Start-up meets SME

New business models off the beaten track

Digital.Hub Logistics gives start-in META & YOU room for innovation

“We are doing pioneering work,” Kerstin Herdtle says with a smile. The Manager Digital Innovation & Technology at META-Regalbau GmbH & Co. KG has been blazing new trails for her company since July 2018: She is head of the start-in META & YOU, dedicated to expanding strategic partnerships and opening up new business areas. She finds support at Digital Hub Logistics in Dortmund, which offers start-ins an ecosystem consisting of research & education, industry, and SMEs for their future-oriented innovations. Outside fixed structures and product development processes, young digital teams get the room they need here to think their ideas through and implement them.

Professional feedback

“In the Digital Hub Logistics, we have access to an extensive network, obtain professional feedback, and compare notes with other start-ins,” Kerstin Herdtle says. What challenges are others facing? What are possible methods of resolution? What is successful? In the Digital.Hub Logistics, start-ins work together and benefit from each other. At the same time, close communication with the parent company is a prerequisite for the introduction of new business models.

Thinking ahead

A prerequisite that is often accompanied by a lot of persuading. Kerstin Herdtle knows this from personal experience: “It is important to get company management and the colleagues involved, and to jointly find ways to transfer ideas and new products into the company and establish them.” Otherwise the ideas and innovations generated by the start-in are at risk of “dissipating” unused. In order to prevent this, Kerstin Herdtle regularly seeks personal dialogue, organizes workshops in the Digital Hub, and has established an innovation corner at the parent company META in Arnsberg. “Demonstrating that we want to think not only about today and tomorrow, but further into the future, is important to me,” the 27-year-old explains.

Avoiding old structures

She is therefore choosing novel approaches for META & YOU, trying different things, and continuing to develop the start-in step by step. “Everything is new. There are no predetermined ways yet,” is how Kerstin Herdtle sums it up. A task that demands great discipline, independence, and personal responsibility. “The authority to choose the direction is tremendously important for a start-in,” Herdtle says. Project plans still have to be prepared and targets coordinated with company management. However: How the start-in achieves these targets should not be controlled “from above”. “Otherwise one falls into the structures one originally wanted to avoid,” the Manager Digital Innovation & Technology is certain.

Initial success

The results so far show that the path taken by META & YOU leads in the right direction. Numerous projects have been initiated, initial successes are becoming apparent. Such as the cooperation with MotionMiners GmbH for example. META & YOU is currently developing a distribution partnership with the Dortmund-based start-up, which will be launched in February. META sales representatives are going to present and offer MotionMiners products. META & YOU hopes to optimize internal META processes in cooperation with two other start-ups. “We would like to develop a strategic partnership here as well,” explains Kerstin Herdtle, who has one tip above all for the innovation teams of other companies: “Just go for it and start,” she says. “The Digital Hub was a great help to us.”