Changes At the Kickstart Academy Help To Successfully Drive Engagement

FH Münster, a WeRin partner, introduced an interesting programme that supports a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Münster, Germany: Kickstart Academy, by Venture Club Münster (VCM).

This was completed as part of the preparation of the Good Practice Report, which started in June 2022. As WeRin launches the Webinar Collection, FH Münster recently spoke with Jan-Dennis Witthoff, VCM’s Chairman since 2022’s winter semester, who shared the following updates for a webinar recording.

In a bid to adapt to changing dynamics and better serve the entrepreneurial aspirations of students, VCM has replaced its long-standing Kickstart Academy programme with two new initiatives: the Climate Hack and the Startup Contacts Fair. The decision to replace the programme was made due to declining engagement from partners and participants over the past years.

Jan-Dennis Witthoff
Jan-Dennis Witthoff

“The decision to replace the Kickstart Academy with the Startup Contacts Fair was driven by our commitment to adapt and innovate. We recognised a decline in interest and engagement in the nine-week program, and felt it was time to explore alternative formats that better capture the attention and enthusiasm of our target audience,” explained Witthoff.

Traditionally held in June, the Kickstart Academy has been vital to VCM’s calendar. However, recognising the need to revitalise the event and cater to the evolving needs of the start-up ecosystem, the organisation decided:

  • to orient itself on a short-long weekend event format, like the Climate Hack or the Kickstart Weekend – a 4-day intensive programme which allows participants to gain comprehensive knowledge and insights required to launch their first business. By condensing the timeframe, VCM hopes to ensure higher participant engagement and sustained enthusiasm throughout the program.
  • to introduce the Startup Contacts Fair as an alternative, aiming to bridge the gap between students from diverse backgrounds and the thriving start-up community in Münster. This fair fills a void in the market for such events, inviting start-ups, venture capital firms, and accelerators to be part of a day featuring founders matching, workshops, and one-on-one meetings with founders, offering students valuable insights and networking possibilities.

Witthoff emphasised the importance of connecting students with the local start-up ecosystem, making it more accessible and familiar. By organising the Startup Contacts Fair, the organisation seeks to provide a platform and pave the way for students and aspiring entrepreneurs, connecting them with the resources, knowledge, and networks necessary to succeed in the dynamic world of start-ups.

Last June, the first-ever Startup Contacts Fair took place at the Scholossplatz in Münster, and it was a resounding success. Over 500 participants attended the fair – for free – engaging in a series of inspiring workshops and talks. The event created an atmosphere of excitement, with attendees exploring the innovative ideas and entrepreneurial opportunities showcased by over 30 start-ups, venture capital firms, and accelerators.

With the introduction of the Startup Contacts Fair, VCM continues to play a pivotal role in promoting collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit among students in Münster. This new initiative reflects the organisation’s commitment to adapt to the evolving needs of the start-up ecosystem and nurture the next generation of innovative leaders.

While the Kickstart Academy has been temporarily replaced, the organisers have not ruled out the possibility of reviving the program in the future. Witthoff expressed VCM’s dedication to adapting to changing circumstances and the importance of allowing each board to introduce or modify events as needed.