NIT STARTUP CULTURE

At the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management, students can develop their own business idea or even found their own startup. In the MyProject modules they are familiarized with all relevant business tools and concepts. The NIT curriculum covers the entire process from forming a business idea to finding investors, sales, and marketing. The following overview showcases a few of the many great ideas and startups that were founded by NIT Alumni during or after the Technology Management program.


T40

More than 95 percent of local Nigerians travel regularly by bus (e.g. for work or to visit family and friends in other regions). In contrast to Nigerian airlines, which use modern technology to the greatest possible extent, booking with local road transport companies is still done manually. This leads not only to customer dissatisfaction but, also, to high operating costs for the companies.

The Business Idea

Startup Travel 4.0, or T40 for short, wants to solve these problems and make travel in Nigeria easier and more comfortable with the help of a digital booking platform. Via the T40 portal, travelers can compare offers from different providers in advance, book trips online, and pay directly without cash. It also offers ticket reservations, various payment options, and fixed timetables.

Travelers will be able to find travel information online on the site. In addition, T40 is also developing an on-board entertainment system that can be used by all passengers on their smartphones during the journey. Several films, series, and music will be offered.

Outlook

With this platform NIT Alumnus and T40 founder, Folarin Olulana, is pursuing a vision of creating a more transparent bus-transport-experience, and facilitating the process of traveling in Nigeria. Currently, tickets are sold directly in front of the bus, there is no fixed timetable, and waiting times are often long as vendors typically wait as long as possible to completely fill the space.

Bus companies are also struggling because there are no legal requirements from the state to regulate the market. With the help of this platform, companies can plan ahead and work more efficiently in the long-term.

Large Nigerian bus companies such as AKTC and ChiFaith Motors already offer their services on the T40 platform, and T40 receives a small commission for each booking. Ergo, the startup's foray into the business world is already underway. The company is currently still looking for interested investors who recognize the great potential of T40. Folarin hopes that the platform will be able to completely support itself in the near future.

Folarin Olulana (NIT Class 18)

About the Founder 

Folarin Olulana has had the idea for his startup for a long time. From his own experience as a traveler in Nigeria, he was familiar with the problems with the bus companies. For his master's degree he came to Hamburg and was overwhelmed by the impressive state of the local bus market. Immediately, he saw the possibility to help his home country improve their local transport system.

Folarin learned the tools of the trade for this business during his master's degree in Technology Management at the NIT (Northern Institute of Technology) Management. He has worked on innovative projects and gained experience in starting his own business. After graduating in the fall of 2018, he founded T40.



About the Founders

In order to equip teams with the right tools, NIT alumni Lucas Bauche and Tobias Hagenau and their co-founder Nils Czernig have been building smart tools for team organization since 2012. With their product awork and the HQ, they are able to contribute to this progress by providing the infrastructure that teams need to realize their projects and dreams.

HQLabs

HQLabs from Hamburg creates state-of-the-art business-software for project driven businesses - mainly media agencies and consultancies. The software covers the main operations from customer acquisition over project and team planning till billing. 

The Business Idea

The company was founded in march 2012 by two NIT/TUHH alumni and a third ally. The core idea was to deliver a modern software solution for the everyday business. An ambitious goal which transformed over time with arising new technologies -especially in the time of AI (artificial intelligence). As of today, the company has more than 30 employees and over 300 customers with its head office in the Hamburg Hafencity.

Outlook

After six years with the first product and well-established marketing, sales, support and developments teams, the company spend the last 9 months in creating its second product which is about to be launched publically in the next weeks. The next big step in the development of the company and completely new experience for a startup.  

During the last 6 years the team has gained a ton of experiences in the fields of building a corporate culture, finding and retaining a productive team, exploring different markets and channels, figuring out the key business KPIs and establishing growing and stable business operations for a SaaS (software-as-a-service) business.



BENTEKK

Cancer is the primary cause of 50 percent of work-related deaths in Europe. Lung cancer in particular is to blame. Many of these sicknesses are caused by carcinogenic materials. Even small dosages of gases like benzene can increase cancer risk significantly. Employees in industries like paint or plastic manufacturing, petrochemistry, or environmental analysis are exposed to such dangerous materials on a day to day basis.

The Business Idea

The NIT start-up bentekk specialised on developing innovative equipment for measuring gases. Bentekk's 'X-PID' is a portable device for detecting benzene and other carcinogenic materials in the air quickly and precisely. The device detects even the smallest amounts of these gases.

This used to only be possible in a professional lab environment. It takes about 30 seconds to detect more than 50 different substances in the air. The main use of this technology is to monitor threshold limit values in the workplace. Bentekk's goal is to make the workspace safer for employees.

Outlook

Bentekk's technology has been promising since the beginning. The young company was funded by the EXIST Gründerstipendium (BMWi) as well as by the InnoRampUp program of the IFB (Investitions- und Förderbank Hamburg).

Moreover, the team has also been supported by the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and the Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg (IFH). Bentekk has also been very successful in a number of startup competitions. For example, in 2014 the team won the INNOTECH-Award and in 2016 both the Gründergeist-Award and the Hamburg Innovation Award (Category START).

