How It All Started
The Founders Foundation was founded by Sebastian Borek (Cofounder) and Dominik Gross (Cofounder & Managing Director) in 2016 as a non-profit subsidiary of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
The driving force behind our foundation was the willigness to train a new generation of visionary founders, to use all the potential of the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region, and to increase startup affinity outside of Germany’s big metropolitan areas.
We have accomplished much since our foundation:
Reinhard Mohn, the founder of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, understood early on that adaptability and risk are both a natural part of conducting business.
In an age defined by exponential technological progress, the skill to adapt to market situations is key to secure long-term competitiveness. Reinhard Mohn embodied this principle in his entrepeneurial activities.
At the same time, the German entrepeneurial culture has been changing increasingly. Young, talented entrepreneurs were leaving remote regions to move into major cities where they could make use of the infrastructure and the cultural und educational opportunities to further their careers and their personal character growth.
The Big Idea Behind the Project
Reinhard Mohn’s visionary ideas combined with the situation that talented tech founders have been leaving non-urban areas, were the key factors for the Bertelsmann Stiftung to launch the Founders Foundation.
For the Mohn family, promoting entrepreneurial action combined with a responsibility towards society is a matter of the heart – as imagined by founder Reinhard Mohn himself.
By creating the Founders Foundation as a pilot project for Germany and investing into the region of Ostwestfalen-Lippe, the Mohn family, as a family with a long entrepeneurial tradition, demonstrates that they are more than willing to take up their societal responsibility .
Supporting Individual Talents
In the spirit of this idea, the non-profit organization’s foundational team, consisting of Dominik Gross and Sebastian Borek, has always made the support of talented entrepreneurs the center of its efforts, right from the beginning.
The beneficiaries of our support are not the startups in themselves but the individual talents behind them – we want them to achieve their personal potential. The founders foundations trains talents, supports their ideas and helps with problem scenarios. Using this approach, entrepeneurship and startup formation become tangible and learnable skills.
Bielefeld As a Blueprint For Other Regions
We are working to make Bielefeld the forefront of promoting and connecting outstanding tech talents. To give startups support that is both long-term and extends beyond local limits, we want to make the region a best practice example for other startup locations.
For this purpose, we are building an extensive ecosystem as a blueprint for other regions.
Anniversary – #5yrsFF
It has been five years since our founders Sebastian Borek & Dominik Gross launched the Founders Foundation together with the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Ever since, we have been able to realize and initiate many great projects.
We are incredibly thankful to all companions, founders and visionary talents who are walking this journey with us and are helping us fulfil our mission.
Five years were only the first chapter – there are more and greater stories to come!
Startup formations are clustered in metropolitan areas such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. For founders, these cities provide both an attractive infrastructure and proximity to other startups.
This leads to regions outside of major conurbations being overtaken, altough they are home to many established global players and potential customers to startups.
In Ostwestfalen-Lippe, the Founders Foundation has made the consolidation, development, and support of local talent its mission. That way, the region’s strength can be leveraged in a unique B2B startup ecosystem – because Bielefeld is the beating heart of the German Mittelstand.
We are living in one of Germany’s most exciting B2B regions – 120.00 companies are calling the region their home, among them countless Hidden Champions who are just waiting to be discovered.
We support local founders and connect them with experienced players from the German Mittelstand so that they can launch visionary projects which strengthen the impact and competetiveness of regions outside of major conurbations.
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