Matti Fischer (MSc Entrepreneurship, 2019) is the co-founder of Careloop, an online recruiting platform designed for nurses from international backgrounds, to help them adapt to the German healthcare system. The platform allows German companies to apply to candidates who have been vetted by Careloop. In 2020, Matti won the Defne and Muhtar Kent Educational Foundation, Inc. Prize in Entrepreneurship for his master’s thesis. We spoke to Matti about his achievements, his belief in supporting fellow entrepreneurs and how his time at the Business School inspired him to set up Careloop.
Can you tell me about your time at the Business School?
After my first professional experiences at Deloitte and PWC in Frankfurt and my further training as a full stack web developer at LeWagon in Berlin, I decided to complete an MSc in Entrepreneurship at the Business School (formerly known as Cass Business School). I was fascinated by the world of start-ups and impressed by the mindset needed to successfully found a company, or create a product, with very limited or no existing resources. The Business School has the best reputation in Europe for entrepreneurship education, so completing my MSc there was an obvious choice.
My time at the Business School was great from day one, particularly the collaboration of many talented people from across the world with diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Our professors not only helped us academically, but also worked on developing our mindsets to make things happen. I would also like to emphasise the great team spirit and support that prevailed here among the fellow students, which made studying a joy. Professor Costas Andriopoulos created an atmosphere in the MSc Entrepreneurship programme that I now see in the start-up ecosystem daily: mutual support without demanding anything in return. Alongside the Business School, I was also part of the incubation programme at City Launch Lab with my start-up, then called “Pflegista” now Careloop. At the Launch Lab, I was able to put the content from lessons into practice while also learning from other founders who were much further along than I was at the time. It was a vibrant place for founders to realise their ideas: The Launch Lab inspired and motivated me to successfully push forward my own ideas.
What happened after you graduated?
After graduating in September 2019, I moved back to Berlin with the firm decision to put Careloop into practice together with my co-founder Alexander Lundberg. Why Berlin? For one thing, our idea focuses on the German market. Secondly, in Berlin we had the opportunity to be funded by the Berlin Startup Scholarship, which is financed by the City of Berlin and the European Social Fund (EU). This guaranteed us as founders a monthly income with nothing in return, meaning we could concentrate fully on the progress of our business. The start-up scene and low living costs in Berlin also appealed to us. We used this time to further test and develop our idea to achieve market readiness. After a ramp-up phase, we launched our online platform in May 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and generated over €50,000 in sales in the first 8 months.
How did Careloop come about?
My co-founder Alex and I had both repeatedly dealt with a shortage of skilled nursing staff during our careers in the context of commercial due diligence and M&A deals within the healthcare sector. We had discussed the issues around this problem and also talked about how other industries, e.g. developers, solve it and what the healthcare sector could do differently. Then my grandfather needed care and I experienced first-hand how difficult it really is to find carers. Alex had also had the same experience in his family in the same year – it was clear to us: something had to change!
We started with the idea to increase transparency in the market and to set up a central booking platform for care services, following the example of Airbnb. We quickly realised that it was a service for which neither side of the platform was willing to pay a fee, so we researched further into existing platforms to figure out how to set up a similar model in the care market. Many adjustments later, we launched our platform in May 2020. As a next step we are developed and currently launching an online academy for nurses, which helps them adapt to the German health system.
What has been the most rewarding experience?
I think there were a few moments here that are worth mentioning. Including the first sales and first use cases; the expansion of the team with talented employees who all had their contribution to the development of Careloop; winning startup competitions and the closing of our first financing round. For me personally, however, winning the Defne and Muhtar Kent Educational Foundation 2020, Inc. Prize in Entrepreneurship for my Master’s thesis was the greatest recognition for the journey so far. I gained many of my skills and knowledge at the Business School, which is where our journey began! I am very proud to be the current winner and to receive the award personally from Muhtar Kent was a special highlight.
What has been the biggest challenge with regards to your business?
I think there are ups and downs in every week. You just have to accept these setbacks and find new solutions and don’t let them get you down. The biggest challenge were the pivots and adjustments we made to our business model, as well as the change of our target audiences. These decisions should not only be made among the founders but should be communicated to the whole team and to the outside world. This can potentially lead to resentment within the team, as a lot of passion and time has gone into the work – the results of which are not always followed up. Those who are affected must be picked up and motivated to continue working with the same meticulousness.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Firstly, you should use the network you have in all situations and don’t be shy to ask for support, help and advice – maintaining your network is very important. Secondly, discuss your idea with decision-makers from the industry and get their input. Thirdly, reach out to other founders – learn from them, exchange ideas and ask for tips. If you can, try to join an incubator programme to become part of a start-up ecosystem. This way you can avoid mistakes that others have made – Alex and I got our most important tips from other founders.
Lastly, get to know the start-up industry and to see the passion and enthusiasm with which people help each other. Become part of it and see it as a give and take: what you receive in support, give back without asking for anything in return.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my companions, the Academic Staff and fellow students from the Business School, the Staff and the Fellow Founders at the City Launch Lab, for the support I received from you. Without you, none of this would have been possible and I am very grateful and look back fondly on my time in London.