Alice Nell
January 21, 2016

Startup Basics 101 with Yatan Blumenthal | Building a Strong Foundation

The word is out! You might have heard it; in March starts a brand new accelerator at ours! Who, what, where? EY Start-­Up Challenge,​ in collaboration with b​etahausX.​ Great reason to ask our Chief Accelerator Yatan Blumenthal to write a series of blogs, and share some basic startup insights.

Phase #1: Building a Strong Foundation

Getting your startup officially started is, officially, the most important, difficult and epic step you’re ever going to take as an entrepreneur. It’s your conception moment; the moment you throw caution to the wind, kick your moving train into gear and go forth and conquer.

 

Pragmatism is the order of the day in these early stages.

There’s no place for platitudes. To work for a sustainable launch, stay grounded, literal and with nothing but the future in mind. Don’t just decide on your concept, buy a URL and just start pumping out whatever product/service you’re looking to flog.

 

"Don’t just decide on your concept, buy a URL and just start pumping out whatever product/service you’re looking to flog."

 

Business can be a bastard and you need to understand, analyze and properly prepare –

You’re about to step into the ring with the heavyweight of all bureaucratic bruisers and receiving a public beat down is not the right way to start anything. For this reason;

 

Before you go running into the ring you need to understand a few things

About what it means to form a business, starting with how your company will legally look. Create the go-to German company: the GmbH or its smaller sister UG, get incorporated as an LTD in the UK, or, if you want to get busy in the Land of the Free, perhaps a Delaware LLC is the way to go. Decisions, decisions, decisions. For many, it might boil down to geography: Where you are at the time of incorporation and where you come from as a founder. You should also sit down and query how you’d like to sell your product/service, where your principal market will be, how taxation will work, registration and company structure. We never said it was going to be easy. Oh, and don’t forget trademarking and intellectual property rights. Or your social security status as founder. The official stuff is important, but more important is to test your product.

 

"For many, it might boil down to geography: Where you are at the time of incorporation and where you come from as a founder"

 

After all that has been ironed-out, you should see clear skies and plain-sailing.

In terms of paper-work, at least. Then just brain-dump everything onto a nice and neat, official business plan and decide on a name. Just remember, this is how you’ll be remembered; it’ll forever remain the crux of your brand. Pick something appropriate. If you don't, you can always change it later.

 

"Decide on a name (...) it’ll forever remain the crux of your brand. Pick something appropriate."

 

The initial moments cannot be overstated.

Setting yourself up right, legally legitimate and with a comprehensive understanding of where you and your business stand is the only way to burst on to the business scene sustainably and effectively. Only then can you throw caution to the wind, kick your moving train into gear, go forth and conquer. Need a little help? Apply for a good accelerator - like the one we're doing with EY!

 

Wanna learn more and get all right from the start? Applications for the EY Start-Up Challenge are open until February 14th. Worried about travel expenses because you're not in Berlin? Travel expenses up to €7.5 K are covered.

Continue reading! 

Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.

Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.


If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.

The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.

It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.


Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for‌ ‌example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”. 

Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?

It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌urban‌ ‌planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!


A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.

Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!


Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.


Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.


Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard.  The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.


Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one? 

Then head over to our Future Logistics Challenge! Applications are still open until September 23rd.

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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