Founder of the month: Appointrix
Founder of the month
What does your company stand for?
With our software solution, we enable our customers to offer first-class services. Above all, on-site services of all kinds finally become a real experience for the end customer again. Instead of waiting forever for the technician who never comes, the end customer is always informed about the current status of his service thanks to our service expert. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s the installation of large appliances, technical customer service or orders from craftsmen.
Where and how did you come up with the bright idea to found the company?
Most people have probably already had the experience of waiting forever for a technician. Unlike a parcel service, it’s hard to drop him off at the neighbours’, because he has to go to the customer’s home to provide the service. In our case, it was the service employee who was supposed to set up an Internet connection, but who failed to show up several times despite fixed appointments. The service for other services was also in such need of improvement that we decided to start Appointrix. At a time when on-site appointments are still partly organised with wall calendars, we want to bring the latest technology to this industry with our intelligent algorithms.
How did the founding team come together?
Markus and Patrick got to know each other during their computer science studies at KIT, where they successfully realised their first joint projects in the logistics sector. When Patrick told his private friends about the idea behind Appointrix, Matthias was immediately hooked. Knowing that Matthias, with his long experience as a student business consultant, could perfectly complement the founding team, we managed to convince him of the start-up project once and for all.
What do you see as the advantages of being your own boss?
Probably nowhere else can you actively shape a company as much as as the founder of your own start-up. You can actively contribute your own ideas instead of just carrying out the boss’s tasks. At the same time, this freedom forces you to take responsibility for every single step you take. As a result, you learn an incredible amount in a short time, which has also helped us personally.
What qualities should you bring with you as a founder?
Especially in the beginning, every start-up is like an uphill and downhill ride, which can be emotionally challenging at times. That’s why we realised how important it is to have a clear vision and to work on it with a healthy portion of stamina. Especially in stressful times, this has helped us enormously. Most challenges you face turn out to be half the hurdle in retrospect. You only have to start once and then have the bite and ambition to keep going. Of course, a certain amount of self-organisation and discipline can’t hurt either.
Where do you see the hurdles on the way to a successful business? Where did you get support?
We sought contact with potential customers early on in order to continuously exchange information with them about what their concrete needs really are. Unfortunately, we still come across applications that have been programmed by developers without ever getting feedback from potential customers. Applications that are designed without customer feedback have a decisive weakness: they can only be used meaningfully from one perspective, namely that of the author. If you then go public with it, you often meet with great rejection, which is why even promising projects unfortunately fail. In addition to the ongoing exchange with customers, we also work closely with the KIT and other partners to constantly develop our product and keep it at the cutting edge of technology. But the right product is not enough. Mentors like Mathias Thomas and Christian Kurrle have been a great help to us, especially for topics beyond pure product development. In general, the CyberLab’s large network of mentors is very supportive when it comes to questions in this area.
How did you deal with the increased workload during the start-up phase?
When the day is no longer enough, you just add the night. Joking aside, of course a start-up entails a lot of work, especially at the beginning. But this challenge can also be mastered if you keep a few things in mind. In our case, it was a great help that everyone thought outside the box and took over tasks from others in stressful phases. Once again, it became clear how important a well-functioning team is. In order to further optimise the workload, it is also helpful to prioritise the tasks at hand in order to keep the focus. And most importantly: if you work hard, you can celebrate. That’s why it’s important to celebrate your first successes.
Do you have any tips for other young entrepreneurs?
In general, there are a lot of contact points in Karlsruhe that can help you at the beginning of your start-up. You just have to ask them! At the same time, concentrate on your idea and become the best in the field. And above all, talk to others about your idea. This is the only way to get direct feedback. Don’t forget to do it! There will always be someone who comes around the corner with the famous “Yes, but…” and if it works, you will get the confirmation again. If you are convinced of your idea, start doing it. Some may think it’s naive, but that’s exactly why others don’t do what you do.
Founders: Markus Spöri, Patrick Piatkowski and Matthias Koppenborg
Industry: Software & C
Image rights: Appointrix