Dirk Baranek

Finalist | Greenbird (Norway): Software for the digital power utility

CODE_n15 Finalist Greenbird from Norway is offering power utility companies the application Metercloud to provide ways to integrate smart metering and smart grids into existing business applications – at a reduced cost. This allows Greenbird and its integration service Metercloud to enable power utility companies to become digital. We talked to Thorsten Heller, CEO of Greenbird, about the details.

More information about Greenbird: CODE_n CONNECT | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Where did your idea for the company come from?

Thorsten Heller, Greenbird: The founders of Greenbird had many years of experience as integration architects and integration developers for the biggest power utilities in the Nordics. Experience from these companies revealed that most utility companies start from scratch when they develop and implement integrations for their business applications. This approach translates into high-risk projects with regard to costs and time to market. Years of experience from the utilities industry also showed that the business processes required for implementing smart metering and smart grid technologies are very similar among utility companies. These findings were the foundation for establishing Greenbird and our core service Metercloud – a big data integration service for smart metering, smart grids and the Internet of Things.


Dirk Baranek

Mitgründer.com supports you in building your team on solid ground!

Success begins with a great founding team.

Founders are the literary “foundation” of a start-up, decisions about with whom you want to build your company are THE major factors of success. Great teams can make a bad idea fly, but not the other way around.

Mitgründer-LogoYour co-founders’ qualities, expertise and flexibility are responsible for the actions your start-up team can and will take and therefore determine your start-ups future path. Decisions like: “How do we do it?”, “When will we do it?” and “Will we do it at all?” are a matter of consensus in your team.

So choosing your co-founders carefully and wisely is very important. Experienced founders invest time in building great and complementary teams, sometimes even before they decide about which business idea to follow.

At mitgründer.com our users have the possibility to get in touch with thousands of potential co-founders and they search in hundreds of cofounder ads for their complement (You!) for great founding teams.


Felix Jansen

Founders in a Castle: CODE_n at the first founders’ forum in Luxembourg

With a population of about 540,000 people, Luxembourg doesn’t even rival major German cities like Stuttgart in terms of size. That said, the grand duchy is home to a lively startup scene. And since the geography of the market is quite limiting, young companies based in Luxembourg tend to be open to the outside and often look for business opportunities abroad. One initiative that supports local startups in their development toward international markets is the non-profit organization Europe4Startups.

And it was the team assembled by the young multiple founder Jérôme Zois who hosted the first founders’ forum and startup conference in Luxembourg on October 19. At this event called Founders in a Castle, we introduced ourselves as partners and presented CODE_n. The concept: Take up-and-coming startups from Luxembourg, a number of their most exciting counterparts from the rest of Europe, and investors from Paris, Brussels, London, Berlin, Israel and Silicon Valley. Then bring them all together at two of the most exclusive locations in the country. The Mudam, or Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, was chosen for the pitching session. Then came a stop at House 17 – the exclusive “private members club” – for the startup party of the year.  More…

Dirk Baranek

CODE_n EVENT: Growth Hacking with the StartUpBus Germany

StartUpBusAt 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, we’ll all be eagerly awaiting the StartUpBus Germany. Approximately 30 “Buspreneurs” will then be welcomed, each ready to present the strategies they’ve developed while en route to us. The strategy topic: how to ramp up their business models. We also plan to highlight the topic of collaboration between startups and corporations. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to attend!


StartUpBus Europe: Hackathon at 100 kph
6 buses are traveling across Europe for three days, following various routes on the way to the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The event has been organized as a hackathon. During the bus ride, passengers will work up their startup idea – from the initial concept to the finished product, including the business model. The winner will be announced at the final stop in Vienna.

Bus stop at CODE_n: Sunday, Oct 26, 6:00 p.m.
The German StartUpBus will make a stopover at CODE_n @ GFT Technologies in Stuttgart on Sunday evening. The event will look primarily at scaling and growth hacking: How do startups really get off the ground; that is, how can they be prepared for a mass market? And how could collaboration with established companies contribute to this?


Philipp Renger

#IoT comes to life
We visited the Hardware Hackathon in Dublin

A couple of years ago, it would have been impossible to build an electronic device from scratch in just three days – or at least it felt that way. Nowadays, this is a reality. In fact, it happens all over the world, all the time. Thanks to 3D printers, CNC machines, cheap and easy-to-use solutions like the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi or the Intel© Galileo, plus the availability of inexpensive sensors, people can transform their ideas into smart, connected products – working prototypes – all in a matter of hours. “IoT is at a tipping point right now – idea, product and market are closer together than ever. All you need is smart people with ideas,” says Philip Moynagh, Intel’s senior vice president regarding the Internet of Things. Ideas and smart people we found at the Hardware Hackathon in Dublin.

Hardware Hackathon Dublin


René Klein

Crowdfunding – Raising the Bar for Business Angels and Venture Capitalists

Following the Fall 2011 launch of crowdfunding on the Seedmatch and Innovestment platforms, this new-fangled financing instrument also took to the stage at the CeBIT trade show this year. Topping the bill at the event were two business startups, Changers.com and carzapp, the two recipients of coveted crowdfunding services from Seedmatch at the CODE_n contest. Both young companies have already reaped the rewards of crowdfunding: carzapp successfully revved up 363 investors with its concept and attracted capital worth €250,000. As Changers.com prepared to lower the curtain on its funding drive on May 2, 2013, it had 151 small investors offering a total of €80,750. In both cases, investors within the “crowd” participate via an equity-like shareholding loan (a German “partiarisches Darlehen”). Accordingly, every investor is entitled to a share of the startup’s commercial success.

