On Sunday, June 2nd, 2018 the American-German Business Club of Frankfurt (AGBC) celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow competition at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. This event was the conclusion of nearly six months of hard work by aspiring young entrepreneurs, their dedicated mentors and AGBC staff.
The event began with welcoming remarks by Prof. Dr. Joerg R. Werner of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He said, “Entrepreneurs contribute a great deal to society…and support German-U.S. Relations. You young men and women are already distinguished, and all will likely be leaders.”
Thomas Leiser, Executive Vice President of the AGBC-Frankfurt, then took the floor and explained the role the AGBC has in supporting the relationship between the U.S. and Germany.
Mr. Leiser, an American, then introduced Johannes Schaefer, obviously a German, who works at Frankfurt Economic Development GmbH. Mr. Schaefer spoke admiringly of German engineering and manufacturing, but emphasized American entrepreneurial spirit. He ended his speech with a remark and a famous American corporate slogan. He said “There is one principal why you are here today. It is ‘GO FOR IT!’”
Following that inspirational message, the six finalist teams from nearly 25 original contestants were invited to present their business plans to the audience and judges. The team of judges was made-up of entrepreneurs from various businesses, and even a past winner of the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow award.
Each finalist team presented for approximately 10 minutes, and answered questions from judges. All teams used the projector-screen with slides to present, and some even had prototypes to show and give judges the opportunity to test their products.
Following all six presentations, judges were given 30 minutes to discuss and likely argue how to rank the six business plans.
Before the guest of honor was introduced, James Tiedeman, Vice President of Sponsorship for the AGBC, thanked the several corporate contributors who made this learning experience, contest, and award ceremony possible.
Thomas Leiser returned to the microphone to introduce the guest of honor, James Herman, the U.S. Counsel General for the United States. Mr. Leiser emphasized that Mr. Herman leads the largest U.S. Consulate in the world, and is responsible for nurturing both cultural and business relationships. Mr. Herman said he endeavors to bring the entrepreneurial spirit to government. He said that he recently met with the management committee of a 400 year-old German bank and learned its explanation for its resilience. He said he the bank has three values, and they are: independence, entrepreneurism and “Menchlichkeit” (dignity and respect). Mr. Herman claimed admiration for these virtues, and inspired the six competing teams to follow these virtues.
Mr. Herman and AGBC staff then presented awards to the six teams based on their judged-rankings. The 2nd place team was Designed for Alarm, represented by Celine Englisch. Ms. Englisch gave a very persuasive speech on her team’s idea to design, manufacture, produce and sell attractive jewelry that serves simultaneously as an alarm for women under attack.
Mr. Herman then gave the 1st prize award to team Boligraphics. These four teenagers from the European School of Frankfurt presented a potential improvement to a growing trend, the spinning of pens. One Boligraphic team member explained that one day he watched his Spanish teacher attempting to spin his pen and that occurrence inspired his three team members and him to create a pen designed and manufactured to enhance (make easier) the spinning experience. The team member also explained to the largely German and English speaking audience that “Boli” means pen in Spanish and the name of the company is a tribute to their Spanish teacher.
The successful, fun and inspiring event ended with Johannes Schaefer, presenting Deborah Runge, the Coordinator for the AGBC Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow with flowers and thanking her for her hard work and dedication. Ms. Arunge thanked everyone, said everyone was so impressive, and she wished he had a flower to give each contestant to show her appreciation.
Thanks must also go to this year’s Judging Panel for the challenging task of selecting the 2018 winners!
Dr. Erik Boska. CEO at Cunio Technologies GmbH. Techn. Universitat Darmstadt
Pedro Ferreira. Editor & Community Manager at Rhein-Main-Startups.com, Curator at Startup Digest, Digital Marketing Consultant, ISCTE Business School
James Tiedeman. AT&T Principal, AT&T’s Business VP Exec Director Global Operations
Isaac Thomas. Director of Investments at Green Towers GmbH, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Business Strategist, Young Leaders of Finance
Leon Strauss. CTO at Acomodeo. Techn. Universitat Darmstadt
Wenxin Zhang. Founder & CEO at German-Education-Partners GmbH & former EoT winner