At the start of the event, last year’s winner, Anna von Mangoldt, told the audience what had changed for her in the past year. The Managing Director of “Anna von Mangoldt Farben” sells her paints both via direct sales and through retailers. Her 2017 pitch turned out to be a great opportunity for her to present herself and her paints to an expert jury. She explained how her stand at Cologne’s furniture trade fair in particular really opened doors for her. She has now set herself the goal of creating something real in the digital world and making the inspirational move of transferring it to online business.
Ahead of this year’s competition, around 30 start-ups applied for the “retail” category. The top three had the opportunity to present their business idea at the Digital Interior Day event in front of a critical jury and event attendees. The categories customer relevance, level of innovation, market potential and presentation were decisive.
The opinion of the jury, which comprised Maik Schröder from codecentric, Dr Oliver Streit from Nobilia, Julia Haneke from Stocubo and Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm Cologne, accounted for 60 per cent of the overall score. The remaining 40 per cent was decided by the audience, who could participate directly in the voting process via the interactive audience tool “sli.do”.
Time to get serious
After a five-minute pitch on stage, each entrepreneur was faced with five minutes of questions from the jury. With the aspiration of making a fundamental change to retail, the three start-ups entered the fray.
Roomovo – home furnishings rentals
Christophe Vermeersch was the first entrepreneur to present his idea: “Roomovo”, a home furnishings rental service to suit modern, urban lifestyles. According to Vermeersch, his business model is responding in particular to the current desire for flexibility and sustainability. With his inexpensive alternative to furnished accommodation, he aims to pave the way for limitless mobility. Roomovo takes care of delivery, assembly and collection, ensuring an uncomplicated process from beginning to end. After a minimum term, the customer has the option to decide for him- or herself what happens to the products next: the renter can exchange the products, buy them, have them taken away or extend the term for however long he/she wants.
We have already interviewed the young entrepreneur. You can read the interview here.
Stylique – more than just pretty pictures
Up next after Roomovo was the presentation by the start-up “Stylique”. Stylique is a platform where customers can find inspiration and buy materials for their own interior design projects. For this purpose, the Düsseldorf-based founders, Alexander Lenz and Manan Voskanian, create unique room concepts. This means that, in a similar way to Pinterest, customers can click through a gallery of rooms for inspiration. But the most important aspect is that they can also buy all the products pictured as a collection. The two entrepreneurs feel this is a gap in the market, having themselves spent countless hours collecting product information online. With Stylique, this is no longer necessary. Lenz and Voskanian focus on unique, high-end and top-quality products for their customers’ planned renovation projects. Their business model is a reaction to the Euro 43 billion Germany spent on renovations in 2016 alone. Manufacturers and strategic partners have already put their faith in Stylique and are backing the company.
prodisfy – the after-sales all-rounder
Sebastian Daus, who has previously worked for companies including Uber, Rocket Internet and Capgemini Consulting, was the last to present his start-up idea: “prodisfy”. This next-generation product assistant redefines the way customers, manufacturers, retailers and service providers interact in connection with products that have already been purchased by eliminating breakdowns in the exchange of information and interaction between the individual stakeholders. In addition to its product assistant for end customers, prodisfy offers a platform especially intended to help manufacturers make contact with their end customers. The start-up also provides the technology to manage these touchpoints efficiently while at the same time being prepared for the era of assistants and voice interaction.
Once the three start-up ideas had been presented, attention moved to the next items in the programme, with discussion topics including chatbots, augmented reality, community management and influencer marketing. Verena Huertz spoke about the story behind the success of “KitchenStories” and how she managed to generate 16 million app downloads using content and storytelling.
The exciting decision followed in the evening – who would take home the award for “Home & Living Start-Up 2018”? After a day packed with keynote speeches, presentations and discussions, it was finally time to bring an end to the mystery. The panel of jurors, the entrepreneurs and Anna von Mangoldt took to the stage together for the award presentation, where the following results were revealed:
First place: Stylique
Second place: Roomovo
Third place: prodisfy
The winners from Stylique received a prize worth over Euro 26,000. In addition to prize money, they were also awarded a trade fair stand at imm cologne, a year’s membership of nuucon and a strategy workshop with the experts from Digital Apartment.
Take a look at our in-depth interview with the winners of the start-up pitching event, Alexander Lenz and Manan Voskanian from Stylique.