Back in 2001, Joachim Kuhn and Roland Caps founded the company as a spin-off from the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE), which is affiliated with the University of Würzburg. Currently, va-Q-tec is the global market and technology leader for vacuum insulation panels, specializing in perfect insulation solutions used in refrigerators, pipes and hot water tanks. To carry out controlled, temperature-sensitive logistics chains, the company also operates a fleet of several tens of thousands of rental containers and boxes in a global partner network, with which temperature chains can be ensured in areas such as healthcare logistics. The high-tech thermal containers and boxes are manufactured in Germany and are currently an essential part of the international logistics of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 diagnostic kits, medications and vaccines.
Mr Kuhn, can you tell us what the biggest challenges were at the beginning of your career when you founded va-Q-tec with Roland Caps in 2001?
The biggest challenges we faced were establishing the team, market entry and financing. In the beginning we approached the foundation without much concern, still we had a lot of drive because we saw a need for the solution we had come up with. It was a good thing that we didn't know about all the technical and business challenges at that time, because knowing that we might not have approached the spin-off. Entrepreneurs must be more resolute than the problems they encounter.
When you founded the company, there was no business incubator in Würzburg yet. How would you evaluate the development of the support network for founders in Bavaria in recent years?
From our perspective, Bavaria already has a very solid and powerful support network for founders. That said, we believe there is still quite a lack of sufficient financing for the early stages (seed capital) as well as support for marketing and business development. The Business Plan Competition in Northern Bavaria brought us into the world of financing at that time, where we were able to gain a lot of experience. We have always turned to our surrounding area for advice and support, including our investors. They see hundreds of companies, and amassed a great deal of knowledge.