Together through the crisis

Together through the crisis: tips and opportunities for startups

While some were already looking worriedly at China at the beginning of the year, for others it came unexpectedly: the Corona crisis. It hit the global economy to an extent that no one initially expected. Suddenly, even established companies have to fear for their existence and startups are affected greatly. Out of this need, an unprecedented discourse has emerged that connects startups from different industries and many other actors and institutions. The common goal: to survive the Corona crisis unscathed.

Everything has stopped

The corona crisis hits startups particularly hard because their structures are geared towards growth. “Startups generally have no reserves, they continuously develop their business model and mostly live from hand to mouth when it comes to money,” says Johannes Berg, Managing Director of Digital Hub Logistics in Hamburg. Malte Fritsche, Bitkom startup consultant, is also familiar with the startups’ current problems: “With the partners, everything has come to a standstill, orders are being frozen. With a few exceptions, sales collapse overnight. ” The crisis is extremely existential for many, investors are withdrawing, financing rounds will not come about, “this will continue for awhile,” predicts Fritsche.


Various startup aids were quickly launched. Berg and Fritsche view this in part critically: “In my opinion, aid packages are only helpful if they are given quickly and unbureaucratically to those startups who, due to their organic growth, have experienced financial difficulties due to the crisis, which they previously would not have had due to a healthy order and customer base,”explains Berg. Other measures, such as short-time work benefits or loans only help a few startups. “Because of their focus on growth, startups have to continue in the crisis in order to survive and establish themselves in the market,” Fritsche explains, and conventional credit rating standards do not apply to startups. “They are growth-oriented and only do a lot in the first few years rarely profits. For banks, they are therefore not suitable for credit.” Both agree that smaller companies should benefit from help and not just VC-supported startups. Dr. Gerold Kreuter, managing director of FiDT Fördergesellschaft für innovative Dienste und Technik GmbH and vice president of BVIZ Bundesverband Deutscher Innovations-, Technologie- und Gründerzentrum e. V., sees it similarly and criticizes: “Startups that are at the very beginning and have great ideas are currently having great difficulty in getting the necessary funding.” Malte Fritsche sums up: “There are instruments that help, but they have to be available at short notice. All involved are working hard on solutions, now the pace must be kept.

Startups exchange ideas

New channels for addressing potential customers and investors are opened up, networking and exchange take place digitally. The dialogue between startups is particularly important, but also between startups and organizations. “The exchange helps to find out how which startup is dealing with the situation and to thereby receive new energy and inspiration,” says Johannes Berg. Bitkom has a high demand on the side of the startups: “We have moved traditional meetups into the digital space and offer current topics for founders. Of course, this includes best practice examples, but also information events that are very well received. Of course, in our function we are always in contact with the startups in various committees.”

Tips for startups

There is no patent recipe for the way out of the crisis, but Berg, Fritsche and Kreuter still have tips for startups and see the crisis as an opportunity. Malte Fritsche continues to advise exchanges with founders and investors. He also recommends open communication with all stakeholders. Dr. Gerold Kreuter emphasizes: “Finding an exchange is the most important thing. It is about finding out how others are dealing with the crisis, but also about finding new cooperation partners or addressing new customers,” the crisis and its side effects, for example work from the home office, could also provide more creative approaches. Johannes Berg also sees opportunities in the crisis: “Even in a crisis, startups should try to keep a cool head and become more aware of their strengths: speed, innovative spirit and courage! Because then the crisis can also be a catalyst.”

doks an der KLU

Digital Hub Logistics: The digital Hub Logistics, based in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, unites companies, startups, research and education in one place. As part of the BMWI-funded, Germany-wide network DE: hub Initiative with 12 competence locations, they specifically link founders and innovators with the medium-sized logistics sector.

Startup-Initivative, Bitkom: The startup initiative of the digital association Bitkom is committed to founders, managing directors and employees of startups and represents their interests towards politics. They are committed to better framework conditions for founders in Germany and offer platforms and committees for exchange.

FiDT Fördergesellschaft für innovative Dienstleistungen und Techniken mbH: The FiDT Technology and Start-Up Center supports technology-oriented, innovative start-ups, startups and young companies. At the location in Kassel, the center offers network and infrastructure and premises.