The start-up process raises many questions. If you can't find the answer to your question here, or if you already need more in-depth information, make an appointment directly with one of our three start-up coaches.
Who is the GUIDE offer aimed at?
Our offers (coaching, events, qualification offers, etc.) are aimed at people in the environment of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). This includes students, employees (at chairs, institutes, in the administration and the University Hospital Essen) as well as professors.
In which areas can I receive assistance from GUIDE?
Our start-up coaches can support you as first contact persons with individual coaching, by connecting you with suitable qualification programs and events as well as with individual advice on funding for your idea.
At an advanced stage, contacts can also be established with the GUIDE network (e.g. mentors, cooperation partners) and with colleagues from the IPR-supported research transfer.
In addition, two Co-Creation Labs offer support in the practical implementation of ideas.
The Co-Creation Lab Product Innovations supports the implementation of ideas for products or intelligent materials as well as the creation of prototypes. For this purpose, a team of industrial designers and 3D printing experts with a broad spectrum of the latest additive manufacturing processes is available.
The Co-Creation Lab "Digital" deals with start-ups around sustainable service, process and business model innovations.
What support does GUIDE offer in developing an idea to business maturity?
GUIDE supports you with demand- and target-oriented offers in the further development of your idea until it is ready for business. For this purpose, please contact the start-up coach who is specialized in your subject area. He or she will guide you during the development and elaboration of your idea and will provide you with the appropriate offers and contact persons, such as the contact persons for the Co-Creation Lab Product Innovations and the Co-Creation Lab Digital for the practical implementation.
Is there a roadmap for the founding process I can work with?
There is no fixed roadmap that is the same for every start-up.
However, there is a list of stops that are usually made in the course of the founding process. Maybe you have already completed a few of them independently and some still need to be addressed or they are not relevant for you at all. If you would like a roadmap, we will be happy to create one with you.
To do this, please contact the start-up coach who is responsible for your area of expertise. Individually adapted to you, this roadmap is a helpful tool that supports your start-up project, can be dynamically adapted and does not represent a rigid structure.
What is the difference between a business model development and a business plan?
Business model development starts with your product and service idea and considers the questions of how and to whom it will be offered and how money can be made with it. Thus, the business model is developed early on and refined over time as insights and information are gained.
In the next step, the business plan deals with how the business model can be realized in the context of a company start-up, what is necessary and what must be done to achieve this. In addition to its function of verifying economic viability, the business plan also serves medium-term planning and prioritization of the course of action.
Furthermore, it is an important document for submission to credit and funding institutions, where it is often a prerequisite for applications and is used as a controlling instrument.
How do I find out whether my idea represents a business opportunity?
In order to evaluate an idea, an assessment of its financial and substantial viability is made on the basis of an elaborated business model.
The GUIDE start-up coaches will gladly accompany you in this process and help you to further develop the idea and are available to you as a sparring partner.
I am unsure about the monetization of my business idea.
This is a situation that quite a few founders face. GUIDE offers coaching and other services to help you achieve clarity at this point.
Please contact the start-up coach who is responsible for your area of expertise. He or she will be happy to help you assess possible business models and will also be able to provide you with suitable offers for further in-depth study.
What needs to be considered when communicating about product, process and service ideas?
First of all, it should be clarified whether an idea should be protected by patent law, for example. It should be noted here that early publications at least complicate, if not thwart, later patent protection. It is therefore necessary to seek advice from the IPR-supported research transfer team in good time (and in advance of the invention disclosure, which is required by law anyway). The IPR-supported research transfer scouts also provide advice on issues relating to the protection of trademarks, designs or software.
If patenting is useful and necessary, written publications should therefore be avoided. Otherwise, nothing stands in the way of publication in principle. In the case of commercial use, however, sufficient time should be allowed to make it difficult for potential competitors to imitate it at short notice.
In general, when communicating sensitive information, it should be noted that this should only be done with persons who are subject to a confidentiality obligation, such as employees of the UDE, among others.
How do I clarify with the university whether and how the knowledge from a research project can be used?
Please contact us for this purpose. In a joint discussion, we will clarify which advisory office is responsible for your request and put you in contact with them (e.g. our contact persons for IPR and exploitation issues).
