Ready for Take-off

Due to the WHU Startup Academy, another generation of innovative minds is ready to start a business.

This year's WHU Startup Academy, a joint project of Jugend gründet, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, and WHU students, took place on the weekend of October 30 and 31, with 130 participants in a digital format. The goal of the event is to give highschool students their first insights into the start-up world. WHU students as well as experienced founders shared their hands-onknowledge with the participants.

This year, Erdem Nazli and WHU alumni Oliver Mickler, Managing Director of Tillhub, audibene co-founder Dr. Marco Vietor and Martin Twellmeyer, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Optilyz, enriched the event by talking about their previous founding experiences.

Apart from the keynotes, the Startup Academy encouraged the highschool students to develop their own start-up ideas in workshops. The participants worked in groups of five, each of which was assigned a WHU student as mentor. In digital "breakout rooms", they had to find their own start-up idea, develop it with the help of the "Business Model Canvas", and present it in the final "Pitch Battle". In the end, the jury, consisting of Mathe-YouTuber Daniel Jung, Franziska Metzbaur from Jugend gründet, and Pia Fischhuber from WHU Incubator, picked the idea Circle of Plastic as the winner. The idea is intended to encourage people to hand in garbage at collection points where it can be recycled.

A particular challenge for the Startup Academy team was the development of the event in an online format, where many of the program’s topicsand the personal exchange among the students themselves and with the speakers were not possible as they used to be. Regardless, alternatives were found to offer the participants the same added value as in previous years. For example by dividing the large group into smaller virtual breakout rooms, which enabled the students to get in touch with each other. The end of the Startup Academy also provided  the opportunity for networking, when students were able to ask Daniel Jung and the WHU students their questions.