"We help students launch ventures." This slogan describes quite precisely what the WHU Incubator stands for. Since 2012, the five-strong Incubator team has supported WHU students in building their own startups from the first business idea to the first round of financing, thereby promoting the students' ever-increasing entrepreneurial spirit over the years.
Many start-up teams seek the advice of the Incubator team in the early stages. Dennis Zeiler, a doctoral student at WHU and operational manager of the incubator, reports on the challenges of early-stage teams: "What many of our very early-stage founding teams lack is a clear focus. However, a clear focus is necessary in order to analyze one's market precisely. Zeiler says there is often a lack of a deep understanding of the target group and relevant market levers, which sometimes leads to premature scaling. Alumni can also take advantage of the incubator's offerings and apply, for example, to participate in the WHU Incubator Roadshow, which takes place every six months. During the roadshow, the startup teams pitch their projects to investors within seven minutes and, in the best case, subsequently receive new capital. Numerous successful WHU start-ups such as Artnight, Evopark, Geld-für-Flug or Kitchen Stories are among the roadshow alumni.
In addition to providing advice on specific issues, such as choosing the right corporate form, the incubator also helps to avoid typical mistakes by new founders. "Our students usually found for the first or second time, but we accompany an average of 60 start-up teams per year. We are very happy to share our experience with the students," Zeiler explains. Another important reason for students to use the Incubator is its large network. The team around Zeiler and his colleague Stefan Katzenmeier establishes contacts to companies and WHU alumni as well as to "Techies" from other universities such as KIT or RWTH Aachen. Zeiler sees a particularly important task here: For most start-ups and young companies, technically experienced employees, especially those with programming skills, are indispensable today. Networking these with WHU students at an early stage will become increasingly important in the future and is therefore a central future task for the WHU Incubator.