A user’s guide to starting a business: The Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg turns 25 / 2nd Meet-up at the Technology Park Adlershof on 13/02/2020

08. January 2020

A user’s guide to starting a business

The Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg turns 25 / 2nd Meet-up at the Technology Park Adlershof on 13/02/2020

BPW Orga-Team © WISTA Management GmbH

The organizing team of the BPW: Madlen Dietrich, Christina Arend and Anna Schnekker (from left to right) © WISTA Management GmbH

On 13 February 2020, founders, entrepreneurs and jurors will meet up at the 2nd Meet-up of the Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg (BPW) in Adlershof. One of the most well-known business plan competitions of the region has just turned 25.

It all started with 30 proposals in 1995. Naturally, they were all handed in on paper back then. Most applicants would stumble into the office with their documents just before the deadline. This is not the only thing that has changed.

The Business Plan Competition Berlin-Brandenburg rests on three organisations: Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB), Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB), and Unternehmensverbände Berlin-Brandenburg (UVB). All three organisers agree that what makes the competition so special is that it spans two German Länder.

The competition is like a user’s guide to starting a business. Step by step, the applicants develop a functioning business plan. They are supported with coaching, networking events, and seminars. The best business concepts are rewarded with a prize money of 50,000 euros. ‘A clear framework and fixed periods of time, networking with other start-ups, and feedback from the jury are the added value for many of our applicants,’ summarises Christina Arend from the ILB.

‘It’s a great event to get started. We enjoyed it very much. It was like starting to put together a puzzle and gradually working towards the full picture,’ says Maik Störmer from the start-up dive solutions GmbH. Störmer and his co-founders first got to know the competition at one of the meet-ups that take place at the Technology Park Adlershof. They had planned to write a business plan to apply for funding. ‘We were incredibly green when it came to running a business and started off by visiting a beginner’s financing seminar at the BPW.’ Dive solutions GmbH was successful across three competition phases and now has 15 employees. They invested their entire prize money into kickstarting their company.

The applications are evaluated according to a rigorous set of criteria. The key point is how realistic it is to bring the idea to market, receive funding, and to find business partners.

‘Out of all the companies who took part in BPW, 2,047 are still around today and have created over 15,000 jobs,’ says Anna Schnekker of IBB, summing up the competition’s success. In 2019, they received 428 applications. Other important aspects of the BPW are the canvas competition and sustainability. ‘This is something the BPW pioneered. Every applicant concept is checked for aspects of sustainability by default.’

The topics handed in by the start-up teams reflect current business trends. Last year was all about energy issues, before that applications focused on food, lifestyle, and process management.

The founders also changed over the past 25 years, says Madlen Dietrich of UVB. ‘The participants are much more confident than they were a few years ago. This is particularly clear with the pitches, which are much more thought-out.’ She enjoys tracking the development and collaboration of the young companies. She throws another important aspect in the mix: ‘In addition to the many partners working in BPW, it is important to highlight the contribution of the business centres at the universities. The high quality is also a result of their support for the teams.’

All three BPW organisers agree that successful founders usually have a good mix of people on the team. Every team needs somebody to ‘push the idea forward’ and at least ‘one crazy person’, as founder Maik Störmer puts it. Additionally, a business needs somebody who is good at developing, good at selling, and good at being in the spotlight. The first phase of the 2020 Business Plan Competition has just begun. The finale will take place in June.

By Jördis Götz for Adlershof Journal


Related News

Adlershof Journal Jan/Feb 2020
Adlershof Journal January/February 2020
A place for the bright-minded: meet the Science City’s start-ups
Madlen Dietrich, Kommunikationsmanagerin
At the interface of start-ups and established companies
In conversation with Madlen Dietrich, innovation scout for the UVB Business Associations Berlin-Brandenburg