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V.l.n.r. Noah Abrokwa, Wirtschaftssenior Reinhard Hahn, CTO Finn Malte Hinrichsen und Philip Patschan © Yvonne Scheller

Understanding your customer crucial, says Reinhard Hahn

Former businesspeople and executives advise start-ups and SMEs - Hamburg News reports

A financial plan is central to the second meeting between retired executive Reinhard Hahn and the founders of Tunecity in a WeWork conference rooms on Axel-Springer-Platz. Many prospective entrepreneurs wrestle with such a plan despite the crucial sway of a viable budget in the initial stages of a business. Yet, Hahn was in for a surprise on this September 9. “An investor got in touch,” says Noah Abrokwa, the brain behind the Tunecity app. The potential investor is active on the international stage and wanted to inject a considerable amount.

Support from Music WorX Accelerator 2019

“But we’re not interested,” Abrokwa adds immediately, as his business partner, Philip Patschan and CTO Finn Malte Hinrichsen nod in agreement. This rejection of financial backing and what represents a major opportunity for a recently launched start-up meets with a short silence. Tunecity was admitted to the Music WorX Accelerator 2019 in late August. The sessions with Hahn, who was formerly on the Board of Executives at Deutsche Bank AG and is now a member of the Wirtschafts-Senioren-Beraten (Former Executives Consultancy), are part of the three-month support programme.

Idea for new business just start

But the partners are agreed. “We’re not ready yet,” Patschan explains. Their idea has yet to prove itself in practice. The aim is to link up musicians, venues and fans using the Tunecity app. Virtual teasers are put up using augmented reality, bringing people with similar interests together in a real-world concert in line with the Tunecity motto: “Social – Music – Gaming”. The trio are not keen on attracting an investor at this early stage, who would then have a major say in the direction the new company takes. Hahn acknowledges the risk and notes: “As a rule, investors expect a stake in return for their money. But placing a value on a new business like this is problematic. Although there are many different kinds of partnership, of course.”

Innovation crucial

The partners would prefer to seek additional public support e.g. from the InnoRampUp and InnoFounder programmes and quiz Hahn about the requirements of a successful application. “Start-ups demonstrating genuine innovation receive backing,” he replied. “This does not have to be technical innovation, but the awards committee wants to see something completely new that offers added value.” The discussion then turns to the nature of the app with which Tunecity hopes to dominate a market that does not yet exist. Hahn brings them back to the main point: “It is essential for you to understand your customers in developing a feature that Facebook and gamers have never seen before.”

Testing hypotheses on user behaviour

Abrokwa, Patschan and Hinrichsen are planning interviews to test their ideas. “We have various hypotheses on user behaviour. Through these interviews, we aim to find out which work best in practice,” Hinrichsen said. “You should come up with ten to 15 standard questions that penetrate to the core of your business idea with a view to gaining a clear cross section of information,” Hahn suggests.

Experienced consultants from every sector

After two hours, Abrokwa is pleased with the outcome. “The blend of expertise and comprehension of human motivations that Hahn has to offer was incredibly valuable to us. Apart from concrete advice and information, the session gave us direction.” The association has provided consultations almost 14,000 times in the 35 years of its existence. It has 25 to 30 consultants offering their services as coach, sparring partner or mediator across all sectors. “Our association has experts in law, human resources and marketing, as well as technical people and scientists, up to and including banking executives like me,” Hahn says. These honorary consultants also offer their network and personal experience alongside their expertise.


Retired executives offer advice

The Verein Wirtschafts-Senioren-Beraten e.V. (Former Executives Consultancy) offers a wide range of services to businesspeople, entrepreneurs, start-ups, non-profit organizations and associations and charge EUR 25 per hour in expenses. The association offers initial consultations free of charge at its offices in various parts of Hamburg.

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