How can students get first insights into real business processes and function as young entrepreneurs and sell their products to interested customers at a trade fair? The practice firm – concept is one way to do so. Students from vocational schools create and manage virtual businesses. This includes everything, from conducting market research for their product idea, the creation of a business plan and the set-up of a marketing campaign to the interaction with customers/other virtual businesses all around the globe. In Germany alone, there are around 500 practice firms that are centrally coordinated by the Zentralstelle des Deutschen ÜbungsFirmenRings.

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On December 3 – 5 more than 100 practice firms from vocational schools came together in Ulm, Germany to present their virtual businesses with an exhibition stand and conduct sales conversations. SAP University Alliances was onsite to position the Design Thinking methodology and existing SAP offerings to students and teachers.  This included overview presentations on the Design Thinking methodology, a Design Thinking workshop for students as well as several fruitful discussions at the UA booth with interested students and lecturers about using SAP software in their classrooms, existing eLearnings and upcoming events.

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During the one day Design Thinking workshop, around 20 students had to develop ideas for new mobile apps. The students were divided into three different groups and had to work on three different topics: mobility, events, and deals. The first group created an app to improve the mobility/ transportation experience. This included for example features such as combining existing tools, e.g. the Deutsche Bahn App with new functionalities such as displaying the route with the nicest view or inviting friends to ones route via WhatsApp. The second group worked on an event app that should accompany  the attendee of an event from finding the right event, buying the ticket, visiting the event until finally rating the event. The third group came up with ideas of how to best receive information about the latest discounts and reductions/ deals as a consumer but also how to enter this information/ advertise certain deals as a vendor. On the second day, the group results were presented to the audience on stage.

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