December 29th 2021

Master MCiT alumnus founds tech start-up

The two friends Benedikt Schuhwerk and Stephan Birkmaier start their own business with Faltbar

The two friends Benedikt Schuhwerk and Stephan Birkmaier start their own business with Faltbar, a portable multi-monitor system for mobile working.
MCiT Alumnus Benedikt Schuhwerk and his friend Stephan Birkmaier found the tech start-up Faltbar. Foto Credit: MCiT Department

We got the two young entrepreneurs in front of the microphone. In the interview, Benedikt and Stephan tell us about their business idea, give exciting insights into how they founded their company and share their tireless entrepreneurial spirit with us:

When and how did your business idea come about?

The idea was born in the first lockdown, in March 2020. We see potential to solve a problem that is current: it simply doesn't make sense to lug monitors home and back to the office. At home, people often don't have the space to permanently set up a workstation with two monitors. Numerous studies show that people work inefficiently with a laptop at the kitchen table. With Faltbar, a portable multi-monitor system for mobile working, we provide an adequate solution.

How did the tech start-up Faltbar come about?

It was clear to us that the pandemic would not be over in half a year. In July 2020, we filed the patent application, and in November we filed the patent. At the turn of the year 2020/21, we made cold calls and asked around 100 companies for their opinion of our prototype. The positive feedback spurred us on to continue. In terms of production, it was clear to us from the beginning that we wanted to have it done regional and not somewhere in Eastern Europe or the Far East. Faltbar went into production in spring 2021. In July, the first communication measures took place on LinkedIn: Our product video achieved 15,000 views within a very short time. The hashtags #homeoffice #remote were visibly well chosen. At that point it was clear to us that we wanted to go all out. That's why we quit our jobs and have been fully committed to Faltbar ever since.

Benedikt, how do you benefit from your MCiT Master's degree in your self-employment?

In our MCiT studies we learned that you never know everything, but we have the craft to acquire things accordingly and solve problems in a short time. This problem-solving thinking, this pragmatic approach, helps us a lot.

What were your motives for doing the MCiT Master’s program?

Back in 2014, I had won the CAST Award for a bicycle accessory. I knew that if I wanted to take my start-up idea forward, it would have to be at the Entrepreneurship School. My goal was to set up my own company and learn something at the same time. Of course, I didn't realise at the time that the own company would only be founded years later.

Where did your path lead after your graduation?

During my Management, Communication & IT Master's degree, I gained extensive small business experience. After graduation, I wanted to work for a huge company. That's how I found my professional footing at HILTI in the area of software support. There I worked on process improvements, was project manager in customer service and led my own team.

How do you two complement each other?

Stephan and I have been friends for 10 years. We both studied in Innsbruck and love working in a team. We complement each other in that we like to discuss things and don't always agree. We come from two completely different backgrounds: I bring the business aspect. As a trained anaesthetist and emergency doctor, Stephan knows how to break things down to the essentials and assess them rationally. In the beginning, we did everything as a team. We wanted to challenge each other on all groundbreaking decisions in order to reach a consensus in the end. In the meantime, clear areas of responsibility have emerged: Stephan is responsible for all technical product matters, while I take care of sales, marketing and communication agendas.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own business?

Benedikt: "Get someone you can discuss things with. If two people are constantly of the same opinion, that doesn't get you anywhere. Establish a culture of discussion and try to get feedback quickly and cheaply."

Stephan: " Don't let failures get you down. Learn from it, get up and move on."

What are your current challenges?

Hybrid working is the future! We are solving a problem there now with Faltbar. The pressure to become big with our idea now is one challenge. Another is in communicating the benefits. The added value of our product doesn't come across so well in written words. We have to use emotions to clearly convey the benefits to the end user and make it clear to him that our product is not just a screen stand, but that Faltbar is the ideal solution for an entire home office problem.

Benedikt and Stephan, we wish you all the best and hope to see you soon on TV in 2 Minutes 2 Million! Thank you for your time. Thank you for the interview.

Prof. Dr. Peter J. Mirski | Head of Department & Studies Bachelor's program Management, Communication & IT
Prof. Dr. Peter J. Mirski Head of Department & Studies