Do I have to quit my job at the university for the start-up?
No, you do not have to quit your job at the university. Depending on the goal you are pursuing with your start-up, the role you want to play in the company, and the workload involved, it may make sense for you to focus fully on the start-up and work full-time in your company. However, it may also make sense for you to continue working at the university and work part-time in your business. This must be considered on an individual basis. We would be happy to support you in weighing these exciting and complex aspects of your start-up, so that you can align further planning for the implementation of your start-up project with this.
Can I carry out the start-up parallel to my studies?
The answer to this question depends on the complexity and timing of your start-up and your studies. Both your studies and your start-up project are time and labor intensive, but with good planning, both the continuing education for the implementation of your project and the start-up itself should be easily compatible with your degree at the university.
We will be happy to coach you on this topic and support you in this regard, among other things, through qualification programs that accompany your studies, such as sbm, and we will be happy to bring you together with mentors who, thanks to their own experience, can help you find your personal balance for both projects.
When and for what purpose does a business plan need to be in place?
You will probably need an elaborated business plan at the latest when contacting financiers. However, we recommend that you put your plans in writing beforehand in order to structure your thoughts and monitor the start-up process. This way you can map the ideas behind your startup and the assumptions for the economic perspective and create a common level of discussion for funders and project partners. Also, writing down your idea and planning it in the form of a business plan helps to bring new aspects into focus and consider them early on.
The creation and iterative processing of the business plan is a time-consuming matter. You should bear this in mind for dates or deadlines already envisaged in order to have a version of your business plan available. The specific point in time when the business plan is needed depends on your individual project and its implementation. Therefore, as soon as you have worked out your business model, it is recommended to start writing it.
Once you have created a business plan, it is advisable to keep it up to date on a regular basis. In this way, the actual development of your start-up can be put in relation to your plans and you can hold discussions with financiers or project partners at short notice at any time.
What information should a business plan contain?
There are many guides for a business plan, but it is important with which goal the own plan is written. If it is purely an overview and milestone planning for yourself, then it is sufficient to note down what is relevant for yourself. If, on the other hand, the business plan is required for submission to third parties (e.g. investors or competitions) and is written with this goal in mind, information should be obtained in advance as to whether there are any requirements for the building blocks of the business plan and their sequence. Business plans can therefore vary in type and scope and should be tailored to the individual case.
As an orientation for business plans, the following building blocks should be considered in principle, which describe the project in a clearly structured, precise manner that can also be understood by readers from outside the field:
- Executive summary (brief summary of the project and business plan)
- Company profile
- Industry and market
- Marketing and sales
- Opportunities and risks
- 3-5 year financial plan (written and tabular)
An overview of the above-mentioned components and their contents can be found in our guidebook (currently only available in german), which will provide you with initial assistance in developing your business plan. Despite the various aspects, a business plan should not be too extensive in terms of the number of pages.
Will I get support in developing the business plan and feedback for revision?
The business plan is an important milestone in your development as a founder/team. Do you have questions or uncertainties about the business plan? On the one hand, we recommend that you take a look at our business plan guide (currently only available in german) and on the other hand, that you contact our start-up coaches. By contacting us at an early stage, we can provide you with support in developing and editing your business plan in a timely manner and in line with your needs. If a complete business plan is available and an initial meeting has already taken place, we will be happy to read through it and provide you with feedback. If there is a need for revision or additions, we will be happy to point out further support options.
Which subsidies are available for my start-up?
This question cannot be answered in a blanket manner, as many factors influence the funding programs available to you. Therefore, we would like to invite you at this point to make use of our subsidy consulting service. Please feel free to contact our innovation manager Till Schlusen, who is mainly responsible for advising on subsidies and who will show you the available options in a personal conversation.
I have heard that there is a scholarship for start-ups at the UDE, is that true?
Yes, there are start-up grants to help you implement your start-up idea, as well as other funding programs. We can help you find all the funding programs and startup grants you can apply for.
For this purpose, please contact our innovation manager Till Schlusen. He is mainly responsible for advising on subsidies.