You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

The emotional US debate about the 2010 health care reform is not well understood in Europe. The reason is that mandatory and government controlled health care is pretty common in the ‘old continent’. E.g. in Germany there has been a system of public and private health insurances for decades now. Insurance in either of these systems is mandatory for everybody. However, both systems work very differently in terms of costs and coverage. Switching between them is also difficult and sometimes not possible, once you made your decision. That’s why comparing health care plans is both, complicated and important.

A new start-up project in Germany now helps people to compare the total costs of a PKV (private health insurance) and the gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (the public health care system). It does so by predicting the long term costs of every plan, assuming a certain set of medical treatments the user will need throughout his or her life. The prediction is also based on individual data the user provides (e.g. age, income, number of children) and scientific research about future cost developments in the health care sector.

The website has just launched. It’s free (but in German) and can be found at:

Maybe the need for elaborated comparison of health insurances will also increase in the US after the recent reform and a new niche market will emerge.

International Wedding registry from honeywish now available in English

honeywish’s honeymoon registry, which has had a phenomenally successful start in the German-speaking countries this wedding season, is now fully available in an English language version, too.

Like most honeymoon registries, honeywish is a cash gift registry. Wedding couples from the US, the UK, Australia and any English speakers in the world can use this wedding registry to organize their wedding gift wishes and to collect the funds for gifts in their own currency.

Apart from being a truly international international wedding registry, what makes honeywish unique is its pricing model. Instead of charging high transaction fees on every single gift, honeywish couples pay a low one time fee (in the US 55US$) and can collect their gifts without further charges if they decide to direct guests to wire transfer gift payments to the couples own bank account. For added convenience bridal couples can also enable guests payments via credit card using a savy PayPal integration in the honeywish wedding registry. This solution is very attractive to couples not only because funds go directly to them (and are not held by the registry, which is the case with most other cash gift registries). Additionally, receiving credit card payments via PayPal is not free for the couple, but transaction fees are only between 2% and 3% instead of 7%-10% with most cash wedding registries.

Yet another start-up project from my undergrad in Munich is Hochzeit-Helfer (German for “Wedding-Helper”). The new online wedding portal aims to bring a new generation of wedding websites to Germany, making organizing your weeding online a breeze for German-speaking bridal couples.

While online wedding portals in Germany used to be rather information-oriented, full of text and commercially dependent on Google Adsense advertising, Hochzeit-Helfer introduces style and fun to online wedding planning. The magazine-style website features attractive design and lots of high quality pictures.  This gives advertisers a new quality of advertising space in a commercially most interesting field in Germany – weddings and female customers.

Hochzeit-Helfer is counting on its “fresh and stylish” USP to attract users and to bring in business – the company plans to generate the larger part of its revenues from advertising.

More on Hochzeit-Helfer can be found in the teams weblog Hochzeitsblog

[This is a German translation of the previous post about a German online store for honey.]

Nachdem ich positives Feedback für meinen Blog-Eintrag über Honeywish (Hochzeitstisch) bekommen habe, hier nun mein neuster Artikel über ein interessantes und etwas außergewöhnliches Startup…

Mögen Sie Honig? Wenn ja, werden Sie auch dieses Start-up lieben. ist in München zuhause und zielt mit Honig von regionalen Imkern auf den wachsenden Markt für lokale Produkte ab. wurde von Heike und Markus Helfenstein sowie Jan Bromberger Anfang 2010 gegründet. Das Unternehmen konzentriert sich auf die Zielgruppe der Imker und bietet Honig aus verschiedenen Regionen Deutschlands zum Kauf. Das stärkt die Direktvermarktung von Honig durch Imker. Zudem gibt es einen Online-Shop für Honig.

Vom Start weg Anfang 2010 bietet die größte Auswahl an Honig aus Deutschland im Internet.

Die Geschäftsidee entstand während eines Kanada-Aufenthalts von Zweien der drei Gründer im Sommer 2009. Frische lokale Produkte liegen in Kanada wie auch weltweit im Trend – die Vorteile für den Umweltschutz und nachhaltiges Wirtschaften liegen auf der Hand. Zudem: Die meisten Menschen bevorzugen frische lokale Produkte im Vergleich mit Supermarkt-Lebensmitteln, wenn man ihnen die Wahl lässt.

