Katharina Riederer is CEO and co-founder of Pointless Travel, a young start-up whose mission is to help companies in reducing their travel costs as well as the corresponding CO2 footprint. With their employee-inclusive software, the team offers a comprehensive solution to reduce travel costs by 20-30% and save CO2 emissions by rewarding employees for conscious choices. The creative minds behind Pointless Travel made a conscious decision as well. The Munich-based team chose to take advantage of the start-up support in Aachen by participating in Batch #2 of the RWTH Incubation Program earlier this year. In April 2021, even before the 4-month Incubation Program was over, the team received the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. Now, Katharina and her teammates are finalising the establishment of their start-up. In this interview, Katharina walks us through her entrepreneurial story.
1) WHY MY IDEA IS GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD:
In order to fight climate change, we need to change our behaviour tremendously! However, we cannot enforce every behaviour. This is why our solution will make a change. Our vision is to become the key driver in the transition to more conscious and sustainable business travel in today’s connected world. Through our software, we empower business travellers to make conscious choices, enabling their employers to reduce carbon emissions and costs.
2) DID I CHOOSE IT OR DID IT CHOOSE ME?
I chose it and I am reflecting nearly every day why I keep on choosing it.
3) BIGGEST CHALLENGE ON MY ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY SO FAR:
The biggest challenge is to synthesise one truth from so many different opinions that you will hear about your project.
4) LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED AS A FOUNDER:
It is infinitely more important to have a great team than a great idea. A great team will pivot even the worst idea to a great one. But a great idea will never succeed with a bad team. It’s about the people and the execution of the idea, not the idea itself that anyone else might have had while showering.
5) HOW DID I FINANCE MYSELF? (BUSINESS MODEL)
We were able to raise more than €200,000 without giving up any equity. This is a great basis for bridging the first steps of the product development. Our business model is based on a SaaS fee that we charge our customers per user per month.
6) 5 YEARS FROM NOW WE WILL …
have avoided several thousand tons of CO2 being emitted by having changed the mindset of thousands of business travellers towards more conscious choices.
7) IF I WEREN’T A FOUNDER, I WOULD BE …
restricted in my full potential by boarders of established systems.
8) WHAT DO I NEED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?
Resilience and the awareness that chance is a significant share of what determines the success of your project. It’s all about increasing the probability of a chance that will propel your business forward.
9) RWTH INNOVATION HELPED ME WITH/THROUGH …
valuable contacts to start-up experts.
10) IS THERE ANYTHING MORE THAT COULD BE DONE FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN AACHEN?
I am surprised by all the different initiatives and didn’t find a gap yet that would need to be filled urgently.
11) 3 REASONS TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR:
- Continuous learning
- Choosing who you want to work with
12) TO ME BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR MEANS …
being fully responsible for every choice you make, be it product-wise or regarding work-life balance.
13) MY FAVOURITE DIGITAL TOOL:
There are actually two that changed my work life significantly: Calendly & Superhuman.
14) I AM INSPIRED BY/MY ROLE MODEL IS …
every friend who makes bold decisions.
15) MY ADVICE TO WOMEN WHO ASPIRE TO BE ENTREPRENEURS:
Just do it! Really!