Founders' Journal: Two Tales from EY Startup Academy

Christopher Dörner is one of three Sooqua co-founders.

Following the Story

In early October, seven fledgling companies from all over Germany began their EY Startup Academy education. This year’s class is made up of a wide mix of startup business ideas. These startups were selected after competing in a pitch competition in September. From 13 only seven made it into the EY program.

Over the following five weeks, we’ll track the progress of two startups from the group – suprtrue and Sooqua. We’ll ask the founders questions about their past, present and future.

>> suprtrue – week one

Sooqua

“Sooqua is a Predictive-Maintenance-Tool that analyzes sensor data within (water) supply networks using machine learning algorithms and thus localizes leakages in an early stage, shows the networks status in real-time as well as predictions of pipe bursts. Our SaaS-solution makes repairs plannable and cost efficient and thus enables the supplier to maintain a reliable and sustainable pipe network.”

Week Two – Q&A

Q: What does your startup need now?
A: Right now we need legal and tax advices most urgent since we are about to found our own GmbH end of this year. So far we had two legal coaches who helped us a lot to know the potential difficulties that we could face during this process. We just got pre-seed financing, so our search for financial resources is not very urgent. We use the pitch training to be prepared for investor/vc-talks in the beginning of next year. We’d also like to have an external point-of-view about our business idea and want to profit from EY’s international knowledge and network.

Q: What keeps you awake at night?
A: While working the tasks for the next days and strategic opportunities we could look into keep me from falling asleep.
On holidays warm and starlit nights by the ocean with a cold beer in my hand, meetings with friends and an interesting chat or snoring people in hostels keep me awake.

A: Whom do you admire?
Q:
I admire all the founders who took the hard way and chose to work hard to found their own company and to realize their dreams. Especially people who founded their companies without having great investors from the beginning on and were struggling to survive financially but still made it.

Q: Who is your biggest supporter?
A: Of course, each team member motivates all the others and supports where she or he can. Furthermore, our friends and families are helping us to keep going and HIGHEST, the Entrepreneurship Cluster of TU Darmstadt supports us where ever they see the chance to.

Q: Is this fun?
A: Working with innovative and smart people is always inspiring and fun. That’s why working with entrepreneurs is a privilege. It is also hard work at the same time and not always easy but with a little humor everything is doable

Q: Do you have any comments about what you’ve learned this week?
A: We learned how to build a financial report so that investors can have a quick insight into the key figures and KPIs of our companies. Additionally, we got information how to build up a brand which represents the dream of the founders and the core idea of our business explained in an easy understandable way. 


Week One – Q&A

Q: What does your startup need now?

A: Right now we need legal and tax advices most urgent since we are about to found our own GmbH end of this year. So far we had two legal coaches who helped us a lot to know the potential difficulties that we could face during this process. We just got pre-seed financing, so our search for financial resources is not very urgent. We use the pitch training to be prepared for investor/vc-talks in the beginning of next year. We’d also like to have an external point-of-view about our business idea and want to profit from EY’s international knowledge and network.

Q: What inspires your team to continue?

A: We would like to help solve one of the biggest upcoming problems for our society. Due to population growth, urbanization and climate change, an increasing number of cities and regions will suffer from water stress in the next decade. The UN expects, that by 2030 the possible water supply will be 40% below the actual necessary demand. That’s why we want to help find a solution for this problem, increasing the efficiency of utilities and thus making water supply more sustainable.

Q: Do you all think that you have personality traits that will help you be successful?
A: We do think that we are an interdisciplinary and international team with complementary knowledge and personality traits. We are all very ambitious and are working hard to bring the project into reality. We motivate each other and push ourselves while still having fun working with each other and not taking life too seriously.

Q: What is your general outlook about Sooqua today?

A: We would like to develop a predictive maintenance tool, which sets new standards within pipe monitoring. We do not only want to develop our solution for just water utilities, but also for gas/oil-pipelines, district heating and the producing industry that uses pipes.

About the Founders

Sooqua is a young team made up up graduates from Technische Universität Darmstadt and University of Trento. This team was named “People’s Choice” winners during the pitch competition last September.

Christopher Dörner: Co-Founder with a MSc in Industrial Engineering from TU Darmstadt and is the deal-maker. He is responsible for the business part of the startup and organizes everything from customer acquisition and marketing over financing to strategic topics. Chris has already worked in a Software-StartUp

Valerie Fehst: Co-Founder with a MSc in Physics from TU Darmstadt and the Gyro Gearloose. She is responsible for developing the product and basically doing the innovative part. She is transferring the real-world problem into a mathematical and physical model. Valerie has already worked in an IoT-StartUp.

Tri-Duc Nghiem: Co-Founder with a MSc in Software Engineering from Uni Triento (Italy) and the code-runner. He is responsible for implementing the product into code and making the software run smoothly. With more than 7 years of experience in implementing Machine Learning algorithms, he is an expert in his field. He also loves to run marathons. Duc has already worked in corporates and IoT StartUps