Dec 1, 2023

How to Find Out if You're Ready for Entrepreneurship: The Impact Challenge

Susanne Stock-Jakobsen
Content Specialist at Next Big Thing AG
Blog Post Image for How to Find Out if You're Ready for Entrepreneurship: The Impact Challenge

The desire to become an entrepreneur is a common aspiration for many individuals in their professional lives. They yearn to carve their path, achieve independence, and bring their unique vision to fruition. Surveys indicate that nearly 60% of Americans dream of leaving their jobs and starting their businesses while the figure reaches an impressive 82% in Germany. 

However, before taking the plunge into self-employment, many people harbor doubts about whether founding their own company is truly the right choice. They spend weeks and months weighing the pros and cons and considering various possibilities. Thankfully, there is a solution to this dilemma – the Impact Challenge by the venture studio Next Big Thing AG (NBT). It's a risk-free entrepreneurial experiment for individuals looking to discover if they're ready to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship.

The Gateway to Entrepreneurship

The Impact Challenge is a four-week program enabling aspiring tech entrepreneurs to test the waters of their business ideas and their aptitude for entrepreneurship. “We have designed the challenge for individuals in the consideration phase of entrepreneurship - those who are still in full-time jobs yet possess a curiosity for starting their own business”, says Regina  Overchyk, International Program Manager at NBT.

Over those four weeks, participants learn NBT's proven process for building businesses and receive product development, strategic planning, financial and technical support from incubation and technical experts. The program is designed to be managed alongside a normal job. That’s why the approach is completely flexible: everyone can participate at their own pace and from their usual location. "We recommend planning a time commitment of at least five to ten hours per week, so it's easy to manage on the side," says Regina.

Impact Challenge: The Preliminary Stage to the Incubation Program

For those who complete the Impact Challenge and are ready to commit, NBT offers the Visionaries program which provides an even more structured and intensive support system for budding entrepreneurs. The incubation program is primarily aimed at hardware start-ups with a focus on IoT and computer vision. NBT has defined five different search fields for this purpose but also offers wildcards for special business ideas.

Self-Assessment Opportunity for Potential Founders

The Impact Challenge is deliberately broad-based. It's crucial for founders to know whether their personal and professional goals align with the entrepreneurial journey. That's why the program provides a perfect opportunity for self-assessment.

Potential founders at different stages benefit from the concept:

First-Time Entrepreneurs

For newcomers to the startup scene, the Impact Challenge acts as an entrepreneurial trial. It’s a first taste of what it’s like to start from scratch, with the safety net of a structured program and support from experienced venture builders.

Serial Entrepreneurs

Veteran founders have the chance to experience NBT's in-house capabilities firsthand. The Impact Challenge offers them a chance to gauge the proficiency and resources available at NBT before diving into another venture.

NBT's Strategic Approach to Finding Tomorrow's Innovators

The Impact Challenge also holds significant importance within the overall strategy of NBT. The goal is to build impactful and profitable startups – and the Impact Challenge is instrumental in attracting individuals who are eager to make a positive impact on the world and are willing to put their ideas into action. 

“We see the program as a pre-validation for the Visionaries program by ensuring that the best teams and cases are selected to match our founding fundamentals of IoT, tech, computer vision, and sustainability”, says Regina.

Success of First Impact Challenge Signals Strong Market Demand for Startup Offerings

The first Impact Challenge, which took place in August and September 2023, drew 300 applications. Out of these, 20 participants were selected, including a significant number of female founders, which is quite remarkable for the tech startup industry.  

The international group comprised individuals with diverse backgrounds, ranging from former heads of operations at successful startups to subject matter experts with more than five years of experience as well as students.

“The experience from the first Impact Challenge shows that we have created an offer that finds a strong market demand”, Regina sums up. “We meet people where they are: in full-time employment with a remote program to jointly assess whether it is worth getting on board full-time.

Getting to know the Impact Challenge: Download our brochure

Community-Oriented Approach is Fostering Collaboration Among Impact-Driven Innovators

Three participants of the Impact Challenge transitioned to the Visionaries program afterward.

One of them is Nikhil Ninne. He describes his experience in the Impact Challenge as “very unique and exciting” and his learning curve as “exponential”. The challenge reduced a lot of unknowns in the journey of an aspiring entrepreneur like him.

Nikhil also highlights the networking opportunity of the program: “The format allowed me to establish connections and build relationships with the NBT team, which would be crucial for potential collaboration in the future. It also facilitated interactions with fellow founders for possible partnerships.”

This ultimately led to finding a co-founder with complementary skills.  Dr. Konstantin Bellut is an experienced brewing expert with extensive expertise in process optimization and innovative technologies. Together, Nikhil and Konstantin are collaborating on their AIoT plug and play solution to enhance beverage production efficiency.  This serves as a great example of NBT's community-oriented approach in bringing together new founders.

Nikhil Ninne Quote

For Andy Vairac, the Impact challenge felt like an adventure. He appreciates the opportunity to learn from both the NBT team and fellow founders in a supportive environment and being surrounded with like-minded individuals who want to positively impact the future. “There is a realm of problems to address in this world and a lot of passionate people who want to tackle them”, he says. It was very exciting to him to join the final pitch, seeing what the peers came up with.

One of Andy’s key takeaways: “Be not only a master at understanding your problem, but also a master at conveying the message. Both go hand in hand.”

Andy Vairac Quote
Exploring Potential Paths: Insightful Conversations and Deep Tech Validation 

Thomas Hodits is one of the candidates who started the challenge without a definitive idea: “I came across the impact challenge while exploring venture opportunities with a friend from university. We decided to apply to explore the potential paths we can take with guidance from an experienced venture builder.” They also saw the deep tech support of NBT as an ideal opportunity to validate any technical aspects.

His highlight was the pitch day, where he had the opportunity to present his prototype in front of NBT's board and talk to the team, including senior decision makers. Thomas emphasizes the value of talking to stakeholders: “Talking to people is the most useful method of gaining true insight. Conversations with stakeholders in the retail space helped us figure out what matters most and build a truly needed product.” The result: A mobile self-scanning shopping basket solution for retailers that simplifies the customer shopping experience. Just as Nikhil, Thomas extended his collaboration with NBT and started the Visionairies program to refine his business case and work on his MVP.

Thomas Hodits Quote
Hello, Innovators:  Your Next Big Step Awaits

The inaugural Impact Challenge has demonstrated that NBT provides a unique offering, meeting potential founders where they are in their professional journey. Whether it's your first startup or the next one, the Impact Challenge and the Visionaries Program are poised to bolster your entrepreneurial ambitions.

Are you ready to embark on your own entrepreneurial journey with a company that’s redefining the startup ecosystem? Then take the leap and partner up with NBT. We are committed to supporting founders like you. Together, we can build the tech businesses of tomorrow.

Apply for the next Impact Challenge now.