Alumni Interviews

What was it like to start a business?

What hurdles were there, what successes? What advice would you have liked to have received yourself – and passed on?
These questions are answered in interviews conducted by the WiSo Faculty and Dr. Valerie Lukassen with some of our successful founders. Maybe you will find one or two tips for your personal founder story!


Startup SUMTEQ GmbH was founded in 2014 by Dr. Alexander Müller, Dr. Roland Oberhoffer and Michael Hoffmann. SUMTEQ produces polymer nanofoams with excellent insulating properties using a patented process. GATEWAY has supported the founders from the very beginning. Valerie Lukassen talked to Alexander Müller about the challenges of founding a company as a scientist. More information here!
The furniture trade in Germany is currently undergoing a radical change. Large furniture stores are engaged in cut-throat competition. In addition, furniture sales are also shifting more and more to the Internet. The GATEWAY alumni Christoph Ritschel and Dennis Franken from MöbelFirst are successful in the furniture trade with their innovative business concept.

Valerie Lukassen from GATEWAY spoke with Christoph Ritschel about the challenges as an e-commerce startup in a traditional market.More information here!
Marc Stratmann and Peter Praeder met during their studies at the University of Cologne. Their entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness combined from the very beginning. With their software fragPAUL they want to facilitate personnel management in the gastronomy sector. Valerie Lukassen from GATEWAY spoke with Marc Stratmann about the ups and downs of startup life. More information here!
"Which way?" - "Wait, I'll go and check GoogleMaps..." Such dialogues take place countless times a day. We have long been used to being shown the way by apps and navigation devices. Without them we would be disoriented and lost. But this is exactly what happens quickly when you move outside the public space - on private or company premises, for example. These are at best incompletely captured in GoogleMaps or other software - they are literally white spots on digital maps. More information here!
Tanja Nickel and Katharina Obladen are founders and managing directors of the start-up UVIS UV-Innovative Solutions GmbH from Cologne. With their product ESCALITE, they have developed a patented disinfection module for the handrails of escalators. GATEWAY accompanied and supported the innovative founders on their way. Valerie Lukassen from GATEWAY talked to Tanja Nickel about the success story of UVIS.More information here!

University of Cologne Alumni

What to do with goods that are still as good as new but cannot be sold due to incorrect labelling, for example? How can you prevent such goods from being simply disposed of? Our alumna Dr. Juliane Kronen dealt with this topic. She became active - and founded innatura gGmbH, which offers sustainable alternatives for the recycling of goods.More information here!
Our alumna Melanie Croyé has been working as a freelance journalist, author and speaker in Berlin since 2010. In addition to her studies in economics and political science at the WiSo Faculty of the University of Cologne, she also learned her journalistic "craft" at the Cologne School of Journalism for Politics and Economics.
She is an expert in Entrepreneurial Journalism, as well as in all aspects around the female career, compatibility and feminism. More information here!
Our alumna Adela Kadiric (born 2010) is an economist and founder of She sees herself as a start-up founder and entrepreneur. In addition to, Adela Kadiric co-founded other companies in 2016. She wants to encourage other people to start their own business - even if the conditions often seem difficult. We talked to her about her path as a start-up founder. She also gives valuable tips for our students.More information here!
Our alumnus Johannes Partz (business administration diploma course, graduation year 2008) is co-founder and managing director of the Cologne start-up Flü, the first liquid gas portal in Germany.
The young start-up company brings together interested parties for liquid gas, liquid gas tanks and liquid gas plants with liquid gas suppliers.
We spoke with Johannes Partz about the emergence and further development of liquid Beyond that it told us, how working in a start-up is in such a way. More information here!
The Cologne alumna Sandra Navidi belongs to the global financial elite. In 2017 the lawyer, professional networker and author was included in the exclusive list of LinkedIn Influencers. In an interview, she reveals what networking is all about. More information here!
Simon Marqua is an alumnus of the WiSo faculty and founder and managing director of the Cologne-based online marketing agency TrafficDesign. Already during his studies in business informatics, he supported companies freelance in the field of search engine optimization and programming, before TrafficDesign GmbH emerged, whose team today offers services around the topic of online marketing for its own customers. More information here!
Our alumnus Alexander Weinzetl (Dipl.-BWL) is co-founder of the Cologne-based start-up The start-up company went online in 2009 and recently made headlines when it became known that Dr. Oetker was investing in the Cologne-based company.

We talked to Alexander Weinzetl about the creation and development of and how working in a start-up is like. In addition it gives valuable Tipps to our studying!More information here!
Robert Müller-Grünow is an alumnus of the WiSo faculty and founder and CEO of scentcommunication. Since his graduation in business administration (diploma course) in 1997, he has been working in Cologne in the field of fragrance marketing and deals with Scent Technologies and Scent Communication. His customers come from different industries: From the beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola to the aviation company Lufthansa or the sporting goods manufacturer adidas. We talked to him about his work in the field of fragrance marketing, his return to the WiSo faculty as a guest lecturer and his favourite place at Cologne University. More information here!
The Cologne alumnus Marco Zingler heads denkwerk, one of the most creative and renowned German digital agencies. In an interview, he explains what successful entrepreneurs are all about. More information here!