Foundation of the month: nono

Ana Beatriz Benatti
Founder of the month

What does your company stand for?

At nono, we are passionate about the digitalisation of amateur sport, with a particular focus on promoting digital payment methods in clubs. We understand that many sports clubs struggle with limited resources, time and volunteer structures. Our mission with nono is to create a future where clubs can easily and cost-effectively adopt digitalisation. By introducing digital payment systems, we want to take much of the administrative burden off clubs’ shoulders. Our commitment is based on the principles of transparency, innovation and gratitude. Clubs have made us what we are, so we want to enable them to strengthen and facilitate their role as social pillars and links in the community.


Where and how did you get the brilliant idea to found the company?

In May last year, Jonas and Ergin had the opportunity to visit Israel as part of a Start-up Tour with the Pioniergarage. The diversity and progress they saw in the field of payments and digitalisation was overwhelming. Particularly impressed by the innovative payment systems, they asked themselves the question that eventually became the core of our start-up: “Why isn’t it possible to pay cashless at sports club events?” We couldn’t let go of this question and, while still in Israel, we began to develop our first ideas and to concretise our visions and dreams. This was the moment that ignited the spark that led us to pursue our idea – slowly but surely. However, it took some time before the three of us, now including Pascal, really got together. Our first meeting was in October and it was immediately clear that we had to do this together! From that point on, nono was no longer just an idea, but a real mission to change the way payments are handled in sports clubs.


How did the founding team come together?

We are all Masters students at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, where we met. We got on well right from the start, but had no intention of starting a company together. The idea came about when Jonas and Ergin went on a trip to Israel. Inspired by their experiences, they came to the conclusion that our team definitely needed a third person and agreed that Pascal was the perfect candidate. After some persuasion, Pascal agreed to join us. Now the three of us really feel complete.


Where do you see the hurdles in the start-up process? Where did you get support?

We encounter hurdles almost every day. Hardly a day goes by when we are not faced with the challenge of finding a solution to a particular problem. However, the key to success is to focus on the next necessary step, be it writing an email, making a phone call or applying for a competition like GROW. This is how we build momentum in our start-up process.
Our support is diverse and comes from many different sources. We benefit enormously from the expertise of our mentors and coaches, who have extensive knowledge in their respective fields. We take their advice seriously, consider it carefully and make the best possible decisions.

What was one of your biggest challenges during the start-up phase?

As we are still in the pre-foundation phase, we can’t say much about specific challenges during the actual foundation. However, we already find every aspect of setting up a company challenging. It is essential that every decision is made in close consultation with team members and that everyone in the team is kept informed of each other’s activities and progress.
Reaching the final of the GROW competition has been our biggest challenge so far. This experience has taught us as a team what it means to be under pressure, to perform and to trust each other completely.


Has Corona had an impact on your start-up/industry so far, and if so, how?Corona has never been a problem, but it shows the considerable deficit in the German club landscape – digitalisation.


What qualities do you think a founder should have?

From our point of view, patience, trust and the ability to put one’s ego aside are crucial qualities that every founder should have. The success of the team depends on the performance of each individual, and everyone in the team should think in the same way. It is important that each team member understands the priorities of the others in order to act with the necessary care and attention.


Question for our start-up community: Do you have any practical advice for other young entrepreneurs?

Our advice to other young entrepreneurs is: Just do it! Don’t let fear get in the way, because there is no recipe for the perfect business. Write your own story, be patient and never give up hope. Don’t be afraid, no one has a guide to the perfect business. Write your own story, be patient and never give up hope.


Question for our start-up community: Looking back, what would you do differently?

It is difficult for us to say what we would do differently from today’s perspective. However, we have realised that you can achieve more together than if you work on a task alone. We believe that team meetings are very important.


What are your plans for the future? What are your next big milestones?

We are currently in the process of applying for an EXIST start-up grant and are also in the middle of working on our Master’s theses. It’s a very stressful but incredibly exciting time for us at the moment. Our next big goal is to release our first module together with our pilot customers next season. In addition, the “thincubator!”, a two-week accelerator programme, will start in mid-March and we will be participating. We will also be attending the START Summit at the University of St. Gallen. After that, we plan to gain momentum and really take off! The future looks very promising!

Thank you for answering the questions!



As always, you can also listen to the episode of our Start-up podcast on Spotify and get to know the founders of nono more personally.

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