ESCP Europe Berlin Master-in-Management graduate receives popular EXIST Business Start-up Grant

Alumnus Julian Wächter convinced with his start-up Livebird, an innovative fashion deal platform, and secured himself financial support

Julian Wächter, alumnus of ESCP Europe Berlin, is granted the EXIST business start-up scholarship sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) for a period of one year. He came up with the idea of his start-up concept Livebird during his master’s degree. He wanted to create a chatbot which helps to find the best fashion offers. Users can communicate their fashionable preferences to Livebird through a messenger service which then suggests suitable offers. With this concept, Wächter and his co-founders seized two significant mobile trends: on the one hand, there is an increasing number of people ordering products using a mobile phone or tablet, and on the other hand, messenger services are the most used mobile applications. Facebook Messenger alone counts a total of 1.3 billion users worldwide.

“E-commerce is an ideal field of application for initiating chatbots and artificial intelligence. Nowadays there is a tremendous amount of internet portals and it is nearly impossible to gain an overview of new offers. At the same time, people continue to purchase clothes and shoes”, says Wächter when explaining his idea. At the moment, the three founders are working on the technical development of their chatbot. Livebird should learn how to understand typical questions asked by users and find suitable offers for them. The number of quotes and searched stores are supposed to increase within the next months. The aim is to develop a product ready for the market by the end of November.
Studies at ESCP accompany founders from their initial idea to the market maturity
Financial support and the temporal framework for this project are provided by the EXIST business start-up scholarship. It is granted to students creating innovative projects at universities or research institutions. Wächter and his team receive an amount of 119,000 Euro, inter alia, for salaries, development costs and coaching. The Blue Factory, the founding centre of ESCP Europe Berlin, provides the start-up with further support. “The Business School has supported us from the beginning, e.g. when developing a detailed business plan or when applying for the EXIST business start-up grant. In addition to that, the team knows that we can always count on ESCP Europe for help with administration questions or establishing connections to adequate mentors.”, says Wächter.

Supporting students that are willing to found a start-up has been a prominent goal of ESCP Europe for a few years now. “Within the framework of the Blue Factory we are offering programmes like “Start, Seed and Scale” which support start-ups and founders individually throughout the various start-up phases”, explains Nicolas van de Sandt of the Blue Factory at ESCP Europe Berlin. This model has long been established at ESCP Europe in Paris. In Berlin success has also been achieved, as van de Sandt said. The innovative ideas of young founders in accelerator programmes such as Axel Springer Plug and Play or Startupbootcamp have already convinced institutional investors.

The fact that an increasing number of students aim to start a company is also observed by professor René Mauer. He leads the Jean-Baptiste Say Institute in Berlin, where ESCP start-up activities and projects are brought together. “Entrepreneurship is already one of the favourite specializations within our Master-in-Management programme. It is great to see when projects and ideas that were developed while studying get put into practice.”, says Mauer.

Find more information on the Jean-Baptiste Say Institute of Entrepreneurship, the “option E” within the Master-in-Management programme and further education offers for fulltime employees here: http://www.escpeurope-entrepreneurship.de/

About the EXIST-scholarship
EXIST is a support programme granted to students, graduates and scientists for a period of one year. It is awarded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and aims at improving the entrepreneurial environment at universities and research institutes. It supports university graduates, scientists as well as students in preparing their technology and knowledge-based start-ups starting from innovative ideas to the realisation of their business plans. EXIST is co-financed by funds of the European Social Fund (ESF).