At our Entrepreneurs club, students learn to iterate rapidly to develop their ideas. Rapid iteration and inventiveness were certainly needed in the last school year and in our club, too.
We ended the school year with creative prototyping sessions in our gardens and many knowledgeable guests. We learned about the design process from a UX designer, discovered the challenges of developing products from a product manager, and gained insight into the work of an IT engineer.
Exchange of Ideas with Experts
Many students joined our club throughout the pandemic, and we now have 16 active members encompassing students from grades 7 to 11. Our students have been working on exciting ideas, such as a way to skip lines before supermarkets in the pandemic and an app to get organized in distance learning. Students have received feedback from many experienced entrepreneurs. The year started with the kick-off of Dirk Lueth who shared with us the insights of his most recent startup Upland. Throughout the year, our students have been supported by Daniela Behrendt training them in Scrum, introducing agile working practices, and guiding reviews and retrospectives to help them reflect on their process.
Holger Ippach, accomplished entrepreneur and GISSV father, gave us even more insight into how to make your ideas a reality. Mr. Ippach presented his startup Amelia which designs and makes autonomous drones to haul cargo to and from factories. Our students learned a valuable lesson on how to address the pain points of customers and iterate rapidly. For instance, Amelia asked potential customers, like warehouse operators, to get feedback on their product. Warehouse operators explained how their forklifts couldn’t fit under the wing of the drone. In response, Amelia iterated on its product and raised the wing to adapt to the needs of its customers.
Field Trips to Startup Conferences
Yet, we not only had several guests but we also went on virtual field trips to the German Startup Night and Startup Grind, a premier startup conference. The German Startup Night event featured pitches from best-in-class German startups that have recently completed and graduated from the German Accelerator program. The virtual environment of the startup night allowed guests and our students to communicate with each other in breakout rooms and to engage in interesting conversations wherever they felt fit. This event offered an insightful arrangement of startups to present themselves to investors and students such as us. We learned a great deal about possible startup ideas and what ideas have turned into a reality outside of our school environment. On top of this, we got to chat with some high-class investors and guests ourselves and received thoughtful feedback on our own startups and ideas.
The Startup Grind Global Conference was one of the highlights of this year. We tapped into the depth of knowledge of startup heroes and co-founders of well-known startups such as Twitter, Nextdoor, and Slack. We learned different marketing strategies from cooperating with influencers to making sure your product fits your potential customers, took a look at potential trends for 2021 and met different founders and co-founders from platforms and engaged with them over a chat function, which was available for questions. We also watched the Blackstone Student Pitch which was a competition of multiple college students that had the chance to receive 500,000 dollars. Afterwards, we met and discussed the different startups and who we liked, we were also able to vote for the potential winners and discussed the biggest insights gained from the day.
Working on Startups
Inspired by all of this our students have worked on startups that create personalized fonts, building a chrome extension for students, an automated lego sorting machine, a platform to have healthy conversations in times of crisis, an app that helps to give estimates on how long you have to stay in line before supermarkets and a device which prevents water leakage through broken garden hoses. We can’t wait to see who gets their first real seed funding!
Example: GISSV's 8th grader David M. developed a prototype for his startup - a Lego sorting machine that is already able to sort Legos by color.
~ Written by Martin Lentzen, GISSV Head of Economics
Thank you to all our Mentors: Daniela Behrendt (Agile Culture Coach & eduScrum Trainer), Dirk Lueth (Serial Entrepreneur & Mentor), Holger Ippach (Tech Executive, Mentor & Investor), Shahid Chishty (Investment Advisor, Executive & Mentor), Stefanie McLaren (Product Design Mentor & Consultant)