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How my start-up idea won the Solve for Tomorrow Challenge
Master of Finance / 4 November 2021
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Master of Finance Class of 2022
Katharina started her Master of Finance at FS in 2020. She has a background in consulting and a passion for corporate finance and financial markets with a particular interest in the circular economy, technology and infrastructure.

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About four months ago I had an idea that I thought might make a great business case, and two weeks ago I won my first “start-up” competition. To be honest, four months ago I didn’t really know these competitions existed.

My first experience with the Solve for Tomorrow Challenge

My idea for improved communication between medical staff and relatives of patients transpired from personal experience – when my grandfather had a stroke at the beginning of summer, it was frustrating to have such limited access to information about his daily well-being. By coincidence, I came across the Solve for Tomorrow Challenge sponsored by Samsung and hosted by ekipa. The latter is an amazing team of people who want to ‘combine the innovation potential of the digital generation with the power of established organisations from business and politics to shape a sustainable change towards an innovative society’.

The Solve for Tomorrow Challenge in particular aims at fostering innovative ideas in the areas of sustainability, health, and education. To participate, you only needed to have a good idea, no other experience necessary. When I submitted my proposal, I didn’t think very much of it, but to my great surprise, I found myself at a two-day bootcamp with Samsung and ekipa a couple of weeks later. During the bootcamp I got to discuss my idea with several experts in the fields of VR, 5G, corporate responsibility, etc. and was able to gather some constructive feedback. After a first pitch at the end of the two days, the best five teams moved on to the next phase. For the following six weeks, each team was allocated mentors to help prepare for the final pitch that would determine the three winning teams. An intense day of workshops at the Samsung HQ in Schwalbach kicked off that process at the beginning of August. Together with my two very dedicated mentors, I used the six weeks to translate my idea into a minimum viable product, conducted research, and put together my final presentation. Working part-time and having university classes again meant that, yes, this was a tiny bit stressful.

Worth it though!   

The best three teams have now not only won a generous amount of prize money but also get to participate in Samsung’s own accelerator – the IMPACT phase. For the next six months, we will be supported by Samsung and its technologies, ekipa, technical coaching partners, as well as external experts and mentors to help us turn our ideas into reality. A great example of what can come of this is last year’s winning team – Heartucate – who have officially founded their own company.

Before this challenge, I had never actually considered starting my own business. The whole start-up thing seemed a little out of my league, and I am still not sure I am cool enough for everything that seems to come with it (I don’t particularly like playing table tennis at the office to be honest).

I am, however, very excited and grateful to have been given the opportunity to go through this process and also to apply a lot of the skills we have acquired at FS so far. To make the most out of the IMPACT phase I am now in the process of building up a small team so that together we can take my idea to the next level. Let’s see what the next six months will bring!

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Picture was taken by Oliver Selzer

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