Today I want to talk to you about the SAP InnoJam – Coding the Future in Berlin. This was an international event, which attracted 70 students from 17 different countries. I was invited to be a guest speaker and was very excited to be a part of this event (and naturally a bit nervous since I didn’t really know what to expect).
I had the pleasure of watching these very talented individuals, divided into 10 equal teams, code and hack for 32 hours using design thinking principles and HANA to try and come up with the next cutting edge app and let me just say that I was amazed by the results. When the tables turned and these wizards had the opportunity to tap into my mind they asked me some unexpected and therefore excellent questions. The following will be a quick summary of the questions and the discussion that ensued.
How can technology be used as a change agent to improve the life of your users?
Obviously it is imperative to use state of the art technology when creating something new in the technology sector. Cutting edge technology allows you to save time and get the results you want. But this is just a means to an end, because the end-user doesn’t care what technology you’ve used to create the product. What they really care about is that you’re able to deliver what they are looking for and ideally what other, similar products on the market are missing. So user experience is one of the most important information you can get and it is very important to focus a lot of the capacities on that. Design thinking is therefore the future, as it focuses on what the user wants.
Assessing the risk versus the reward of founding your own Startup
Let me start by telling you this: The risk is huge. There is a lot to think about such as having sufficient financial means to pay your staff’s salary between two jobs. The next question is whether you want to improve an already existing product or create something new and different. For me, personally, it was out of the question to improve another business process, so it was obvious that I needed to create something entirely new. So when I thought about starting my own company I asked my personal counselor, who as a matter of fact is my mother, and she told me to just go for it. She told me that for a man in my age a disappointing outcome to a project or even a complete failure can be a good experience if I chose to learn from it. And she was right. I had already had the opportunity to work for and with big companies like SAP and Accenture, which helped me grow and gave me the knowledge to build something from the ground up. SAP even gives talented individuals the opportunity to be an entrepreneur, which gives you the opportunity to behave like an entrepreneur while working within a large company .I’ve decided to be an entrepreneur for now but who knows where this journey will take me. My advice to you guys is: Just go for it!!
Is the main difference between Startups and big corporations the difference in communication? And if so how could big corporations change in order to simplify communication between coworkers?
First of all it has to be mentioned that not all big corporations are alike when it comes to communication. I’ve had the chance to work in three different corporations before founding Full Control and all three corporations were different. SAP and Accenture focused more on team building and communication than the Deutsche Bank.
But it’ll always be easier to communicate within a startup because it’s smaller and usually the bond to your co-workers is stronger than within a corporation. But this 24/7 communication brings good and bad experiences. It is great to know you can reach your team members 24/7 if you want to discuss something important but on the flipside you also have to live with calls from your co-workers at 10 pm on a Sunday night. The bigger the company gets the harder it is to imitate such an intense communication, even if some corporations have introduced tools for that, like SAP JAM. Ultimately it is up to you to know what kind of a workplace you prefer. If you want to work within a small team, interact a lot and build something from the ground up, a startup will be the better place for you. If you think that you need to gain some experience and oversee a team a bigger corporation should be the better fit.
Do you think it is a bigger challenge for your Startup since there is more competition for your products than in other areas?
This is a very good question and it depends on what kind of a mindset you are in. Me, personally, I think it is much easier to pick a share in a mature market than to create a market by yourself, especially if you are a comparatively small startup company. If you pitch an idea to a bigger company it is much easier to get them to invest if you can tell them exactly how big the market is, how much the total revenue was in the last year or the most recent quarter, than to try to get them excited about a completely fictional market that you might be able to develop. If there is a lot of competition in a certain field you can be sure that there is enough money to be made there. Otherwise your competition wouldn’t be so numerous. So don’t be intimidated by good competition but rather be inspired by it.
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