At SDU, dreams can become your own business
22-year-old Johan Heidtmann is studying a BSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at SDU Business School, where he is combining his studies with the startup of his own business. What started as a good idea has become the company Jagt og Udeliv (Hunting and Outdoor Life), which has a turnover of more than DKK 100,000.
By Asta Holst Bach
- If you could do something that you are really passionate about, what would it be?
This is what Johan Heidtmann remembers a lecturer asking him and his fellow students. They were gathered in the old warehouse on the waterfront in Kolding, which is the backdrop for Startup Station.
At Startup Station, students on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme can receive guidance and inspiration from business developers from SDU. The young entrepreneurs also have time to spar with each other while they work on transforming their ideas into real companies.
From interest to business
What would you like to work with if you had the choice? The question made Johan Heidtmann think of his great interest over many years: hunting.
- I had just been out getting myself some trail cameras. They were really expensive and it was difficult to set them up, he recalls.
The idea for the online shop Jagt og Udeliv, which sells trail cameras for hunting, seriously began to take shape when Johan Heidtmann had to conduct a market survey in connection with his study programme.
Found a gap in the market
In the market survey, Johan Heidtmann charted who typically buys trail cameras.
He found that the core consumers are middle-aged men who go hunting in their spare time but don’t have great technical skills. He saw a business opportunity, a so-called gap in the market.
The core consumer of trail cameras lacks the technical skills required to assemble and mount them. And Johan Heidtmann decided to solve this challenge with his company.
In collaboration with a friend, he therefore began to further develop the idea of creating an internet site selling trail cameras. Help was at hand from the business developers at Startup Station, and in collaboration with them Johan Heidtmann drew up a business plan and intensified the marketing of his company.
Everything contributed to the young entrepreneur’s idea quickly becoming a reality.
Success to be found in the process
Mette Søgaard Nielsen is an Associate Professor at SDU and teaches on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme.
- With the study programme, we want to create a space where the students can work and experiment with their own business while at the same time giving them theory and tools along the way, she says.
However, the goal of the study programme is not necessarily for the students to have their own business when they complete their studies.
- It is not a success criterion for us that the students continue with their startups afterwards. For us, the key is the learning they achieve along the way. In reality, success is the process itself. If they choose to start their own business later in life, their early experience will be a clear advantage for them.
Precisely the process and practical experience with entrepreneurship will also give the students an advantage when looking for a job.
- We can see that companies think our students are very independent and dynamic, says Mette Søgaard Nielsen. -
During the study programme and in the process of starting their own business, they have learned that if someone is going to run it, it has to be themselves.
Finding the best solution
For Johan Heidtmann, the academic ballast and guidance he is receiving during his education has been central to the startup of the company.
- When you start a business, there are a lot of practical things that need to be sorted out. Most things you can read about online, but what is the best solution? I wouldn’t be where I am today with my business if the study programme hadn’t given me the theory and sparring I needed, he believes.
But he emphasises that it takes hard work and motivation from the individual student to succeed with a startup: -
The lecturers keep an eye on you and keep you on your toes. But it’s important to know that you take it only as far as you want to go, says Johan Heidtmann.
Room for both
Johan Heidtmann started Jagt og Udeliv in April 2020 in collaboration with his friend. And when he looks back on the process, he has no doubt that the BSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation has made it possible for him to combine his startup business with an academic education.
- The University gives me a free space, a space in which to develop my own business, because I can do it as part of my study programme.
Jagt og Udeliv has a turnover of more than DKK 100,000, and Johan Heidtmann’s milestone is motivating him to further develop his company. In the future, he hopes to expand the range with more hunting equipment.
Economics and Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Innovation
In the study programme, students have the opportunity to work with starting up their own business or joining an existing company. One day a week from the 2nd–5th semesters, lectures and teaching are replaced with guidance in entrepreneurship and time to work on their startup.