-Up Academy
by Jugend gründet & WHU

The annual conference gives students from all over Germany basic knowledge about startups and impulses for self-employment. With >150 participants, we offer a platform for exchange and the realisation of ideas. 

www.startupacademywhu.de

WHU Entrepreneurship Roundtable
An Initiative of MBA students at WHU

We offer a platform to discuss business ideas, practice pitching and receive expert advice on startups and entrepreneurship.

www.whu.edu/er

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WHU Entrepreneurship Center –
Our key activities.

Research & Education

The field of entrepreneurship is characterized by a very dynamic development of participating actors, organizations and available tools and methods. Within the framework of a research-based business school the WHU Entrepreneurship Center contributes to the diffusion of top tier research and practically oriented case studies: It connects the entrepreneurship related chairs and research activities to WHU’s stakeholders and business partners. We perform research that is based on current phenomena and real needs of businesses and help to solve some of the challenges that individual or corporate entrepreneurs face.

Within the ecosystem of startups, various types of investors, corporate firms, and future entrepreneurs need to know how to develop, accelerate and scale business ideas. Corporate managers need to know how to identify, deal and successfully cooperate with startups. Financial investors need to know when to invest in startups and how to control their progress. Future entrepreneurs need to know when to close a deal with an investor or corporate, when to pivot their venture or expand internationally. Thus, every actor involved in this steadily evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem heavily depends on the available knowledge and information.

Entrepreneurship is a highly fragmented field of research. A common perspective in entrepreneurship that has emerged over the last couple of years is dynamic and process oriented. It focuses on two main aspects along the development of new ventures: the presence of entrepreneurial opportunities and of entrepreneurial individuals. Another important and recent trend in entrepreneurship research is dealing with entrepreneurial business models and business ecosystems. While we are interested and engaged in various aspects of entrepreneurship, we specifically focus on these topics: 

  • Open Innovation and Business Ecosystems
  • Corporate Entrepreneurship and Transformation
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship
  • Female Entrepreneurship

Our partners can participate in and shape such knowledge creation by facilitating Bachelor, Master and MBA thesis topics or supporting PhD level research. In that respect, the role of the Entrepreneurship Center is to generate, and diffuse research and information about latest tools and methods to identify promising business ideas and various approaches of cooperation between investors, incumbent firms and startups. For our corporate partners and regional organizations, the Entrepreneurship Center offers facilitation of roundtable discussion as well as specific workshops and executive education training.

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Supporting & Coaching

WHU has always strived to build a creative and innovative environment, which inspires others to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. For future entrepreneurs and startups, the Entrepreneurship Center can provide valuable information about firm internal entrepreneurial topics and search processes, selection criteria, financing opportunities and cooperation frameworks. For Center members and strategic partners on the corporate side, the Center can contribute to identifying promising ideas and individuals and thereby fuelling the deal flow processes.

We advise corporate startups and innovation managers looking for latest tools and insights to test and develop their novel business ideas. We support our partners in fostering internal entrepreneurship culture and creativity or in sourcing for innovative solution via external Open Innovation projects with students and startups.

For early-stage WHU student and alumni startups, WHU Entrepreneurship Center offers individual coaching and support in the prototyping and idea-testing phase. Later-stage startups can benefit from numerous offerings such as co-founder search opportunities, access to regional and global WHU network and specific information. Together with the WHU Incubator, the WHU Entrepreneurship Center organizes startup roadshows and facilitates individual matching on demand.

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Ecosystem Building

WHU has had a large share in making Berlin one of the most prominent startup hubs worldwide. We are well connected to entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, accelerators and individuals who are part of the exceptional entrepreneurial network of WHU. The Entrepreneurship Center further aims at building future startup, corporate and university connections and thereby developing a vital entrepreneurial ecosystem around WHU and its locations in Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.

We are especially interested in building interdisciplinary startup teams and matching business students to students from technical and natural science research institutions by establishing and developing contacts to other universities such as RWTH Aachen and Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf. In the form of lectures, conferences and specific events at WHU, the Entrepreneurship Center provides opportunities for all actors of the ecosystem to meet, engage and collaborate, thereby jointly shaping the future development of the startup scene in Germany and beyond.

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Fostering sustainable business practise and social innovation is another area where WHU Entrepreneurship Center takes an active role via interdisciplinary research and open Innovation projects with academia, industry and policy makers.

We want to demonstrate that entrepreneurship and innovation can be tools that can help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and encourage our student founder as well as corporate partners to engage in knowledge sharing and collaborative action.

In this regard, in January 2018, Dr. Monika Hauck took on the role as a City Ambassador for the British Social Enterprise Fashion Revolution. In cooperation with the Sustainability Department of the HSBC Germany, City of Düsseldorf, Manufactum Brot&Butter and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, the WHU Entrepreneurship Center has hosted four Fashion Revolution events to address the social and environmental issues caused by the fast fashion industry and to celebrate entrepreneurs and social innovators working to challenge the status quo. Guests of the event series, among others, included representatives of C&A Foundation, Hessnatur, Fond Of, Deichmann, Wunderwerk Fashion, Kornit Digital and Hochschule Niederrhein. All Fashion Revolution events are free of charge and aim to promote conscious consumption and celebrate sustainable entrepreneurship practise.

It is not a secret that the entrepreneurship scene in general and in Germany, more particularly, lacks female founders. Promoting and supporting Female Entrepreneurship is thus a key goal of the WHU Entrepreneurship Center. Within this objective, the Center has called to life three Female Founders Scholarships at WHU Master in Entrepreneurship program. Scholarship programs cover two semesters of the study tuition. With these scholarships, we not only want to encourage women to use their entrepreneurial potential, but also to equip them with the necessary know-how and useful networks and support to succeed after graduation.

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Get in touch

Maximilian Eckel

Managing Director

+49 (0)261 6509-237
maximilian.eckel(at)whu.edu

How to find us:

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Burgplatz 2
56179 Vallendar
Germany