Just do it. But what? And with whom? And why?
These and many other questions are on the minds of future founders. At the LA-Pitch-Night 2021, the digital counterpart of the Landshut Founders’ Night, everything revolved around founding a company. This year, for the first time, the event took place in a hybrid format. The presenting teams and moderators from the LINK Startup Center were on site at Landshut University of Applied Sciences, while a large part of the auditorium was digitally connected.
In addition to live pitches and many interesting presentations, there was also an interview with our founder and CEO Benedikt Häring and Prof. Dr. Sven Roeren:
R: Mr. Häring, you are a graduate of Landshut University of Applied Sciences and founded a company some time ago and can certainly talk a bit out of the sewing box, because after all, these are exactly the emotions and messages that young founders need. Would you like to tell us a little bit about your idea and the company ringbach?
H: First of all, thank you very much for the invitation! As you already mentioned, I studied at the university and graduated in 2008 and then founded ringbach out of my studies with a fellow student. From the very beginning, our focus was on innovative special mechanical engineering, which is why we received the EXIST-Gründerstipendium at that time and then the Flügge-Förderung. We were also able to use some rooms and equipment at Landshut University. Today, we continue to pursue classical mechanical engineering, automation technology and plastics processing. We try to include one of these three aspects in every project. In the meantime, we at ringbach employ twelve people at the Landshut location.
R: Wonderful, thank you for the brief insight. Now, of course, it’s the case that a company rarely gets off to a rocket start and is always on the road to success afterwards. Perhaps you can pick out one or two points from your company history where entrepreneurs themselves start to wonder or even doubt whether they are still on the right track. What can you tell us about this from your experience?
H: Absolutely, it was precisely after these aforementioned grants that the team virtually disbanded and I was initially left behind on my own. That was the first setback, because you get a certain budget for these grants and then that goes away. When you don’t get these funds anymore, you have to make sure that you earn your own bread. After that, I was self-employed for a long time, then I was kind of poached by one of my clients and experienced being an employee for a long time with all its advantages and disadvantages – a huge advantage is of course the regular income. Last year, also in the wake of the pandemic, there were some changes. And that was in terms of the grants to be awarded. That enabled me to revisit the original idea of ringbach. With a new team, I tried again, so to speak, and now we are where we are today. Things have been going uphill for half a year, and before that it was a rocky, long road. That is also the first tip I can give you: Don’t give up, it can also take a little longer.
R: Great, so at times like the Sun King Louis XIV: “The team is me!”. But there must also be such phases, very interesting. Of course, the goal of founding a company is not always money, but also personal development. Have you also noticed that you have benefited as a person from founding a company?
H: Yes, of course, there’s the good old saying: “You grow with the challenge. You can definitely say that. If you also take these detours, then in a certain way you also try to work on yourself and ask yourself: “Is it really up to me? That is also the next tip I can give: Don’t bury your head in the sand in such situations, but try to educate yourself further and grow. It has already been mentioned today that this is the 11th Pitch Night. At the very first one, MyMuesli founder Max Wittrock was there, among others. As far as I know, Wittrock asked the audience at the time who in the room would like to be an entrepreneur. At that time, about 90% responded with a show of hands. But when he asked who would like to be a salesman, only about 10% of the audience raised their hands. That was also a mistake I made. For all the engineering work and perfectionism, we simply forgot to sell the machine at the end of the day. I only learned this during my employment as a technical salesman and was able to greatly expand my knowledge in this area within five years. That is also another tip: educate yourself, especially for technicians the areas of finance and sales are a recommendation and very relevant.
R: So in that respect, such a “lurching course” can also bring a lot of positive things, because you can then bring such aspects and experiences from different worlds and unite them in the founding team.
R: Very nice thought. To come back to the proximity to the university, you are an offspring of the Landshut University of Applied Sciences and are still in active exchange with the founders here on site. What are your points of contact and how are you connected with Landshut University today?
H: On the one hand, recruiting in general is a big topic, and we are currently working on several theses in cooperation with Landshut University. Most recently, I was able to take on three master’s students permanently after their graduation. The exchange is therefore naturally very lively, also due to the local proximity. We are also in the process of working out specific research projects with the university. The proximity to the Landshut University of Applied Sciences is an absolute added value for ringbach and I will remain active here in the region.
R: I can only agree with that. The partnership between companies, including start-up companies, and the Landshut University of Applied Sciences is very beneficial for both sides. As a founder ambassador for the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, I can only emphasize this time and again. The topic of sales, which you have just mentioned, is also highly relevant and I am particularly pleased that you confirm this again from practice, also with regard to success. One final question: What are your next steps and milestones as an entrepreneur?
H: The next steps are mainly the development of further projects and healthy growth. In addition, the current projects should of course be completed promptly, also in view of the current delivery situation. Two months ago, we acquired about 150m² of office space. We will use this for the further expansion of ringbach. To answer the question finally: It will still take one or the other sleepless night until I know exactly if and how the whole thing will work out.
R: We are keeping our fingers crossed for you and look forward to welcoming you to Landshut University of Applied Sciences.
This interview was conducted on 10.11.2021 as part of the Landshuter Gründernacht 2021. We would like to thank the organizers from the Gründerzentrum for the great event and are already looking forward to the next Landshuter Gründernacht!
Photo: Landshut University of Applied Sciences