City, Country: Hamburg, Germany
Course of study/completed degree: MSc International Production Management (TUHH), MBA Technology Management (NIT)
Year of graduation: 2014
Employer and position: Founder and Managing Director of bentekk GmbH, a subsidiary of Dräger Safety AG & Co. KGaA since March 2017
Why did you decide to join the TUHH / NIT, and was that a good decision when you look back today?
I was excited by the idea of a dual honours degree with international students in small groups. Looking back, I am very thankful to the Thomas J.C. & Angelika Matzen Foundation, who covered my tuition fees by providing me with a scholarship. I would make the same decision again, and would encourage anybody to find out more about the various possibilities offered by the TUHH and NIT.
What made you choose this field of study?
The combination of engineering and business management subjects reflected my interests and paved the way for excellent future prospects.
After completing a bachelor degree at a much larger university with predominately classroomstyle teaching, the large amount of practical exercises, case studies and presentations involved in the curriculum appealed to me.
When and how did the idea to start your own business come to you?
We formally founded bentekk GmbH in November 2014 on the basis of research results. From an early stage, we were convinced that our technology would immensely benefit occupational safety in the
industry. My co-founder Matthias Schmittmann and I are also the kind of people who wanted to set up something for themselves. Everything came
together at the right time.
The key facts about your start-up …
bentekk develops portable gas detection technology for determining the concentration of hazardous substances in ambient air. Our products have been on the market in Germany since early 2016, and are becoming increasingly popular in the oil, gas and chemical industries. In 2017, “Dräger”, a company based in Lübeck, took over the majority of shares in our company, in order to enable both companies to grow together.
What is the best thing about your job?
I am able to make relevant decisions immediately and implement them directly with my team. The efficiency of this process is clear to see in the
short term by means of our products, for example. This speed motivates us each and every day.
What does your typical working day look like?
No day is the same. For example, a single working day may consist of talks with our software developers, a sales appointment at a refinery, a job interview with a student, a meeting with our tax advisor, working on a presentation for a detailed product concept and answering endless emails.
What do (future) founders have to watch out for in your opinion?
Founding a company is a process that involves many small decisions that need to be corrected from time to time. However, two issues must be clear from the start. Firstly, that there is a demand, and customers are prepared to pay the price. Secondly, that the founding team is willing to work together for many years.
If you were president of the TUHH …
… I would set up new degree courses in computer science, entrepreneurship and online marketing, in order to train specialists who are urgently needed for digitalising industry in Germany.