Mr. von Wendt, you were just voted “Content Startup of the Year”. Did this come as a surprise?
Let’s just say I didn’t expect it at all. I had hoped we would at least make it to the final round. I knew it was going to be a gamble after that, because every other nominated startup deserved to get the prize as much as we did. It can’t have been easy for the jury to make its decision. It was great that EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger was at the final pitch. He was very interested in Papego and asked us very detailed questions. The fact that he was there gave the whole event a different dimension and we were truly honoured to be a part of it.
If we take a look back at the past couple of months, what was it like participating in CONTENTshift?
We had a lot of fun. As a startup, we always work really hard and experience a lot of setbacks, so it was nice to get to know other startups that have similar experiences. We found out that it’s just part of the whole process. It was also a great and very comfortable experience in terms of the people we met. Plus it definitely gave us a major boost, first and foremost because we worked as a team to find solutions to hard questions. However, the most important thing by far were the contacts we made to jury members, coaches and other CONTENTshift partners. These conversations and contacts are very valuable to us and we’ll definitely continue to pursue them in the future. Plus the jurors and coaches never failed to push us and question things we hadn’t noticed ourselves, which prompted a pretty intense development process. For example, we figured out that Papego’s application area is much broader than we’d previously thought. And, of course, there was also intense media coverage and a professional public relations campaign accompanying the competition, which helped us tremendously as a startup.
What’s next for Papego in concrete terms?
The first thing we have to do is get back to reality after all the excitement. The book industry is still the book industry, which means that we still have to convince each publisher book by book. Thanks to CONTENTshift, we now have the momentum we need. But we have to stay realistic about things. The industry sure could use more of the CONTENTshift spirit. In any case, a number of very interesting doors opened up for us thanks to our work with the jury. We don’t have anything concrete yet, but we’re engaged in discussions about potential cooperative activities.
Is the prize money going to help at all?
For sure. At the moment, we’re still financing the venture privately and living off our savings. In other words, €10,000 is a considerable amount that’s going to give us more staying power.
What would you say to startups thinking about participating in CONTENTshift next year?
I would tell them to definitely get involved! It’s worth it just to participate. Even if you don’t make it to the final round, it’s great to be able to flesh out your pitch together with experts. I’m an author, too, and one of the things that really helped when I first started writing were writing competitions. I would get better with every competition. This is exactly the way it worked with the pitches – each one you do makes you better. It’s possible to draw attention to your company just by participating. The jury was made up of very interesting industry experts who covered all sectors. It’s great to have contact to them now, plus you learn a lot by presenting your company to them. After that, the challenge is to make the best out of your own idea and firmly believe it can work.
Well it all worked out perfectly for Papego – congratulations once again!
Thank you! One thing I’d like to say is that I’m sincerely impressed by the passionate commitment of the entire Börsenverein team. They put so much work into trying to push the industry forward and forge productive links among all the players. Not every industry association would do this. The entire CONTENTshift programme is managed in a highly professional way that makes it advantageous for everyone involved. Thanks for that.
Interview: Christiane Petersen