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Turning Ideas into Impact: The Case of Ceres FieldCheck
Entrepreneurship / 6 May 2024
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Bachelor of Science in Management, Philosophy & Economics Class of 2026
Having achieved an ATCL in performing, Svyatoslav enrolled in ‘Likeonic’, a Cypriot fintech startup where he became a co-founder & sales manager. Following his enrolment in Frankfurt School (MPE B.Sc.), he undertook training from Bloomberg and AmplifyMe. A core team member and content producer for the student-led Venture Capital Initiative, he has since co-founded Ceres FieldCheck, an AI-startup that produces swarm robots for farmers in developing countries.

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There’s something magical about early-stage startups that reminds me of the Flammarion engraving. I’ll tell a short tale of just one such project: Ceres FieldCheck – to answer a single question: how & when does an idea turn into a startup?

The Web

On November 9th, 2023, Frankfurt School’s Entrepreneurship Center held a ‘Cofounders Wanted’ event to connect business & engineering minds through competitive projects in a fun setting.

A duo from RWTH Aachen pitched – immediately persuading me and others that they were ‘the real deal’. Soon after meeting each other, we were followed by a Hessian.AI representative to the elevator (seriously, not a pun) where he convinced us to submit an application. And like that, a new project began growing out of an entrepreneurial ecosystem comprised of networks.

“Ceres FieldCheck targets small farms in developing countries with Swarm Robots that utilize AI to automate the most difficult tasks: crop health inspection & harmful weed removal – to keep fields healthy and maximize crop yields.”

Cofounders event ‘part 2’ concluded the following day but the will to continue developing Ceres FieldCheck continued. Thankfully, our application proved successful – along with 34 other teams we’d now receive an AI-focused B2B training held at TU Darmstadt.

The Team & its Works

Challenging yet insightful, training and immense workload reshaped our business model. Had the team lacked spirit, post-midnight work would’ve been hellish. Luckily, we found each other interesting and our sessions were full of humour & self-irony.

Respect for one another’s competences made both trust and humour possible. The latter made work genuinely fun, and we began anticipating our long work sessions. Particularly because it was so enjoyable, each put in as much effort as one physically could.

Challenges were severe. Being late applicants, we lacked time while spreading thin, striving to be selected for ‘Lean AI Startup Funding’ while working to be admitted as finalists for the ‘AISC Final Pitch’. Simultaneously, we worked to show traction. Being working students, this could only be done early in the morning, during lunch breaks or at night.

Having produced the best concept paper we thought we could do, our mentor (whom we met at Frankfurt School) calmly told us that we performed way below his expectations. During our sessions, he taught us a thoroughly different method of storytelling which we had no choice but to immediately employ. A couple of months went by. Results were in. Not only were we the finalists for the final pitch event, Ceres FieldCheck was selected for the grant. Thrilled, we realized we had everything: a working product, a sound financial plan, a cohesive business strategy – and funds to execute it all.

“Huh, we’re definitely a startup now”, I thought, “idea-to-startup transition must have occurred prior”.

Positive Feedback Loops

Things fell into place. First among nine other projects at the ‘Innovator Connect Tandem’ DWIH Delhi competition, we garnered attention from IIT Kanpur, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, and more than ten newspapers, including ‘The Times of India.’

Accepted to the ‘Ideation Program’ of the ‘RWTH Innovation Center’, one of us then received an entrepreneurial scholarship while another became an EXIST Women scholar. Since then – more progress, more partnerships.

The Founder

This story is somewhat typical, so let’s return to our original question. When did the startup actually ‘begin’?

The fountainhead of any startup is within the founder. The founder understands the problem intimately, perhaps through a personal connection with it: all pain points are precisely known. Next, the founder attains expertise (fit to solve the problem) and commits to solving the problem. This is precisely when the startup is born – when the founder exerts a particular kind of ‘gravity’ which unites a team around the problem (my case) & invites external help (our mentor’s case). In other words, an idea turns into a startup when the expertise and the character of the founder begins to actively charm others into joining an amazing adventure that is yet to take place. This gravitational energy, which initially builds & continuously maintains the startup – it cannot be simulated.

Post Scriptum

Is there a problem that you’re passionate about and have the competencies to solve? Is there a secret you know that others don’t? Come on! The world is waiting.

To build your future team and become the next impactful startup co-founder, join the FS Entrepreneurship Centre community, and stay tuned for the next edition of the ‘Co-founder Wanted’ event.

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