After university into your own company – many CBS alumni opt for this career path. Julia Hack, CBS graduate in “International Business”, also chose the path to self-employment after a period as Convention Manager at Düsseldorf Congress. She founded her start-up Green For Me with her former colleague Nathalie Odermann. They came up with the idea for their online platform, which accompanies gardeners during the planning, purchase and maintenance of flower beds, by chance: When Nathalie wanted to redesign her garden, she was disappointed with the online planning service and was unable to obtain comprehensive bed planning advice from the nursery. Two years after the idea for “Green For Me” was born, we talked to Julia Hack about her first years as an entrepreneur and her time at CBS.
CBS: You studied International Business at CBS. How did you come into contact with founding during your studies?
Julia Hack: At CBS, we were constantly taught how to think like a founder. I also took the course “Entrepreneurship”.
CBS: Were there any lecturers or fellow students at CBS with whom you could exchange ideas about “business start-ups”?
Julia Hack: Yes, especially with Mike Schallehn who was my lecturer in “Entrepreneurship”. There were also some fellow students with whom I exchanged ideas. The first ideas for business models emerged during my time at CBS, but I didn’t pursue them any further.
CBS: What knowledge from your studies could you apply to your foundation?
Julia Hack: Studying at CBS has given me a good theoretical basis that helps me with many aspects of founding a company – be it financial planning or marketing strategy. In practice, I always learn new things and get involved in everything.
CBS: What is so special about your business idea?
Julia Hack: We offer an all-in-one solution, from planning to buying and maintaining flower beds. We accompany our customer through his entire customer journey, which saves him a lot of time, effort and costs for the creation of his dream garden.
CBS: What sets you apart from your competitors?
Julia Hack: That our customer has maximum flexibility with us and can plan his bed completely individually. We ask him what he wants and what the conditions in his bed are. In this way, we indirectly impart knowledge to him and he becomes aware of what he has to consider for his garden. He then receives a bed concept that exactly suits him.
CBS: What were the biggest challenges on the way to the foundation?
Julia Hack: As a startup you face new challenges every day. The first big challenge was to quit my job at the time and to take the step to self-employment. Last year, for example, we decided to completely redesign the software, which initially set us back, but was the right decision.
But we’ve also had some success with Green For Me: We were able to acquire public funding for our business and we see that our service reaches our customers.
CBS: Has your business idea changed over time?
Julia Hack: Yes, when I think back, it wasn’t our first plan at the time to develop software. Our basic idea is still the same, but product tests have shown us what customers really want. Our product is constantly changing.
CBS: What would you advise CBS students to consider starting their own business?
Julia Hack: Build a good team and network and immediately check the idea to see if it really solves a customer problem.
CBS: What are your plans for the next five years?
Julia Hack: We would like to continuously expand the bed planning and maintenance, automate it even more and transfer it to the entire garden. In addition to the garden, balcony planning should also be made possible.
CBS: Thank you very much for the interview!
The association hochschulgründernetz cologne (hgnc) at CBS offers further information on founding as well as free consulting and meeting for students and employees at Cologne universities under: https://www.hgnc.de/