GUIDE: How to start a startup in Stuttgart
You are a startup enthusiast or soon-to-be founder? Do you want to learn more about your local startup scene? Then we can help you out! First Momentum Ventures started a blog series about innovative student cites, to help you to found a successful startup of your own or simply learn more about the entrepreneurial spirit in your city.
You are not from Stuttgart, but live in Karlsruhe, Freiburg or Mannheim? No worries, we got you! Each month another city will be added. We promise! — So sit back, stay tuned and follow us on our company accounts via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram & support our mission to back the most ambitious pre-seed startups…
So, let’s start exploring Stuttgart!
Why Stuttgart? — The region of Stuttgart is an economic, political and cultural hub, where approximately 2.7 million people live and work. Being the birthplace of the automobile, the capital of the state Baden-Württemberg is still a worldwide leading automotive center. Besides that, the city made a name for itself as one of the largest exporting metropolis as well as the №1 high tech region in Europe. Nowadays, Stuttgart is home to global players such as Daimler, Bosch, Porsche, STIHL and Kärcher and numerous hidden champions or small and medium-sized enterprises, who compete successfully on the global market. The tight and dynamic interactions of the education facilities, research institutions, science, manufacturing sectors, and financial markets make Stuttgart one of the most innovative and dynamic regions in the world.
PART 1: Finding your path on-campus — academic chairs, programs, and student initiatives
You might know that our venture capital fund First Momentum Ventures was originally founded with the goal to provide resources to inspiring students. We always have a close eye on the activities on campus. So let us first have a look at what the different universities have to offer:
- The University Hohenheim (Prof. Dr. Andreas Kuckert), as well as the Hochschule der Medien (Prof. Dr. Nils Högsdal), have academic chairs dedicated to Entrepreneurship. Relevant courses are offered for interested students. Besides that, the University of Stuttgart offers the Master Program Intra- and Entrepreneurship.
- To meet other startup-geeks we always recommend student initiatives like the initiative for technology transfer TTI at the University of Stuttgart. Also, check out the Startup Garage at the University of Hohenheim or the HDM Generator.
- The Academic Seed Accelerator Program BW ASAP by startupbw is not really based on campus, but mainly focuses on students. The idea of the contest is to enable students to turn their visions into an innovation within 100 days.
Part 2: Leaving the university campus… Heading to the real world — incubators and co-working spaces
INCUBATORS AND HUBS
Founders and those who dream to be one someday might be also interested in the mentoring programs powered by local incubators and hubs:
- STEYG is home to a unique community. Entrepreneurs, soon-to-be founders, corporate and other friends meet at their event spaces. Besides that the offer office rooms and host events. In their rooms, you can also find the startup hub and company builder Pioniergeist. Their aim: creating an innovative ecosystem with a strong network including universities, companies and the local startup scene. Our co-founder Karl Lorey is a mentor at their contest Gründermotor, which is a superb opportunity for students to start a startup. We know — we sound slightly biased — but trust us, it is definitely worth a try.
- Accelerate Stuttgart is the perfect contact point for renting facilities and networking with the industry. Additionally, they offer Entrepreneurship Education through an accelerator program for startups and a one-stop-shop for corporate innovation and exchange between startups and large companies.
- Arena 42 offers business-creation-as-a-service. Reaching out to agratech startups they are jointly facilitated by bwcon, sotec and katana.
- code_n spaces are the innovation campus for digital pioneers and online trendsetters. What you can expect there? Rooms for rent, the coolest events in town as well as contests like the new.New.
- The Startup Autobahn links entrepreneurs with big guys in the business. They are an interface that connects startups of all development stages with industry-leading corporate partners to pilot their technology and drive the ultimate goal — a successful production-ready implementation.
- The Robert Bosch Startup Incubator was established as an internal incubator and now turned into an open platform for thriving entrepreneurs.
- Startups with a focus on social entrepreneurship should also contact SocEntBW. An initiative that fosters a purpose-driven economy.
If you are looking for coworking spaces within the city: The Coworking 0711 founded by Harald Amelung, a pioneer in coworking, has several locations in the region, in Stuttgart, Esslingen, and Herrenberg. At their three locations, the Designoffices provide spaces for offices, co-working, events and meetings. The Connectory is a co working space with a special focus on IoT innovation. The IMWERK 8 mainly addresses startups operating in the creative industries.