In January 2016 the company successfully entered the market and was able to successfully establish itself there. In 2017, the Dräger Saftey AG & Co. KGaA purchased 51 percent of the company. Today bentekk is fully integrated into the Dräger corporation that sells the X-PID worlwide in over ten countries, e.g. USA, Singapore and Australia.

Matthias Schmittmann and Johannes Weber (both NIT Class 14)

About the Founders

Chemical engineer Matthias Schmittmann and industrial engineer Johannes Weber founded their company bentekk GmbH in 2013 during their studies at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. At the NIT both engineers specialized in entrepreneurship and thereby aquiring the skills necessary for founding bentekk. Here, they wrote their business plan and got the support of industry experts.



Fahad Khan, Natalia Tomiyama (NIT Class 11) and Sandro Rabbiosi (NIT Class 9)

About the Founders

Natalia Tomiyama, NIT Alumna Class 11 and Sandro Rabbiosi, NIT Alumnus Class 9, met through the Northern Institute of Technology (NIT) Management network, where they both completed the Technology Management program alongside engineering studies at the Hamburg University of Technology. Together with their business partner Fahad Khan they founded their startup, NÜWIEL, in 2016.

NÜWIEL

Due to the high traffic volume, large cities like Berlin, London or New York suffer from traffic jams, dangerous emissons and noise polution. In Germany more than 100 million tons of CO2 emissons are caused by cars alone. The fine particles that are being emitted can cause many sicknesses like cancer and other lung diseases.

The Business Idea

NÜWIEL wants to free the city from traffic jam, noise, and atmospheric pollution. With a battery-powered bicycle trailer, NÜWIEL aims to improve the quality of city air without having to forgo the comfort of powered freight transportation.Their smart bicycle trailer not only relieves the cyclist of most of the workload; it also knows when to brake or accelerate.

With the help of the NÜWIEL trailer, cyclists can easily transport loads, such as groceries or small furniture, even when faced with upward slopes. Sensors measure the trailer load and are able to determine whether the route is uphill or downhill. Thus, depending on the requirement, either the thrust of the electric motor is adjusted or the triple secured braking system is activated. Up to 120 kilograms can be transported with little effort.

Outlook

From the beginning, NÜWIEL and its electrical bicycle trailer have been on the road to success. They received funding from the EXIST Gründerstipendium, InnoRampUp, and Climate-KIC. In January 2017, the young company was the only European start-up to take part in the Food+City Challenge in Austin, Texas, where it won the third prize. In the same year they once more won the bronze medal at the Gründergeist competition for business startups held by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, they outperformed 1,300 competitors and were accepted into the IKEA Bootcamp in September 2018. And most recently, the jury of the Digital Logistics Award chose Nüwiel als the 1. place winner in September 2019.



EVITADO TECHNOLOGIES

Flight safety is a top priority in Germany. Airlines must maintain their aircraft regularly. Every six to ten years every aircraft is dismantled and overhauled. The narrow aircraft hangars present a challenge. Collisions with other airplanes, vehicles or walls are a daily risk.

The business idea

"The aircraft industry has to spend several million euros a year on repairs caused by this type of damage. We at Evitado believe that we can reduce these costs significantly with our sensors," explains Andrew Moakes, co-founder of Evitado. Until now, it has been very costly to move an airplane.

The Idea

Until now, it has been very costly to move an airplane. Ground personnel walk under the wings and along the stern, directing the tug driver into the parking position. Parking can take up to 60 minutes, involving high personnel costs and risk for human error caused collosions. This process is exactly what Alex and Andrew want to change with their start-up Evitado Technologies (formerly known as Flugilo). Similar to the parking aid of a car, the device shows whether the aircraft is too close to an object. The idea is that a set of sensors will pay for themselves within a year, representing a major saving compared to the previous repair and personnel costs.

Outlook

The idea of the students has already gained some attention. At the Uni-Pitch, a joint event of Hamburg's universities for startups, they reached the final round. They have tested their first iteration with an industry partner, gaining positive feedback and valuable lessons. Furthermore, Evitado also won first place in the "IDEA" category at the Hamburg Innovation Awards 2019.

About the Founders

The founders of Evitado Technologies (formerly known as Flugilo) got to know each other at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. The two Americans studied Technology Management (MBA) at the Hamburg University of Technology in parallel to an MSc. "Andrew and I already have some experience in product development. When we met, we quickly realized that we could work well together. That's why we decided to launch Evitado," says Alexander Kasinec. 



About the Founders

Melissa, who originally comes from the US, and Barbadian-born Cherisa got to know each other during their master's studies at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. At the NIT they studied "Technology Management" (MA/MBA) in parallel to an MSc at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). "Although we were initially worried that our very similar technical backgrounds might be a problem," says Melissa Gile, "we quickly realized how well we work together as business partners." The international team is supported by Amanda Woodcock, who lives in the USA and was mainly responsible for the development of the prototype glove.

