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28 March 2017 - Jann Raveling

How to set up a business as a student: Bremen's Jacobs University and its managers of tomorrow


Bremen encourages its students to set up their own business

Jacobs University in Bremen not only brings together students from 111 different nations – it also teaches them how to set up their own business. And Bremen's start-up scene offers them the ideal conditions to make their dreams reality.

Students at the Jacobs University campus in north Bremen
Students at the Jacobs University campus in north Bremen © Jacobs University

Julius Schneider is one of around 1,200 talented young individuals who have flocked from all over the world to attend Jacobs University. Originally from North Rhine-Westphalia, Schneider moved to Bremen last year to study business administration at the university in the north of the city. In his very first semester he took part in the 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation' symposium that was organised in collaboration with Bremeninvest. The seminar series aims to teach entrepreneurial thinking to young students through a practical approach.

In the space of three weeks, Schneider has developed the idea for an app named 'NaviPool' with fellow students Evelyn Yee Kyeong Kim from South Korea, Raghav Natarajan from India, Stephanie Wong from Canada and Tianhong Zhang from China. The app functions as a kind of digital thumb for the hitch-hikers of the future. Using their sat-nav, drivers can inform others of where they are headed. Anybody along the way who wishes to be picked up can then contact the vehicle using the smartphone app.

The NaviPool team (second to fifth from left) at the symposium, accompanied by key players from Bremen's start-up scene
The NaviPool team (second to fifth from left) at the symposium, accompanied by key players from Bremen's start-up scene © Julius Schneider

"Many cars on the road have one or two people in them at most. The app would allow people to get around in a simple and environmentally friendly manner," says Schneider. He and his team have not only come up with the idea, but created a business model for it as well. The app would generate revenue by means of a commission, while the driver would receive a small contribution towards fuel expenses – a similar model to that of the popular app Uber.

Bremen provides entrepreneurs with knowledge and space to work

"It's an idea with huge potential," affirms Professor Sven Voelpel, who directs the course at Jacobs University. In collaboration with Bremeninvest, he invited potential investors and leading entrepreneurs to the final presentation, which was given by ten groups in total. This gave the students the opportunity to discuss their ideas with company directors.

"It was really helpful to get such qualified feedback," says Schneider, whose team claimed first place.

The jury was comprised of Bremeninvest representatives Kai Stührenberg, Deputy Head of Innovation, and Innovation Manager Erika Voigt, as well as entrepreneur Rolf Specht, Eduard Andrae of 'Trusted Blogs' and Jonas Fromme of 'Bremergy'.

The course also provided advanced training in launching a start-up. From theoretical foundations such as business planning, staffing, financial and legal matters, the students also gained an insight into the various institutions of Bremen's start-up scene. For instance, the Bremen Innovation and Technology Centre (BITZ), made workspace available for students to use, while representatives of Bremen's start-up network provide important tools for young entrepreneurs in the form of offers of help and advice, financial assistance and training opportunities.

Selfie by Julius Schneider, student at Jacobs University
Selfie by Julius Schneider, student at Jacobs University © Julius Schneider

University start-ups can expand into global businesses

Schneider would not be the first to do this. The sustainable clothing company ACSK Clothing for example, which now operates across three continents, is just one example of a successful start-up that grew out of Jacobs University.

This is no rare feat for an international institution of this kind. Only a quarter of the students are German – the rest all come from different countries. "The diverse range of cultures, skills and perspectives lead to all sorts of creative ideas. You can always find someone here who'll be interested in your idea," explains Schneider enthusiastically. It's a community without borders.

We're looking forward to seeing what kind of start-ups emerge from Bremen in future!

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