Interessant ist auch die Situation der 80.000 Imker in Deutschland als Hintergrund für dieses Projekt. Die meisten von ihnen betreiben die Imkerei als Hobby. Sie haben kein Marketing-Budget und kaum kommerzielle Ziele. Auf der anderen Seite sind die Deutschen aber führend im Honigverzehr: 1,4 kg pro Person jedes Jahr sind Weltspitze. Genug Potential also, um diesen Markt zu bedienen, zumal der Anteil an Importhonig in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten auf 80% angestiegen ist. hilft Konsumenten, ihren lokalen Lieblingshonig zu finden. Imker bekommen die Möglichkeit, sich auf die Honigproduktion zu konzentrieren – und Marketing und Vertrieb den Spezialisten von zu übergeben.

Wenn Sie also einen guten Imker aus Deutschland suchen, stöbern Sie einfach durch die Seite und finden Sie sympathische Porträts jedes einzelnen Imkers. Kaufen Sie Honig online – oder verschenken Sie zum Beispiel mal ein Glas weltberühmten Schwarzwälder Tannenhonig.

After I got some good feedback about the blog post I wrote about a honeymoon registry, now again a post about an interesting and unusual startup:

Do you like honey? If you do, you will love this Start-up. Munich-based targets on honey as part of the increasing market for local products. is a Munich-based Start-up founded by Heike and Markus Helfenstein and Jan Bromberger beginning of 2010. The company focuses on beekeepers and honey produced in Germany. It promotes the beekeepers’ direct sales and also offers an online shop for honey.

Right from its launch, offers the largest variety of pure German honey on the internet.

The idea of started growing when two of the three founders were in Canada in summer 2009. They developed the increasing importance of local products in Canada and all over the world as well as the impact on the environment this could have. People love fresh local products and they prefer them to conventional food from the big surfaces if you give them a choice.

The situation of beekeepers in Germany is fairly unique. First of all, there are more than 80,000 of them. But most of them have no or little commercial interest in beekeeping. It’s more of a hobby than a business. Keeping in mind that Germans consume more honey than anybody else in the world, there is a huge gap between supply and demand – a gap that is filled by imported honey which has a market share of 80 percent. helps consumers to find locally produced honey. The beekeepers can concentrate on producing honey instead of developing strategies for their online marketing as is taking care of that.

So if you’re looking for a beekeeper in Germany, just poke the website and you’ll find nice and personal portraits. You can also buy honey online – for example the world-famous pine honey from the black forest.

Stay informed and read the Heimathonig Blog.

Timothy Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Workweek” advocates the concept of a business muse. Because the ultimate goal is a high life style, one should try to keep as much spare time as one can fill with enjoyable activities, while generating a steady cash flow to support those activities. The idea is to build multiple companies, that can be automated or at least outsourced to a very high degree.

Keeping the Pareto principle in mind, he advices us to try and make 80 percent of the money with 20 percent of the effort, even to “fire” customers who cause too much work.

With a mashup, that displays real estate foreclosures in Germany on a google map, (Zwangsversteigerung is German for foreclosure sale) is an attempt to create such a muse by Jan Bromberger, a guy who studied in the same program as I did back in Munich. All its content is automatically taken from official court sites and used to build a search engine friendly page, while email notifications for stored search criteria is sold as a premium service. Payment is automatically processed via PayPal only.

Jan claims, that after four weeks of building the site with Ruby on Rails, he doesn’t invest more than an hour per week now for maintenance and the sporadic customer support (email only). Three more hours are spent on promotion. During the first month after the launch of the premium service, $1,700  were generated. Today it receives its traffic only from long tail search requests. This number is likely to grow as the site is establishing itself and gets more popularity…

Also quite in the tradition of the 4-Hour Workweek, Jan is a serial entrepreneur. You can find more on Jan and his projects here:

[This is a German translation of the previous post about a German honeymoon registry]

