EXIST Gründerstipendium awarded to Xeem
Xeem will receive the EXIST Gründerstipendium from April 2021, with a multi-functional online platform, they offer well-known companies and creative young professionals an innovative opportunity to exchange ideas. The two founders use their success to motivate other young people to live the dream of their own start-up.
Earlier this year, in February, both founders finished their master thesis at Hochschule Darmstadt in „Leadership in the creative industries“, and in a recent interview to our sponsor StartHub Hessen, Géraldine Ulrichs said:“You just have to start and dare to do something. If you are too concerned about safety or only ever doubt yourself, you make your own success impossible, ”. The 24-year-old knows what she’s talking about: Together with her fellow student Janine Weirich, she founded the online platform Xeem during her studies, where young, creative people and companies can find each other in an innovative way. Whether SAP, Merck or Red Bull — many promising employers now use Xeem for part of their recruiting. For the two young Darmstadt women, this is confirmation of their open attitude towards the topic of reasons, which they would like to pass on to others.
“Unfortunately, women are still a rarity in the start-up scene, so we actually see ourselves as role models. But in general there is still room for improvement in Germany when it comes to founding a business: In our opinion, the topic was always neglected at school and even at the university. We would like to change that, ”says Géraldine Ulrichs. The two students are therefore involved in the non-profit organization STARTUP TEENS, which is aimed specifically at young people. They advise you, but also all other budding entrepreneurs, to network well from the start and to seek support without hesitation. “The start-up scene is very open, so nobody has to worry about not making a connection. More experienced founders are often happy to take on the role of mentor, which helps a lot, ”says Géraldine Ulrichs.
Géraldine Ulrichs and Janine Weirich met during their studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt. Together they have managed more than ten projects to date and have become a well-coordinated team. “It is important for us to have a broad base and to keep learning new things. That’s why we have a lot of fun with our projects, which can sometimes carry you through difficult times. And at the same time we learned what young people find important in their job today — and from this we developed our business idea, ”explains Janine Weirich.
Participate in an uncomplicated way, be challenged creatively, improve your skills on the side — and maybe find the dream job in the end: the online platform Xeem combines several advantages for young professionals. In interdisciplinary teams, the young interested people work on digital challenges that are designed by companies. The first solution approaches, impulses or ideas are then born within a maximum of two hours, whereby the participants can optimally develop their soft skills. At the same time, contacts are made with potential employers.
They also benefit from Xeem on several levels: The online platform is not only an ideal opportunity to present your own company comprehensively in the environment of sought-after junior employees and to establish networks with young talents. Following the open innovation approach, the companies also gain direct concrete impulses and new ideas. “We offer a classic win-win situation — just like we discussed the topic in our bachelor thesis, which was the basis for Xeem. We were able to confirm this through the first practice-oriented challenges, ”says Janine Weirich.
Their funding is secured in the near future through the EXIST start-up grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Social Fund. Previously there was support from the Hessen Ideen Scholarship. “Both grants help us enormously because they allow us to concentrate fully on our project,” explains Géraldine Ulrichs. “Prospective founders should therefore obtain extensive information about the funding opportunities that exist. This is a good way of bridging the early days, when the income is logically often low. And the question of whether an investor is a sensible solution for your own start-up can be answered more calmly. We have not yet made a decision ourselves, because start-ups without physical products can also be financed with equity.
Géraldine Ulrichs and Janine Weirich already lived out this independence as schoolgirls when they applied for their first trade license. Various projects, from design contracts to the placement of trade fair personnel, followed. The two founders also gained experience as employees — but in the end the goal of professional independence remained. “That is of course also a heartfelt decision, you have to be the type for it. But with the right motivation and the support of others, the dream can become a reality, ”says Géraldine Ulrichs.