Many founders have revolutionary ideas, but lack the knowledge to implement them. This is precisely where so-called accelerator or incubator programs come in. The idea is for experts to help young companies grow faster by providing knowledge, a network and coaching sessions. However, especially in developing countries, solutions are used that are not sufficiently structured to provide students and young founders with the necessary skills. The digital platform cirqus addresses exactly this point with their mission statement: to make entrepreneurial education available to everyone. Our students supported cirqus in developing a market entry strategy for Africa, Asia and Europe. For their innovative approach to solving a social problem, they won the Social Impact Award 2021 awarded by the TUM Management Alumni e.V.
A project study with impact
Our TUM School of Management students Veronika Lämmlein, Rwitik Mukherjee, Aneesh Salelkar, Hunain Bin Amir and Oluwatomi Adeefisayo Badmus joined cirqus in their mission. They are all pursuing a Masters in Management at TUM School of Management. During their studies, the five students started a project study to develop a market entry strategy for establishing the cirqus Learning Management Software in Africa, Asia and Europe. In this process, they were supported by TUM School of Management and TUM Entrepreneurship Research Institute, as Veronika explains.
Why is the project so important? Because start-ups have become the cornerstones of the economy in developing countries. However, statistically, only 48.5% make it past the founding stage. One of the main reasons a start-up fails is often poor management in their early stages. A solution to this problem is offered by accelerators and incubators, which support the young start-ups with their guidance and resources. Yet, they must also be sensitive to their unique circumstances. As a DIY for start-ups, cirqus takes care of just that. From marketing to funding, the platform offers everything founders and accelerators need.
Entrepreneurial education for all
Cirqus is based on a concept that aims to automate the accelerator process and adapt it to a start-up's needs. The idea behind it: Young founders should be able to use the tools as they progress and get the guidance they need to sustain in this competitive market without being constrained by the limitations of accelerators. What is special about cirqus? The founders want to give every individual with an idea the tools to successfully work on it, regardless of their geographic, economic or academic background. The insights into the current market provided by the five students' project study offer cirqus an excellent opportunity to use the knowledge and experience they have gained in developed countries such as Germany to tap into less developed countries.
The Social Impact Award is granted each year by the TUM Management Alumni e.V. to ideas and innovations with a social impact. With their market entry strategy, the five students won the Social Impact Award 2021. Using the knowledge gained during the market research and competitor analysis, cirqus now begins to establish its connection with the accelerators and incubators identified. In addition, says Veronika Lämmlein, the students want to invest the prize money received from the Social Impact Award into developing further entrepreneurial projects.
For Veronika, knowledge is a key to success. That’s why she advises young founders: "Educate yourselves in entrepreneurship, invest enough time and resources in building a strong complementary team, expand your network of like-minded people and - most of all - be brave.”
The Social Impact Award
Every year, the TUM Management Alumni e.V. grants the Social Impact Award to ideas and innovations with social impact. Students, graduates and alumni of TUM School of Management can submit projects or a thesis that address a social issue or are intended to have a positive impact on society. Criteria include social impact, entrepreneurship, creativity and feasibility.