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Founders' Centre proving success story from Hamburg

Services range from personal advice to practical online tool for use all over Germany

Am I a founder and do I have the knowledge needed to set up my own company? These are just some of the questions facing business start-ups. The Chamber of Commerce Hamburg has established the Founders’ Centre/Gründungswerkstatt as a practical online tool for overcoming these hurdles. Doreen Hotze, Manager of the Founders’ Centre points to the unique selling points of the digital service: “Apart from orientation with a personality test and knowledge check, the centre also has a concrete section on planning. Registered users can draw up a business plan step by step. We give you valuable tools such as the business model canvas method or the miniplan software for planning your finances.”

Doreen Hotze, Gründungszentrum der Handelskammer Hamburg

Founding with expertise

The Founders’ Centre assigns experts to potential founders making for a unique selling point. “When users register, they are asked about the sector in which they want to become self-employed. We assign an expert to advise the user based on their inside knowledge of e.g. the property sector, the catering industry, retail or wholesale industry. The experts are on hand to answer any questions.” The direct interaction with experts helps a founder draft a business plan and they can ask questions about the text or figures that have to be settled immediately. The goal is to make the business plan ‘bank ready’ from the start. The service is confidential, neutral and free of charge. That makes the Founders’ Centre a model for success. Meanwhile, Chambers of Commerce throughout Germany are adapting our online service to suit their needs.“

Hotze is an economist by profession and worked as a business consultant for many years. She has inside knowledge of the challenges facing budding entrepreneurs: “Founders’ are often blind to certain issues at first. They focus almost entirely on their business idea and forget a bank’s demands on a convincing business idea or how the market will react to the product.” Such problems can be avoided by using the online tool.

Special challenges for start-ups

The Chamber of Commerce also has several, personal services for potential founders. Various kinds of events and workshops on taxes, franchise consultation days or special informative talks are held for founders with immigrant backgrounds. Experts give these budding entrepreneurs important tools for setting up a company successfully. Young, innovative companies and start-ups that are developing new kinds of products and services and have issues about e.g. property rights receive advice in the Innovation and Patent Centre (IPC).

“Start-ups often face have to establish access to a market for a product or service that is not yet ready. That can be a special challenge,” Hotze pointed out. The costs and length of developing a product are difficult to predict and cannot be accounted for in a business plan.” All start-ups can register and network in the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg’s XING group.

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