The Startup Incubation Program by HHL DIGITAL SPACE

Get to know our 12-week Startup Incubation Program

The HHL DIGITAL SPACE is a tech incubator dedicated to supporting and enabling early-stage startup teams to turn innovative ideas into validated, out-of-the-box solutions. Our 12- week startup incubation program is at the core of our activities to foster entrepreneurship.

As a founder, you might wonder: Where is the starting point for my business? What do I need to consider before I can approach my first customers? Is my product idea the right fit for the market need? How much funding will I need to turn my idea into reality? What are the next steps on my entrepreneurial journey?

To answer these questions and get support, founders may want to join a startup accelerator or startup incubator program. Based on scientific research, we developed our 12-weeks program, that provides structure where it is needed, while at the same time offering enough room for creativity. Our teams benefit from proven concepts and structured guidance that are tailored to start-ups in their early stages.  

Start with the problem, not the solution

Over the course of 12 weeks, you will use agile methods and structure to develop a solution in an iterative process. Paired with analytical and empirical methods, you will work closely with the incubation team. In addition, you will go through many feedback loops from external and internal experts, focus groups, or customers. Our focus during 12 weeks is as simple as complex: Finding your Problem-Solution Fit. Based on a thorough evaluation you will be able to decide whether to pursue or to pivot. We believe that having validated your problem-solution fit will be a strong foundation to build your startup sustainably. 

Many startups develop great products or services, put a lot of heart, soul, and energy into building structures, and manage to convince first supporters. In the end, they still fail when going to market because they didn’t meet the needs of the target group.   

Bring structure into your entrepreneurial pursuit

We meet these diverse challenges of teams in early phases with our startup incubation program that is structured into four sprints. Sprints are set time periods. They start with a kick-off and end with a review of the generated output. They contain defined steps with concrete deliverables. Deliverables are tools and templates from entrepreneurial science and practice proven to be of value during incubation processes. In some cases, the deliverables are carried out in the team, in the whole group, or in collaboration with experts. This structure makes our incubation program special and distinguishes us while being backed by HHL Graduate Leipzig School of Management’s entrepreneurship expertise and research.  

Irrespective of the industry you tackle, the program helps you to dive deep into the following focus areas: market & story, business model & strategy, and tech stack & scalability. In sprint one, we explore the problem and the people who are affected by it, which will then be validated in sprint two. The goal is to identify and reveal personal bias and assumptions, erase false friends, and only move forward in the founding process with a validated hypothesis on the nature of the problem, the market opportunity, and the value you bring to customers. These initial two sprints are important, to prevent building up a base that later proves itself as invalid.  By following this structure sustainable success is not a matter of chance and coincidence, but of analytical research.  

Great start-ups are made from data

The basis for the 3rd sprint is the outcome of the previous two sprints: a clearly defined and validated problem, a data-backed estimate of your market opportunity, and a vision of your value proposition, for which we in sprint 3 and 4 develop and design the solution(s) together with potential customers and/or partners.  Also, the last two sprints are conducted as iterative processes to discover, build, and design the best possible (customer-centered) solution.  

In sprint 4, you also conceptualize your future roadmap to scale, as we prepare you for your take-off after the 12 weeks. The last sprint ends with the preparation of your pitch for the Launch Day. Here, we attract a lot of public interest, first investors and it’s your chance to rise and shine.  

Now, you have the chance to present your solution with a polished pitch developed during the incubation program, attract investors, acquire first employees, and get set for your startup’s launch. Of course, as an alumnus of the program, the HHL DIGITAL SPACE crew will be there to build bridges after the program. We’re here to help customer-centered, hypothesis-driven and fully dedicated.

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