Martin Hahn, Business Economics (Management) student and founder of ONVARD GmbH, reports on one’s own initiative, esteem and the entrepreneurial spirit of Witten/Herdecke University

Good reasons for Witten

I used to think that founding a business, pursuing visions and developing own strategies will start after graduating, if at all. Since I have started studying at Witten/Herdecke University, however, I know that this doesn’t have to be the case.

At UW/H I developed my preference for being self-employed and for real entrepreneurship. During the time I took my A-levels I already registered a small business and implemented small IT projects together with other freelancers. I carried this activity on during my studies - and this is how I came into contact with other university start-ups.

One of the best experiences during my studies was participating in the 'GründerWerkstatt'. Within one semester I had the opportunity to put into action all I had learned in the courses before: creating a business plan, marketing, accounting, financing. An exciting overall view emerged. Some of the ideas developed in this context resulted in the founding of real businesses later on.

Not the way expected

I didn’t want to start studying directly after taking my A-levels but decided to do a seven-month internship at a small IT company. Choosing a university was not urgent after all. As chance would have it, however, my supervisor at that company was a Witten Alumnus. He advised me to inform myself about Witten/Herdecke University as he was convinced that this university would be exactly the right choice for me. I followed his recommendation, and he was right.

Before, I hadn’t thought about attending a private university at all, but owing to the advice of my supervisor I went to the Taster Day of the Faculty of Management and Economics. Everybody was very welcoming, and I had very open discussions with students. It was just the opposite of what my brother had told me about public universities and of what I had been thinking about private universities so far. Spontaneously, I applied for the Business Economics (today: Management) degree programme and decided to seize the opportunity of studying at Witten/Herdecke University after a successful interview.

Courage to set up a business

The university’s academic environment fostered my personal development. I worked with and in several student start-ups, took part in the foundation of the social non-profit association called 'ROCK YOUR LIFE! WITTEN', participated in initiating the Entrepreneurship Centre and was involved in student marketing initiatives.

It was the entrepreneurial spirit of Witten that made me found ONVARD GmbH, a limited liability IT company, together with an IT security student from Bochum even before graduating. At ONVARD GmbH I am in charge of the design team and take care of the conceptual design, marketing and financing, i.e. of all I have learned at Witten/Herdecke University. Today, we share our office in Bochum with two other UW/H founders. This shows how strong the alumni network is in this context.

Writing the Bachelor thesis is all I still need to do to complete my studies. Afterwards, I will focus on further developing my company. Without the inspiring environment of Witten/Herdecke University I would not have been able to achieve so much.