René Klein - CEO of www.fuer-gruender.de

René Klein – CEO of www.fuer-gruender.de

The usual approach taken on other platforms is based on classic “dormant equity” holdings. The German Efi think-tank (the Expert Commission on Research and Innovation) looked closely at this area for its 2013 annual expert report, concluding that, “In the opinion of the expert commission, equity-based crowdfunding could play an increasingly important role [in the future], especially during the early-stage financing of startups.”

This is also underscored by recent data from our crowdfunding monitor issued on March 31, 2013. In the first quarter of 2013, seventeen startups attracted no less than €1.8 million via crowdfunding platforms. The total value of all 67 funding rounds conducted to date in Germany is thus more than €6.5 million. There are a whole host of platforms for startups to choose from, with Seedmatch, Innovestment and Companisto topping the list of larger platforms. More…

Janina Benz

Priti Ambani: “Sustainability is a life-long process”

Priti Ambani is a thought leader and prominent writer on social and environmental enterprises, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses. She is the Managing Editor of Ecopreneurist, a notable business blog. Specializing in her ability to work with impact organizations from the ground up, Priti has developed successful business and communications strategies for fledgling start-ups, social and environmental enterprises. She also serves as a sustainability consultant at GreenDen Consultancy and advises on corporate social responsibility and the triple bottom line. Priti is a Professional Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Janina Benz: What’s changed most about sustainable business within the last five years?

Priti Ambani: The last five years have been quite transformational. The recession made many people re-think sustainability in extreme ways. Some business owners distanced themselves from their “good business” goals as a cost-saving measure, while others doubled down on environmental and social responsibility as a way to increase the bottom line. The conversation has moved on from “what can I do to help our environment?” to “what can I do to sustain my business?” and the answer has involved being more efficient with resources and minimizing waste. Some new trends have emerged that replacing traditional business models. More…

Janina Benz

Professor Doctor Günter Faltin: “Work on your concept until you are completely convinced”

CODE_n Prof. Dr. Gunter FaltinAs the head of the Department of Entrepreneurship at Freie Universität Berlin, Professor Dr. Günter Faltin is regarded as one of the top German experts in the field of Entrepreneurship. Prof. Faltin initiated the Berlin-based “Entrepreneurship Lab” and has been a business angel for many successful startups. He himself is the founder of  Projektwerkstatt GmbH and initiator of the successful Teekampagne (Tea Campaign).

Janina Benz: What led you to entrepreneurship and teaching?

Günter Faltin: Back in my school days I enjoyed reading about Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Joseph Schumpeter; it was obvious that I would study economics. But to my amazement, the subject that had seemed to me so interesting and compelling turned out to be dry and boring at the university. The fascinating figure of the entrepreneur that I had gotten to know with Schumpeter had been replaced by the principles of profit maximization, mathematics, and abstract models. When a few years later I received an invitation to teach at a university, I swore I would teach economics differently. And how could one do this better than by founding a company as an example?

JB: What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

GF: Creating a company from a concept restores the marketplace as a competition of ideas. It is useful to society because it draws attention to itself through good and reasonably priced products. It doesn’t increase inequities, but can lead to a more equitable distribution of income and wealth through broader participation in entrepreneurial activity.

JB: Are there any major differences between how it is perceived in different countries?

GF: One main difference we find in comparison to the English-speaking world is that research there distinguishes between the tasks of the entrepreneur and those of managers. This differentiation is absolutely necessary because the demands on entrepreneurs and on managers are so different: whereas entrepreneurship is a creative activity, business administration requires the ability to organize, to control, and to manage.

JB: Do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made?

GF: Many people may think they are not suited for entrepreneurship because they can’t get excited about the world of money. They are of the opinion that they weren’t born to be a startup entrepreneur because they’re not pushy enough and lack the drive. This is not true. It’s the idea that makes the difference! In psychologist Peter Goebel’s study Successful Young Entrepreneurs [Erfolgreiche Jungunternehmer], he surveyed 50 founders of companies and discovered that they  had only one trait in common: they brought an idea to fruition by persistently addressing the problem with a persistence that would appear to a “normal” person to be almost bizarre.

JB: What are the most important skills your students must learn?

GF: Rediscover your childlike curiosity and don’t allow yourself to be overly impressed by conventional notions, even and especially in the field of economics. If you’re able to do this, then you’ll have a good chance of replacing boredom and busyness with something better. Keep working on your concept as long as necessary, until you yourself are completely convinced by it. Three steps are important:

  1. Separate entrepreneurship from business administration. (This is the easiest step.)
  2. Come up with an idea that gets you going. Work on it, work on it some more, until you have a fully fleshed-out concept that is clearly superior to the conventions that exist. (This is the most difficult step.)
  3. Start your company from pre-existing components, instead of building everything yourself.

This last step makes you almost independent of capital. Think of it as a form of “experimental entrepreneurship” that challenges the common beliefs of how to establish a company by presenting practical alternatives.