In June, 12 High-tech and IT start-ups from NRW were lucky enough to travel to New York City with the STEP NYC program of the German American Chamber of Commerce in New York City (GACCNY) and the IHKs from NRW, to learn about the local start-up ecosystem. The aim of the start-ups, which were able to qualify through the application procedure of the IHKs, was to make the jump from NRW and break into the American market. The STEP NYC programme, which has, for the third time, brought start-ups from NRW to the East Coast into the new “Silicon Alley” of the USA, enables the founders of these start-ups to create unique contacts and experiences that make access to the US market possible.
For us at Konato GmbH, being able to experience the start-up ecosystem in New York first hand was really impressive. We were able to establish an extraordinary amount of new contacts with other start-ups, mentors and investors as well as with the incredible people at GACCNY and VentureOut – within just a few days this city and its networks completely draw you in.
One of the absolute highlights, apart from the numerous working sessions, was the pitch night “Hackers & Hefeweizen”, held at SAP’s offices in the impressive Hudson Yards Tower. Each start-up was given two minutes to present their business model to the four investors as well as the 150 guests that had been invited and in the end, the audience chose the best pitch. Opportunities like this one, in this setting, are incredibly rare and when Konato GmbH was named as the “winner” we could barely believe that we had won the pitch contest. It was truly overwhelming and the chance to pitch again the following day at the Northside Festival was just insane. Our digital sales solution, which not only improves the quality of sales but also significantly reduces costs, had spoken for itself.
Participants received intensive coaching with selected mentors in order to prepare them for this exciting highlight. After the coaching, we as Konato changed our entire pitch and received invaluable input to this end – it helped us understand exactly how we would need to change the product and the communication. Because the program started at 8 am and normally only finished at 8 pm, the evening hours at the hotel bar provided the perfect opportunity to work on this.
Without this IHK program, we would not have been in a position to build these relationships so quickly. For Konato, this has been an absolute godsend – and we are thankful to all the amazing, dedicated people who made this trip so unforgettable.