Rethinking Business and IT – Startups
2014-02-28, St. Leon-Rot, Germany, – SAP University Alliances initiated a new series of open lectures on a loose quarterly basis to intensify the dialogue between universities and SAP employees in Walldorf and St. Leon-Rot. The purpose of the series is to be an opportunity for employees to get familiar with various state of the art research, presented by professors, PhD students and startups.
This first event in the series focused on Startups, their incubation and the relationship between startups and large established companies like SAP.
The program for this event consisted of a welcome by Dr. Bernd Welz, Executive Vice President at SAP and Global Head of Solution and Knowledge Packaging, followed by a lecture given by Prof. Dr. Michael Woywode from Mannheim Business School on Creative Destruction and the Role of Entrepreneurs.
Follwing this participants saw an introduction to the startup incubator innoWerft as well as three startups introducing themselfes and their products.
Dr. Welz explained that the event series as such offers SAP a forum to bring back knowlege from universities into SAP out of the huge academic network that SAP University Alliances has globally. It thus allows SAP employees broaden their horizons and get fresh ideas. Guests in return receive real life feedback from businesses.
In his short lecture on entrepreneurship Prof. Dr. Woywode discussed who is more innovative – startups or established companies? in essence he explained that both can be innovative and mentioned positive examples and failures. A key takeaway was that technology is a driver of innovation that allows companies to find new opportunities and business. The recent dominating driver of innovation was said to be the internet.
SAP was explained to be a historic example of a company using a technology for an innovative start. SAP used software as the key technology enabling company to use software in real-time to service business processes.
Together with the audience Professor Woywode also discussed what hinders established companies to act like entrepreneurs? Ignorance and hierarchy were concluded to be main factors while key influencing factors of innovation would be spirit, desire, philosophy and the right structures.
Prof. Dr. Woywode also reflected on SAP in this context. He stated that SAP takes great efforts to stay ahead of competitors and stay innovative, e.g. d-code, AppHaus, InnoWerft, SAP Ventures Fund or the Startup Focus Program. The litmus test for the success of these effors is looking at the products. Since SAP develops great products like SAP HANA this shows the success of the efforts.
Next up was Hans-Heinrich Siemers, CEO of innoWerft, a local startup incubator. He started with an opening presentation on startups and a comparison of large and small companies. He explained that large and small companies both have unique advantages. For example that large companies are strong while small ones are especially agile.
He also shared his observation that successful companies experince a pendulum movement between innovation (autonomous teams) and efficiency (hierarchy).
He revealed that innoWerft is a local business incubator that offers the startups credibility, consulting, office space, an extensive network and proximity to SAP. In return it takes equity in the startups.
innoWerft is owned by SAP AG (42.5%), City of Walldorf (42.5%) and the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg (15%) and is located in the Partner-Port in Walldorf close to SAP Headquarters.
Its qualification funnel currently contains 70+ interested and 30+ qualified founders and they currently attend to 8 startups.
Henry Stass & Selvan Nithiy from eiKard GmbH presented their app, which is a combination of electronic business card and business directory.
It is based on a cloud-based web platform that connects companies with their anonymous customers. It is also a marketing and feedback channel. Since the app is cloud based the business cards update automatically on each user’s device.
The app is free for end users (P2P). For businesses a subscription model is in place that allows them to be listed (B2C). Additional fees occur for in-app promotions. The enterprise solution allows intra company contact detail sharing (B2B).
The current challenge of the startup is to reach a threshold market penetration.
For the future the startup considers using SAP HANA to leverage potentially large amounts of data (e.g. contact time, location, people, products…) for commercialization.
The second startup presenting was Conias Risk Intelligence represented by Dr. Nicolas Schwank. It is a consulting startup that offers risk assessment of country risks, conflict development, dossiers on current crises and a prediction tool.
Based on a database that includes 20 years of conflict research at Heidelberg university its services are based on the „Heidelberg Conflict Approach“ developed by „Institut für politische Wissenschaften“ at University Heidelberg.
They help to reduce risks for employees, project and revenue streams, and identify new business opportunities. The startup’s key assett is a global conflict database containing more than 1,000 conflicts.
Data sources for this database are newspapers, TV/radio stations, social media and stock risk indicators. These information are fed into the database by about 150 people.
In the past Conias Risk Intelligence already worked for SAP. They did 2 location studies for the CFO board area and participated in the Startup Focus program.
Finally Artur Oswald and Marco Monetta presented their startup revoprint. It is a platform for cloud printing and aims to replace home printing. Users can use it to print jobs without owning a printer by sending their print jobs to local copy shops.
Users can thus print on the go and save money because a sponsored printing is possible where an add header appears on each page. The points of print participate free of charge in the business as partners and revoprint creates new business for them.
As another value proposition the companies who are sponsors can use revoprint for highly targeted marketing. Focusing the marketing on a target group, e.g. students or a specific location are possibilities.
The price of a copy for end users depends on the shop and the number of pages per job. So far 80 points of print (copy shops etc.) participate in the platform and 2,000 print jobs were successfully completed.
The founders also shared some background information and explained that revoprint is currently only available in Germany and is a 6 digit funded startup. Looking at future business opportunities and addressing concerns on the decline of printing they stated that in Germany there are currently about 30b private and 150b corporate prints per year.
Before the event ended with a networking session it was announced that the next instance would be focused on big data and that SAP University Alliances is launching a new program called the SAP University Alliances Student Entrepreneur program to foster young founders.