Dies ist einer der ersten Blogs in einer (hoffentlich) langen Serie, in der ich Startups von Komilitonen und Freunden vorstellen will (oder solche die ich für sehr interessant, clever oder aussichtsreich halte) – starten wir mit honeywish:

honeywish ist eine Münchner Firma, das mit ihrem Hochzeitstisch speziell für die Flitterwochen das Schenken zur Hochzeit revolutionieren will. Die Idee hinter dem Hochzeitstisch online, speziell für die Flitterwochen, ist es, Brautpaaren zu erlauben, dass sie Ihre Flitterwochen und andere wertvolle Geschenke als gemeinsame Hochzeitsgeschenke von ihrer Familie und Freunden schenken zu lassen. Dabei nimmt die honeywish-Webseite dem Brautpaar vieles an Arbeit ab, indem man einfach und schnell einen eigenen Hochzeitstisch online zusammen stellen kann. Die Hochzeitsgäste kaufen dann eines oder mehrere Elemente von der Liste dieses Online-Hochzeitstisches, und überweisen das Geld an das Brautpaar. Anstatt nur Geld gegeben zu haben, haben Sie damit z.b. ein romantische Candle-Light Dinner in den Flitterwochen dem Paar geschenkt.

Daneben kann man diesen Hochzeitstisch neben Flitterwochen auch für andere Geschenke nutzen, und unterliegt dabei keinerlei Bindung an einen bestimmten Online-shop – d.h. das Brautpaar kann sich frei aussuchen wo es die Flitterwochen oder die anderen Geschenke bucht / kauft.
Alles in allem ein charmanter Weg, sich von seinen Verwandten Geld für wichtige Ausgaben schenken zu lassen.
(Und es erledigt die leidige Frage nach ideenreichen Verpackungen für Geldgeschenke, die viele Hochzeitsgäste umhertreibt…)

Die honeywish-Homepage hat auch einen interessanten Reisebereich, auf dem spannende Ideen für romantische Hotels, die besten Flitterwochen-Hotels und Flitterwochen Angebote präsentiert werden. Besonders interessant sind dabei die Empfehlungen für Hotels, die ein Honeymoon-Special haben – viele Hotels bieten für Paare in Ihren Flitterwochen oft wertvolle kostenlose Upgrades. Diese findet man in den Buchungsmaschinen der grossen Reisesuchmaschinen oft nicht!

Definitiv ein Start-up, das man im Auge behalten sollte…

VigLink is a new company started by a classmate at HBS.

The viglink guys managed to line up some very famous investors, including Google Ventures and a founder of LinkedIn.

It enables website administrators to automatically convert existing links into affiliate links. One quick install and a website automatically participates in every relevant affiliate program.
It saves webmasters endless hours of registering for affiliate programs and setting manually the right links.

Great concept in my point of view, here some quotes from Oliver:

“Every time a click leaves a publisher’s site, value is being created, and publishers should be able to capitalize on that value,” said Roup, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “But our analysis shows that the complexity and labor involved are prohibitive more than half the time. VigLink has created a product that makes solving that problem transparent and effortless, not just for new content but for the back catalog as well.”

When starting your company out of school, consider publishing a launch notice on your schools website and ask them to send out a press release about your launch. This has worked quite well for the wedding registry venture I have worked with. Their Professor published a launch note on his website, which resulted in ZDF, a major public news station covering the company in an online article about university spin-offs as, well as fem, one of Germanies leading online Magazines for women, writing a review of their service.

Today’s post is about a cool startup of a few guys who studied at the same institute as I did in Munich: amiando.

amiando is a Munich-based Start-up company and was founded by Felix Haas, Dennis von Ferenczy, Marc Bernegger, Sebastian Bärhold and Armin Bauer. Within three years, amiando grew up to a significant company in the Internet

Now, amiando is the European market leader and a pioneer in online event registration and online ticketing.

The amiando tools enable organizers of small and mid-size events worldwide to bring their event organization to a level of professionalism formerly only achieved by large corporations and agencies. Today, tens of thousands of event organizers already use amiando’ s online event management software to handle everything from invitation management, online promotion and attendee registration to integrated billing and entry management – all easy-to-use and on-demand. With, amiando, event registration becomes easier for participants and organizers. Organizers now save time and costs when organizing events, parties or conferences with amiando.

amiando is continuously growing more than 60% per quarter and continually innovates in the long-tail ticketing industry. amiando‘ s platform serves over 100,000 events worldwide with innovative products like amiando event websites, amiando ViralTickets, amiando EasyEntry or amiando EventSense®.

Some of amiando’s customers are for example BMW, UNESCO, TECHCRUNCH and the DLD. amiando has received numerous awards, including the Red Herring Top 100, Techcrunch Europas, BITKOM Innovators Pitch, the ECO Internet award and has been selected as a Technology Pioneer 2010 by the World Economic Forum.

To stay on top of things happening at amiando go and read their event blog.