TWOFOLD

Approximately 1.3 million Americans have a prosthetic arm. However, about 60% of these patients have problems fully utilizing their artificial limb. High expectations and a lack of training quickly lead to frustration and often to a rejection of the bionic limbs. With costs between 10,000 and 100,000 US-$ per prosthesis, an unsatisfied patient is not only emotionally but also financially burdened.

The Business Idea

Even though there are a large number of different types of prostheses, the complementary therapy options offered by manufacturers are still limited. There still is a gap in the market in this area," explains Cherisa Nicholls.


NIT Alumni Cherisa and Melissa have addressed this problem and want to help prosthetic patients. The aim is to create opportunities for patients to practice at home, outside of physiotherapy. Every year, approximately 10,000 people receive an advanced prosthetic arm for the first time in the US. Melissa and Cherisa want to help these new users in particular during the difficult initial training phases.

After interviews with patients, physical therapists and doctors, the idea was born to develop a prosthetic glove with an accompanying app. The glove is connected to the app via Bluetooth. Flexible sensors in the individual fingers detect every movement and illuminate small LED lamps as soon as a movement occurs. With the app, patients can practice anything from standard movements to precision exercises, and have fun at it too. Everyday things such as holding a coffee cup, cutting food or throwing a ball are made possible again with a little training. A glove would cost about 600 US-$ - app included. Not too much, considering the high cost of a prosthesis.

Outlook

Melissa and Cherisa are currently writing a detailed business plan. The next steps would include discovering funding options and testing their prototype for a longer period of time. Whether the two will really go to the market with their prosthetic glove is still uncertain. Nevertheless, they have a tip for other potential founders: "It is important to always take an "idea book" with you. In case an idea crosses your path at university, at work or in everyday life".



FADENFELD

It takes 3,762 nails and half a kilometer of string to make a single Fadenfeld, or field of string. The works of art created by NIT alumni Nico Göhner and Alexander Sbitnew and their business partner Justus Basler are not only eye-catchingly beautiful but also technical masterpieces.

The Business Idea

"The idea took shape when Justus was looking for an individual present for his father. He wanted to depict himself and his two siblings in a unique way in the form of a spectacular image", says Nico Goehner.


The two young men came across the do-it-yourself trend String Art on the Internet, where instructions for creating works of string art are to be found in countless videos and blogs, but instead of getting to work with hammers, nails and string the three students wanted to machine-make their Fadenfeld. The young entrepreneurs developed a machine that wound string around the nails. Using a high-resolution digital portrait photo as the template, individual string art images take shape almost entirely automatically.

Outlook

After a few initial setbacks production now runs smoothly. The only manual labor that is required is to hammer the nails into the wooden panel by hand. Yet the entire process still very seldom takes less than 24 hours. "We hope that this mixture of technology and art will attract people who might not see themselves as being interested in art and gain them as customers," says Nico Göhner.

About the Founders

NIT Class 17 Alumni Nico Göhner and Alexander Sbitnew founded the start-up Fadenfeld during the Entrepreneurial Management course at the NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management. Their friend Justus Basler joined them and programmed an algorithm for manufacturing string art.



About the Founders

Rodrigo Hortega (left) and Alejandro Espinoza (right), NIT Class 16, are both Mexicans who have experienced the problems of insecurity and understand the repercussions in quality of life. The founding team was supported by Bojidar Dimitrov, an enthusiastic backpack traveler who on the other hand is aware of the need for route advice when traveling to unknown places.

SWALK

Safety is a problem that significantly diminishes the quality of the life of millions of residents and visitors to cities around the world, especially in Latin America where 42 of the world's 50 most violent cities are located. The feeling of being unsafe in certain situations can be very intense, and that is where Swalk can really make a difference.

The Business Idea

Swalk is a mobile application that shows users the safest route to their destination. The streets of the routes are colored in red, yellow and green depending on their security level in real time. To create the routes, Swalk uses two sources of information: official data from the police departments and the database created by users because Swalk enables them to report crimes as they are experienced or witnessed.

In order to improve veracity of the reports, every report made by users is validated according to the user's behavior profile, to other profiles giving the same or similar input, and to statistical analysis of the reported crimes. Furthermore, Swalk allows users to share their live location with a contact person while following a safe route, thus increasing their safety feeling.

Outlook

Swalk is at the moment in use as a beta version in Mexico City and Puebla. It enables users to create safe routes for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists as well as to report new crimes. Swalk progress at the moment is frozen for various reasons and it is still unclear whether efforts to continue the project will succeed. Nevertheless, through two years of hard work and a definitely rocky road, plenty of knowledge and experience has been gathered, preparing the founders for future challenges.


FOUNDING A BUSINESS AT NIT

During the Technology Management program (MBA/MA), the students acquire the skills required to become a stable business owner. The MyProject modules cover subjects related to founding a business like forming innovative ideas, writing a business plan or marketing an idea to potential clients. As part of this curriculum, the students lead their own innovation project – either their own business idea or an innovative project from one of the partner companies. Furthermore students can apply and deepen their acquired knowledge during the compulsory internship as well as the Master's thesis. 


YOUR CONTACT PARTNER

INES KULKA

Alumni & Customer Relations Manager
ines.kulka@bitte nicht bespammennithh.de
+49 40 42878 4287

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