How to found your own start-up

You are an innovator and have a great plan for your own start-up to address the challenges of the future in the areas of energy, mobility or health. Here are some things you need to know.

Baden-Württemberg has a vibrant start-up culture. Many innovative companies were born in one of Baden-Württemberg’s cities and towns. The state has been nationally recognized as a start-up cluster, especially in the area of electro-mobility. In terms of patents, Baden-Württemberg ranks among the top states in Germany.

As an international student, you might think about starting your own company in Baden-Württemberg while you’re studying or after you’ve finished your education. That’s great! Baden-Württemberg encourages an entrepreneurial spirit and supports people who want to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow. Programs like “Young Innovators” or “Start-Up BW” offer great resources. The KI Garage by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung is another great initiative that supports students, researchers and start-ups in the artificial intelligence space with ideas, mentorships, networking opportunities and events.

However, if you are considering founding your own start-up, there are some rules you have to keep in mind: If you are an EU or EEA citizen, there aren’t too many hurdles. If you start your company while you’re studying, you have to make sure you work less than 20 hours a week. Otherwise, you will lose your student health insurance and have to be insured at a regular, more expensive, rate. You can start a company after you graduate but check with the employment office and the alien’s office what restrictions apply and what you need to do to register your company.

Baden-Württemberg encourages an entrepreneurial spirit and supports people who want to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow.

If you become self-employed during or after your studies as an EU citizen, be careful not to fall into the trap of fictitious self-employment (Scheinselbständigkeit). This occurs if you are self-employed but work (almost) exclusively for one client. It is illegal and punishable for both the self-employed person and the client because fictious self-employment sidesteps the social security contributions and other requirements.

If you are from a country outside the EU or EEA, things are a bit more complicated. While you are studying, there are several restrictions. Please check with the alien’s office to make sure you are not in violation of your residence and work permit. You are, for example, not allowed to freelance while you study even if you have multiple clients. That would be the case if you are a graphic designer or journalist and take on assignments from newspapers, agencies or other companies.

The portal “Wir gründen in Deutschland” is a great first point of contact for international students and graduates who want to start their own business. The website provides information and contacts as well as useful guidelines. It will point you in the right direction to start your journey as a young founder and innovator.