Startups pay enough for engineers

Handling a highly complex satellite project via email, Word and Excel? There is also a better way, thought Marco Witzmann and developed the web-based software Valispace. His young company won the KfW Entrepreneurship Award 2018 in Bremen.

Engineers have been using document-based processes since the 1960s. Since then, the process of carefully writing everything down in thousands and thousands of documents has really only changed one thing: the computer keyboard replaced the typewriter. At the same time, the processes have become many times more complex. “After my studies, I worked as a satellite engineer,” says Marco Witzmann, co-founder and CEO of Valispace GmbH. "Instead of high-tech, a clutter of data awaited me."

Bring order into the data chaos with Valispace

The problem: Many companies and suppliers are working simultaneously on a project as complex as building a satellite. Years of planning create a jumble of data and documents. Data managers try to master these documents. "But it is impossible to rule out discrepancies and contradictions among so many different actors," explains the graduate engineer. “Data managers are hired to manage the problem.” There was no real solution.

“Above all, every start-up should do one thing to create value: identify and solve real-world problems. If you solve your own, you are sure that there will be a first customer. "(Marco Witzmann)


Witzmann decided to program a solution himself. He set to work to develop web-based software. On the one hand, it should be complex and intelligent enough to work on projects such as satellite construction across many companies. On the other hand, the engineers should be able to handle them easily and not require a long training period.

"In this process, it was important for me to get in touch with other aerospace engineers and to find comrades-in-arms for my start-up," said the Valispace founder. Witzmann found like-minded people at various events, workshops and meetings on the subject of start-ups in the aerospace industry in Bremen. A delegation trip from Bremen took him to the Mecca of high-tech start-ups Silicon Valley in the summer of 2016. “It was great to make so many business contacts,” says Witzmann. “The problem is still that the big space companies are hesitant to work with start-ups. Even in Silicon Valley there is still room for improvement. ”B2B networking is very important for these complex projects.


Country winner of the KfW Founders Award 2018

Bremen is the aerospace capital in Germany. "This is where Valispace's major and potential customers are," says Witzmann. Winning an important start-up award showed him that he is on the right track with his young software company. In summer 2018, the engineer applied for the KfW Bankengruppe Entrepreneurship Award. KfW has been awarding this award to young companies in the first five years of their business activity since 1998. They can come from any industry. A jury consisting of representatives from KfW, politics and business selects the best business ideas from each federal state. There is also a national winner, an audience winner and a special prize for “Social Entrepreneurship”. The start-ups receive these prizes at the opening event of the German Founders and Entrepreneurs Days, deGUT for short, in Berlin. Witzmann convinced the jury with Valispace and is this year's state winner for Bremen. The start-up received further support from the High-Tech Gründerfonds. The investment was one million euros.

The young software company has also already won over large aerospace companies. For example, Airbus uses Valispace to make data-driven decisions about which technologies and research to invest in. Last year the Valispace team grew from three to twelve employees. When asked about his further plans for the future, Witzmann replies: “With Valispace, we also want to support engineers from other industries, because they are reporting the same problems. Our focus will continue to be on technically complex products that are manufactured in small numbers. "

Start-up landscape on the Weser

The events in Bremen in particular helped the Valispace boss to generate more start-up knowledge and to make new business contacts, sums up Witzmann. For many founders it is important to have contact points to get the right knowledge at the right time. But where should you go first to get some initial information about starting a business? And where do you go when things get serious? The one-stop agency Starthaus Bremen takes care of these questions for those interested in founding a company. As the central point of contact, the Starthaus provides advice on the business plan, funding and financing options and guides you to suitable positions in the Starthaus start-up network. In this mentoring function, the start-up company accompanies start-ups from the idea to beyond the establishment. The advice is confidential and free of charge for everyone.

Feel free to write us an email at i[email protected] or call us at +49 (0) 421 9600 372 if you have any questions about your start-up (ideae). We have the answers.


Above: The three Valispace founders (from left to right): Louise Lindblad, Simon Vanden Bussche, Marco Witzmann © Valispace UG (limited liability)