Ten days, a tight schedule, difficult challenges, deadlines and the final pitch – a process that can lead to the foundation of new businesses. THINK.MAKE.START. is a course that challenges students to step out of their comfort zones, get together in teams and develop technical solutions to complex real life-problems within a limited time frame. Recently, the Batch #12/13 consisting of 52 students from eight different departments, working in 10 teams, completed their experience at the TUM Entrepreneurship Research Institute in Garching. Participants pitched their innovative projects on demo day, an event that was live streamed on YouTube as well. The course has produced promising results and three winners.
What the course is about
THINK.MAKE.START is a two-week course that combines academic learning with hands-on experience. Its goal: solving real problems with technical innovations. Twice a year, master’s students are chosen to come together in teams of four to five students and develop a game-changing project. Every team consists of experts from different disciplines – problem experts, tech developers, and business developers. Problem experts are skilled in understanding customer needs. They challenge assumptions and ask questions to find current user problems. Tech developers are interested in engineering and prototyping, making an idea work. Business developers are in control of strategies and finances to create a sustainable business model.
A challenging schedule
Starting at the pre-event a few days before the actual course begins, students are able to get to know each other, form teams, exchange ideas and visions, and dive into the entrepreneurial TUM spirit. On kick-off day, the teams are fueled with motivation and knowledge to get started in the following project work. Together they plan their projects, test, reflect, and adapt, while continuously being challenged by consultations from experts and pressing deadlines. Supported by specialists, entrepreneurs, and lecturers, the teams create minimum viable products. Furthermore, the groups have to present their products in a pitch on demo day: they need to explain to the audience the user problems they are trying to solve and present their project in a suitable design. Combining these different areas of expertise, experience, and the students’ determination, the projects are aimed at laying the foundation of future businesses and contributing to the next wave of tech innovation.
Headpeace – creating balance for the modern world
One of the award-winning projects of the recent batch was Headpeace – a headset that is meant to relieve stress at work. The group found out that physical and emotional stress at work is increasing, which leads to increasing absenteeism, due to illness, and financial losses. To prevent those issues, the group developed a multifunctional headset that reduces stress through acupressure, warmth and sound features, which can be regulated and tracked with an app. For their efforts, Headpeace was honored with the THINK Award for the most convincing pitch and idea.
COPI – your safety co-pilot
The award in the category MAKE for the best prototype went to COPI, a solution that could save lives in traffic. As approximately 900 million cars worldwide still are not equipped with driving-assistance systems, COPI developed a transportable solution, a box that can be placed in any car, to ensure safe mobility for everyone. By using machine learning models, COPI detects traffic signs and reminds drivers to maintain the minimum distance from other vehicles. Additionally, the group already plans to add more features, such as blind-spot warning and lane-keeping, in the future.
Brainsight – we know what gamers feel
Team Brainsight detected a problem in the gaming industry: video game developers spend over two million dollars annually in game testing. However, many games still fail. The team found that while game testing is crucial in game development, its methods are outdated and time-consuming and produce subjective results. That’s why Brainsight developed an objective play-testing method, as they measure brain activity of players with an EEG hardware system and then apply their machine-learning software to translate the data into emotions. Thanks to this method, they are able to deliver valuable information to the game developers, in order to provide a satisfying user experience. Connecting to entrepreneurs and mentors in the field, Brainsight was already able to achieve their first steps into the real business world during the course – and signed their first client. This is why the project won the START award for the greatest business potential.
Projects with a future perspective
Generally, THINK.MAKE.START aims to provide students with the opportunity to lay the foundation to start their own business. Entering the TUM startup ecosystem, the groups are supported to continue their projects after the course has been completed and create new spin-offs to further innovation.
You want to become part of the Hackathon and catch the TUM spirit as well?
The application process for the next Batch #14/15 ends January 31st, 2022. Apply now!