How it feels to be part of the Founders’ Prize
I guess it is normal for a startup or a founder in general to reach a point where you feel confident about what you do and the development status of your product or service. We reached this point pretty much exactly 14 months after deciding to found Blackout Technologies.
We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. – Steve Jobs, 1985
I feel like we did a lot of things other founders only do after years of being in business. We got our first jobs with barely something that, with both eyes closed, could maybe resemble a MVP (minimal viable product). We got our first employee up to our first 10 employees within 6 months. We scored our first big Enterprise customer, with whom we now have more than 10 projects and POCs. We got our first and second office. We wrote business plans and networked like crazy. We are partners with some of the biggest tech companies in the world. We pitched and learned. We found out that what we originally thought would be our product, was merely a means to an end. We were working long-ass hours to make our customers dreams come true.
All of the above might seem totally unstructured. If it does, it would be a perfect representation of our first 14 months.
But, in the end, we got the jobs and were able to grow, build-up and pay the bills, just with our ideas and the drive to make the impossible possible.
Which turned out to be a key factor in the race to win the 2018 edition of the Bremen founders prize (german: Bremer Gründerpreis).
To be honest, we actually didn’t really know about the founders prize announcement until the day before the deadline. A friend of ours told us about it and urged us to apply. So we did, we wrote our one-pager about our motivation and handed in the numbers of our jobs. And it was enough to make it to the top five picks.
Marc was invited to pitch Blackout Technologies in front of a jury. Although, of course, that day 20 million things were happening at the same time and we nearly didn’t find the right place, we barely made it in time. And who would have guessed, not even a full week later, we got the call that bound us to secrecy: We won! We were able to show our dedication for our work, were able to inspire with our love for Bremen and could convince a jury of bankers with our business development!
The time between the call and the Gala went by in a rush and all of a sudden Blackout Technologies’ team dressed up and went to their very first gala. Kejsi, Anton, Stilian, Ahmet, Marc, Luna and I went to enjoy the event. The program included our very first press conference, where Marc, Luna and I represented the company and were asked questions local and regional press. Next to the founders prize, Bremen also honored an already established local family business, the Interhomes AG. Frank and Yasemin Vierkötter represented the Interhomes AG and won the “Entrepreneur of the Year”.
After the press conference the actual event started with over 600 hundred invited guests. In the first row, next to all the important board members and executives, the team of Blackout Technologies. What an amazing feeling!
Marc and Luna were invited to accept the prize as representatives of Blackout Technologies. Even Luna was invited to have an active role in that, making jokes with moderator and ensuring all guests had a memorable show. Next to our own 5 minutes of fame on that gigantic stage, we heard exciting stories of Martin Güntner (senator for economics, work and harbours), Dr. Heiko Staroßom (Sparkasse Bremen), Franca Reitzenstein (Die Familienunternehmer).
Well, founders can participate the first 5 years, that leaves 4 more years that we can compete for the founders prize again. 😉