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Innovation as an Answer to the Crisis

After a vast amount of virtual meetings, many employees are experiencing fatigue towards video calls. Often virtual events cannot keep up with real experiences, and interpersonal exchange falls by the wayside. The team of Streavent offers a solution: With a personalizable and technologically sophisticated streaming platform, events can (re-)gain character and become a real experience for the participants. The story shows, besides all the serious consequences the pandemic has brought with it, the crisis is also a time for pioneers. We talked to the founder Lysander Homm, who is studying Management and Technology at the TUM School of Management, about the power of innovation and the role of the university.

The founders of Streavent: Felix Schwencke, Lennart Paul and Lysander Homm

The crisis due to the coronavirus has made it clear, unforeseen events can change orders and structures within a very short time. The founders of Streavent Lysander Homm, Felix Schwencke and Lennart Paul experienced this insight very personally. The TUM students were all in or about to start their semester abroad and had to come back to Germany due to the spreading virus. “Corona cancelled all of our plans. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a changed world where we were just jumping from one video-call to the next one,” reports Homm. But quickly they realized that this new reality also had the potential to change how virtual events work. “The character of events and organizers was often lost. We asked ourselves: How can we improve it?”

Identifying problems and finding solutions

Problem-oriented thinking and the courage to try something new are two learnings that the TUM School of Management offers its students. “My innovation major focuses on how to recognize problems and understand their core. If this insight is given, solutions can be created with the help of technology and innovative means. This is one of the central aspects of entrepreneurship,” Homm reports. The pioneering spirit lies in the DNA of the TUM, which teaches its students to identify problems in society and to look for solutions by finding innovation.

With this knowledge from university, the founders showed their sense for entrepreneurship – by embracing change and thinking ahead. The Streavent project was launched just one week after their return to Germany. “For me, innovation means bringing together ideas and technologies and to apply it in new areas. At Streavent, innovation consists of combining existing things to create new types of virtual event platforms,” explains Homm. “The concept of video calls, websites and virtual stands already existed. But we’re bringing the different elements together to offer a new solution.” The streaming platform can be personalized. In a phase of consultancy, customers can share their ideas and learn about new digital possibilities. There are a lot of opportunities; in addition to broadcasting lectures, the portfolio includes workshop tools, virtual exhibition stands, video elements and functions such as 360-degree product demonstrations. The focus is always on interactive elements to create a shared experience instead of a frontal lecture.

In product development, the spotlight must always be on future customers and their needs. The team of Streavent tested different target groups. Homm points out: “At first we spoke to the retail trade, driving schools and yoga teachers. In a typical start-up process, we came up with a lot of theses and then found that not everything did work out in the end.”

Little by little, it became clear to the founders that event organizers who had previously organized real life events could benefit from their service. “Our customers’ needs vary widely”, Homm remarks. “We have worked with large corporations like Philips, which have completely different needs than, for example, the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Understanding the customer is key for us.”

The transition of an offline event into a virtual event is another great challenge. “Nobody likes to sit in front of a computer for eight hours and has the capacity to listen to presentations all day long,” explains Homm. Virtual events must therefore be shortened to essential content and at the same time increase interaction. This is possible by increasing the exchange between participants or by including videos and interactive elements. For sure, you always have to keep in mind who is the target group and find suitable offers.

Company and university – double burden or enrichment?

Homm and his colleagues, who met at the Manage and More scholarship, are currently facing a double burden. Schwencke and Paul are also still studying – mechanical engineering and computer science at the TUM.

Homm emphasizes: “In my opinion, the TUM is exactly the right place to start a company. The UnternehmerTUM and programs like Manage and More helps you to make your first steps and you meet other like-minded people.” But starting a business even before you graduate from university also brings some difficulties. “I realize that it is more than a full-time job. “It is a challenge to manage everything at one time. But sometimes you just have to seize an opportunity and try. If it’s going to work you only know afterwards anyway.”

What role will Streavent play in the post-pandemic period? The young entrepreneurs are confident: “In many conversations I notice that people’s attitudes are changing. In April, many still believed that with the end of the pandemic, the virtual events would be a thing from the past. I also strongly believe in encounters in real life that cannot be replaced. Nevertheless, many people realize that virtual events can supplement face-to-face meetings.”

The structure of events could also be rethought in this way. They are no longer tied to time and place, but rather focus on the topics and contents. The team of Streavent has helped to innovate events and contributed to using the crisis as a starting point for change.

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