On the sidelines of the EPC18 – the first Indo-German startup pitch competition we meet the head of Gründer-Institut, an organisation part of SRH Heidelberg which mentors young founders in the region.

Bluebilities –  Hello, sir. Thank you so much for your time and for your interest in the EPC18. And so, first of all, we would like to ask you about your work. Would you like to tell us a bit about your work?
Bernhard Küppers – Thanks for getting me here today. I’m Bernhard Küppers. I’m the head of Gründer-Institut which is the Institute of founders at SRH Hochschule of Heidelberg.  I’m involved in heading the school for young entrepreneurs and also coaching them founding their business So I’m both a lecturer and a business trainer.

Bluebilities – That’s great. As you know about the event which is happening in Heidelberg and since SRH is a part of it. Since the theme of the event is the Indo-German collaboration and how can technologies make a social impact on the existing ideas. Startup ideas relating to this theme. 
Bernhard Küppers – First, it was a very fascinating idea because India and Germany are in some ways similar.
I would say, peace making countries in the world and boasts of its special aspects. And so Germany really gained from good Indian people, good Indian companies and good relationship. Because in a fast growing world you need to have good relationships otherwise you can’t really build some big future traders or whatever there comes up. So in total, this means, big things can’t just really happen. It’s a result of many small things. To have this event here, to have the people here, to have the students here. It’s a very important thing to let big things growing.

Bluebilities –  What do you think about the new technologies which are emerging in this world if it could help both the countries on what basis? Something like waste disposal. 
Bernhard Küppers – First of all, you are right. I’m sure that Silicon Valley is not the only hub in the world to make innovations. There are a lot of Nobel prize winners around through this area here.
You’re in Germany and a lot of world-leading fields. For example, wind energy, renewable energy, natural engineering.
So definitely, Germany and India have a great field to co-operate in. As far as I know, I have been once, two times in India. But it’s, unfortunately, 15 years ago. I know that this is a very fast growing population, so waste management is a big field which is not really treated by Silicon Valley, it’s more treated by German Companies and whatever. So that this could be a big big chance for both India and Germany and Indian and German companies to develop these fields for future activities.

Bluebilities –  Yes. And also what do you think about the start-up scenarios which are right now in Germany, like since Berlin is the hub of startups? So what do you think about how is it growing here? Is it great? Are people accommodating new kinds of people from different kinds of nationalities?
Bernhard Küppers – Normally, the people will say that Germany is not the best place to make startups. But at the end, Germany is a hardworking economy. So there must be some contradiction in that. So if it’s a hardworking company, country, then there must be a lot of innovation which come to life. So this is exactly the point where I’m looking forward.
Berlin, of course, looks to be the most famous place for innovation in Germany. I’m happy to have this ecosystem for startups here in this area too. And I think that is one of the best in Germany next to Munich, next to Berlin. And that’s all because all the big companies around like SAP, like BASF and whatever these big companies around here, they’re all pushing this regional market.
I would like to also welcome the Indian students here in Germany, especially in Heidelberg where we have a lot of students at the SRH.  We can gain and take a lot of advantages from this relationship by studying here. By having a course together with them, by having exchange programs with them. And so I hope at the end that a lot of German students will go back, or go to India. I think the Indian students are very good ambassadors for India to make this relationship a really good one.

Bluebilities –  Coming to that, I also wanted to ask, what do you think are the necessary skills required by the people who apply for jobs here or look for how they could work? Or work with the Germany legalities if they want to start up something?
Bernhard Küppers – My special recommendation will be to say that, try to learn German. Because in all companies, English, of course, it’s a well-known language. But as more as you go into the small and medium enterprises which a lot of work give in German and there out, you should speak German. So this is maybe one of the things you should think about too if you are here, just try to learn German language.

Bluebilities –  Definitely. It can make you gel well inside the community as well. And finally coming to this question, how do you think young professionals can approach the job market?
Bernhard Küppers – I think candidates can focus on the local businesses of the area. Heidelberg, for example, is a very world work leading place for bio-science, for renewable energy, and so on.

Bluebilities – SRH also wants to open up a campus in India. Would you like to share some details about it?
Bernhard Küppers – It’s, of course, a question of strategy. India is one, if not the fastest growing market, they’re well educated and if there are a lot of Indian people coming to Heidelberg, then it must be a reason for this. The market is there where the customers are. So we can dream of bringing 100 million Indian people to Heidelberg, but we can’t manage it. So it’s much easier to make the way shorter to say you go to India to make the campus there and try to find good exchange process to nurture good ideas.

Bluebilities – What would you be looking for in the startups that you would be judging in the EPC18?
Bernhard Küppers – Of course, the idea is very important. And the idea must be realistic, must not be a dreaming idea.
What kind of personality the founder has? And not even just the founder, to grow up a big company, you need followers. Which means you have to have colleagues, co-founders.
So the team is very important at the very beginning. If the founder and the co-founders and the team are really convincing, then it’s at least as important as the idea. Because a good idea can’t run without a good team. But a good team could at end maybe improve the idea. This is how I look at it.

Bluebilities –  So this is the key factor. And I think, yes, definitely, a good team could do wonders. So it was a pleasure talking to you.
We would love to see you again during the start of the startup pitch up competition. And we are very grateful for SRH contribution towards the startup pitch up.

Bernhard Küppers – I have to say thank you. It was a pleasure for me.


We recently concluded the first ever Indo German Startup Competition at the innovative education city of Heidelberg. The pitch up was held live between Mumbai and Heidelberg and saw the participation of more than 50 startups. Visit us at www.bluebilities.com/epc18 to know more. Connect with Gründer-Institut Heidelberg here.