Besides offering co-working spaces the wizemann.space host events about social entrepreneurship and sustainability. The social impact lab, located in a wonderful park called Kulturpark Berg, is a great place for social business and impact investing.
Other — obviously not less excellent — co-working opportunities to set up your laptop: Work Republic, wild deer, Plug and Work, Profi Table Coworking, Coworking @ Die Fabrik, CoWorking Café 101.
PART 3: Networking is Key.
EVENTS IN STUTTGART AND NEARBY
Since the set events tend to vary over time, we only provide a small outlook. However, feel free to check the Event Calendar every now and then and subscribe to the Newsletter Stuttgarter Startup Digest, if you want to receive more information about the ecosystem on a regular basis. If you are trying to find your feet on the ground, you might be interested in an introductory workshop. Luckily, the IHK provides them free of charge. Additionally, DEHOGA, RKW, Steinbeis hands out Exi-Gründungsgutscheine. But, without longer overdue, let us have a look into Stuttgart’s Network Opportunities:
- Gründergrillen Stuttgart — Every now and then, the startup barbecues are hosted together with changing start-up partners. It is a nice grass-roots event to learn more about upcoming companies, but also an opportunity to network in a laid back atmosphere.
- Events, which are mainly dedicated to student founders: Idea contest Entrepreneurial Brains made on campus or the project Let US start! SQ for Founders.
- The startup and innovation festival innolution valley provides a platform for startups to network, find new team members or even an investment. Its spin-off innolution night is another opportunity to pitch your ideas or to get inspired by others. Looking for more opportunities to come in contact with a like-minded visionary? We suggest the Startup Weekend, Meetup Gründer @ Stuttgart, Meetup Startup Walk & Talk Stuttgart as well as Meetup 12min.me Stuttgart or Meetup How to start a business. The IHK Region Stuttgart organizes the events Young Business Network and Mittelstand meets Startup.
Obviously, the regional event landscape is as dynamic and ever-changing as the city itself. So, the suggestions are only based on our current (and limited) information set. If we missed the next big thing, please let us know!
PART 4: Let’s talk about money…
After fully rolling out your business idea, you will most likely reach a point where you need to raise additional money. So let’s have a look into potential venture capital opportunities:
- First Momentum Ventures — That’s us! While reading this article you already stumbled upon us. We are a young innovative fund, with a special passion for student startups. Our main goal is to provide young inspiring startups with a first pre-seed investment. Our five founders (Andreas Fischer, Alexander Kaiser, Sebastian Böhmer, Karl Lorey and Benedikt Stolz l.t.r.) are always happy to get to know you and your ideas, but you can also contact our Stuttgart ambassador Mario anytime! Btw, thank him for helping me out with this article — but most importantly: Let’s get in touch. We are really looking forward to hearing from you!
- LBBW Ventures — As an independent subsidiary of the Landesbank Baden Wuerttemberg, LBBW Venture invests in early and late growth stages of companies. Apart from financial support, they offer access to their corporate client network.
- Grazia Ventures — Since 1998, Grazia sucessfully investes into disruptive startups operating in different sectors.
- Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH — The corporate Venture Capital Fund of Bosch invests in entrepreneurs with the vision to re-design the future of human living space.
- Looking for an investment, you may also consider the various family offices or business angels located in Stuttgart. Fellow Medium Publisher Feliks Eyser is one of them. Excuse the name dropping, but his exit from RegioHelden was pretty impressive. If you need help to find the right investor, as you are a later stage startup that does not fit our portfolio, please feel free to contact us and we will figure out what we can do for you!
The startup ecosystem is the perfect playground to start a company of your own. Especially as a young founder or student, this is the best time in your life to be brave and try out something new, something unfamiliar and daunting. Whether you’re looking to simply learn about entrepreneurship or dedicate a few years to build that next unicorn, just remember to have fun on this journey! Allow yourself to try, to fail and to try it again. But you will be surrounded by the best support team you could ever wish for: Peers as passionate and brilliant as you are.
So, are you up for the challenge?
Note: Did we miss some important touch points for student founders in Stuttgart? Let usknow! We are always happy to learn more about regional startup ecosystems.
As a pre-seed investor, First Momentum Ventures helps your startup to gain its first momentum by backing you with a first investment as well as world-class mentoring, a strong community, and the required know-how. Read more at firstmomentum.vc, stay up-to-date with our newsletter or get in touch through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.