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Company foundation: "Grow up first!"

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In order to do what I wanted, I had to go to court at 16. I wanted to start my own business, and that's difficult in Germany when you're under 18. The parents actually have to sign everything. That was out of the question for me. I wanted to be responsible for myself if I make mistakes. So I applied to the court for my early business ability and then registered a trade in marketing and tech. I don't think many of the forms I needed were ever seen by the employees at the city of Hildesheim.

The impetus for starting my own business came during a year abroad in India. I flew there with the idea that I would like to provide development aid. There I realized that I still need a lot of development aid from my Indian school. Because the students there learn to program from fourth grade onwards, that fascinated me. I have found IT exciting since fifth grade. At my humanistic high school there was not even the subject of computer science.

"My parents weren't so enthusiastic at first that I started my own business and would therefore neglect school."

Jakob Klement, 19 years old

The topics at school didn't interest me for the most part. I did the big Latinum, but I wrote a six in ancient Greek. For this I started programming apps early. For example, one that prioritizes homework and tells me what to do. That was not valued at school. It was said: focus on what we're doing here. At some point I thought: It can't be that I should only learn Latin vocabulary.

At first my parents were not so enthusiastic that I started my own business and would therefore neglect school. But they knew they couldn't appeal.

Getting my first marketing orders was difficult. For this I had to clean handles: I wrote emails to everyone I knew from my part-time job as a cameraman at a marketing company. I wanted to shoot, program, and develop interactive advertising videos. I was often not taken seriously in meetings. I was the nerd, the spinner. It was said: grow up first! I had a childish voice, was small, talked flippantly and was therefore quickly labeled as naive. I was frustrated that it wasn't about my work, but what I was: a 16-year-old boy. I had to give up some projects because of it, like an app in which you archive and share memories. I tried to fund the app through foundations. But they didn't trust me enough because I was so young. I can no longer hear the phrase "Good luck on your way". It always resonates: I go the way, but not with you. Often, my counterpart also assumed that what I do is a kind of internship – and that you don't have to pay money for the work of young people. That's why I worked for free or for a very low fee.

I tried to look more adult by expressing myself more selectively and wearing shirts instead of sweaters. It was nonsense: I wanted to do marketing for young people and get companies to rethink.

"We are confident because we know that we can choose freely."

It took me a while to reflect on myself. In the meantime, I don't care how I speak to business partners again: If I talk flippantly, people have to deal with it. The working world needs us young. The shortage of skilled workers is a problem for the world of work, for our generation it is a luxury. We are confident because we know that we can choose freely. Nevertheless, there was a lot of pressure in front of my high school diploma: many were overwhelmed by the possibilities and did not know what to choose.

In 2018 I finally found a partner that I always wanted. I met the founder of Orangery – a start-up that advises other companies and offers coworking jobs. He did not convey to me: I come from above and you from below. Instead, he made me an innovation manager at the Orangery. Since the beginning of 2019, I have also joined the management as Chief Technology Officer and as a partner.

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