A broken mobile phone in the summer of 2018 was the impulse for "REELOQ", a patented belay tool for smartphones and co. I already summarized what I learned during my "tinkering phase" a year ago in the article "... from the idea to the product" for this blog.
A lot has happened since then. In this article, I summarize the journey of the last twelve months full of ups and downs into these five lessons:
1. Teamwork makes the dream work
2. Being nervous is good
3. No plan survives contact with reality
4. Seek cooperation partners
5. It’s about the Journey
Start-up lesson #1: Teamwork makes the dream work
When I was visiting the "Long Night of Young Business" and won the ticket to "2 Minuten 2 Millionen" (the name of a TV show – "2 minutes 2 million") at the Schlossberg and the recording date was getting closer and closer, I quickly realized that doing everything alone is hard!
As a TU Graz student of Mechanical Engineering and Business Economics, I found the perfect anchor in Julia Schadinger. Her studies in Management of International Business Processes at the FH Joanneum and her business know-how ideally complement my technical background. In addition, we are grateful to be able to draw on the valuable tips of experienced mentors, who we have got to know through various start-up events and organizations such as the Start-up Garage and the “Spritzer Start-up" of the Ideas Engine.
Start-up lesson #2: Being nervous is goodNervosität ist gut
Of course we were both extremely nervous shortly before our appearance. How will the investors react to our idea?
Together we faced the challenge in autumn 2019 and presented "REELOQ" to the jury of "2 Minuten 2 Millionen". Of course we were both extremely nervous shortly before our appearance. How will the investors react to our idea? Can we answer critical questions confidently despite being nervous?
In my opinion, the key to outwitting nervousness is to give it a different name and thus to value it differently! Instead of being "nervous", I can be "excited" and look forward to finally reaping the fruits of long preparations. Increased heartbeat as a symptom is of course natural.
But long story short - we were able to convince the investors and Hans-Peter Haselsteiner together with Mediashop boss Katharina Schneider made a joint offer after only a short time. An investment of 75,000 euros for 25.1 per cent company shares of the REELOQ GmbH. The construction tycoon sees the patented REELOQ system "as a new standard for work and operational clothing", because "the safety system can also increase work safety". Click here for the Pitch.
Start-up lesson #3: No plan survives contact with reality
There was more than half a year between recording and actual broadcast, which was enough time to set up the production, marketing and sales plan. What could possibly go wrong?
The corona-related delays in delivery would have meant that we would not have had our products available for broadcasting and at the same time for the market launch on May 12th.
Then corona arrived on the scene. Our producers ceased operations for over a month. The corona-related delays in delivery would have meant that we would not have had our products available for broadcasting and at the same time for the market launch on May 12th. Giving up was not an option for us. So we decided without further ado to assemble the first parts ourselves in countless night shifts. On the very day of the broadcast we sold the amount of REELOQs that we had actually planned for the summer. Our efforts paid off and with a little delay we were able to deliver our products.
Due to corona, Julia Schadinger and REELOQ founder Lukas Watzinger manufactured their pull cords themselves in night shifts.
In the end, the deal for the show did not materialize because it was not attractive enough for us in the renegotiations regarding essential details. It would only have meant short-term financial success for REELOQ, but we are committed to the long-term successful development of the company. Now Austrian private investors are on board and support the growth of REELOQ with know-how and capital.
Of course plans are important; the maxim "failing to plan is planning to fail" is not for nothing. However, you must always keep in mind: "No plan survives contact with the enemy", i.e. the hard ground of reality, especially in the time of COVID-19. Particularly in the start-up environment, you have to be agile to adapt to challenges. Corona taught us this lesson very early on.
Start-up lesson #4: Seek cooperation partners
In order to advance success further, cooperation partners are extremely important. Our partners now include the Alpine Association and the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association (ÖBFV), for whom we are the proud manufacturer of the exclusive Fire Department REELOQs. Besides our main focus on e-commerce (webshop and Amazon) we are also constantly expanding our distribution network and are now represented in all Gigasport branches in the retail trade. Thanks to our distribution network and partners, we were able to reach our annual target before the Christmas season, hence the tip seek out cooperation partners!
Thanks to our distribution network and partners, we were able to reach our annual target before the Christmas season, hence the tip seek out cooperation partners!
The REELOQ Adventure Package is available online and from local retailers.
Start-up lesson #5: It’s about the Journey
The path from idea to product is full of ups and downs, but every second in the "start-up adventure" is fun and the daily challenges always offer the chance to grow with it. NBA Champion Kobe Bryant sums it up perfectly in an interview: It’s about the journey, not the destination. A big goal is important, but the way to get there must be fun, then you have already won.
We are only at the beginning of our journey and have a lot more to do! In addition to the distribution of REELOQ Outdoor, we are currently part of the Science Park Academy. But more about that in the next article.
The Science Park is the high-tech incubator of the Graz universities and helps start-ups in the high-tech sector to succeed with their ideas.