Start your own business during university? No problem for a master’s student of the international business specialisation "Entrepreneurship". Together with his brother and a graphic designer friend Jannik Westbomke founded WWR Media Solutions UG last year. Since then, he has been developing online and offline marketing campaigns with a focus on the B2C segment as well as classic print products alongside his master's degree. Before the start of the "Golden Shopping Days", an online-based shopping campaign, we talked to him about being a founder and his studies at CBS.
CBS: You are currently studying "International Business - Entrepreneurship" in the master's programme at our Cologne campus. How is the topic "founding" dealt with in the classroom?
Jannik Westbomke: There were several subjects spread over the entire course of studies that were directly or indirectly related to the topic of founding a company. We interviewed a founder and wrote an idea paper which we submitted to the hgnc Ideenwettbewerb (hgnc idea competition) in the first semester.
CBS: Were there any lecturers or fellow students at CBS with whom you exchanged ideas about "business start-ups"?
Jannik Westbomke: We were in a close exchange throughout the entire study period. The studies inspired me to develop new business ideas. The contact to the lecturers was also great, as they always had a sympathetic ear for me.
CBS: Which knowledge from your studies could you apply when you founded your company?
Jannik Westbomke: Entrepreneurship is not like mathematics. I think that this is the best way to put it. There is one correct result in maths. 2+2 is now 4 and it will still be so in 100 years.
It's different when you start a business. Sometimes you have a goal in mind and you achieve it. However, with the next step you realise that the result is not desired by the market, so you have to change direction. By working through various case studies, I have seen that even the very big companies, such as an Airbnb, were not successful from the beginning and had to overcome some hurdles. Such stories are very motivating.
So the key to entrepreneurial success is to continuously pursue one's idea with passion and not to let setbacks get you down. And the most important thing is probably that you just get going. Because only those who dare can also win.
CBS: What is special about your business idea?
Jannik Westbomke: The special thing about the Golden Shopping Days is the closed community, so that not every visitor can access our partners` discount vouchers. This feature is very important for the participating online shops, as they mainly want to acquire new customers. If the voucher codes will be retrieved directly, then customers would benefit who are just quickly looking for a voucher code in the check-out process. This is a great nuisance for online shops, as these customers would usually have ordered even without a voucher code.
CBS: Has this idea changed over time?
Jannik Westbomke: The basic idea has remained the same right from the start. But of course, we first had to see how we could make the Golden Shopping Days as attractive as possible for both the participating online shops and the potential buyers. That's why we already introduce the online stores and their products at an early stage on Instagram and Facebook. Business is fast moving and we are always implementing new ideas accordingly.
CBS: What were the biggest challenges on the way to founding the company?
Jannik Westbomke: The official procedures were definitely one of the biggest struggles. It's incredible how much paperwork has to be done before you can start working on the actual idea. Moreover, in the digital age it cannot be the standard. Here I see that Germany has a lot of catching up to do. Founding a company must be made easier.
CBS: What hurdles did you have to overcome with your start-up?
Jannik Westbomke: Due to the fact that the Golden Shopping Days are taking place for the first time, we could not refer to any reference data (website visitors, etc.) from previous campaigns when we were making acquisitions. We had to convince the online shops to participate via other USPs, which we ultimately succeeded in doing very well through the acquisition of over 45 online shops.
CBS: What would you advise CBS students who are toying with the idea of founding their own company?
Jannik Westbomke: Just get started! Of course it is important to get an idea of the opportunities and risks. However, an idea should not be "thought to death" either.
Before founding a company, I would also recommend not talking to too many people, as they will advise you against it. But once you have founded and implemented your idea, you should talk to as many people as possible to get more inspiration.
CBS: What are your plans for the next five years?
Jannik Westbomke: We are striving to establish the "Golden Shopping Days" as a permanent fixture in online shopping on the German market.
CBS: Many thanks for the interview!
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