Convincing PWC and BAFA-Invest with an innovation report? We did it.

BAFA-Invest Program
BAFA-Invest Program

Ink& is the digital platform for tattoo artists. Designs by tattoo artists can be purchased as stickers, clothing or in the form of art prints. This has enabled the company to enter a conservative market, where even the old brand Edding failed. Now the platform is to be further expanded with fresh investor funds.

When and how did you come up with the founding idea, Felix? How does your business model work?
When the first lockdown began as part of the corona pandemic in 2020, tattoo artists in my circle of acquaintances were no longer allowed to work because they were body-related services. So the question arose for me: How can we help these people? We came up with the idea of a print-on-demand shop. At the beginning we were able to enter into a cooperation with a printing company and generate above-average sales right from the start. We now work with over 250 artists who support us through their reach on Instagram.
How difficult was it to get private investors or angel investors?
In the first 1 ½ years, the search for suitable investors turned out to be very difficult. During the Corona pandemic it was particularly difficult to make investors aware of ink &. In addition, ink & is located in an industry that receives little support from industry associations or can be measured by numbers. Awakening the interest and attractiveness of ink & among the right investors has proven to be a major challenge.
What influence did BAFA Invest have in this context?
Through an adapted approach to investors and lots of vitamin B, we were finally able to convince our first investors. However, the prerequisite for the investment was acceptance into the BAFA Invest program, as this is extremely attractive for investors. BAFA-Invest offers investors the opportunity to receive a 20% refund of their investment and additional tax savings upon exit.
Looking back, what are you particularly proud of? What were your greatest successes?
It's not that easy to say... For us, it is a great success to build an idea in a difficult market environment and develop it further over a long period of time. The continuous work with partners and artists as well as the search and finding a suitable investor. We remained authentic and were able to develop personally and grow organically. The positive feedback from those around us gives us an additional boost and shows that we have done a lot of things right.
How did nxt milestone help or support you?
External support and advice should by no means be underestimated. Our application for the BAFA Invest program was initially rejected and we were required to submit an innovation report, which was reviewed by PWC. Since we are very busy with time and lacked the experience for the report, we turned to nxt milestone. The collaboration gave us new perspectives on our own business model, which we immediately incorporated into our pitches. Thanks to the innovation report from nxt milestone, we were directly included in the BAFA Invest program in the second attempt.
What was your biggest fuckup?
The biggest fuck-up was for acquiring venture capital. Approaching business angels and convincing them of their own business idea was extremely difficult. It is a constant learning process that requires a lot of time and patience. The bureaucracy in Germany for various processes is a constant challenge. Simply issuing a VAT number can take weeks and significantly delay the start of the company. In addition, the image of starting a business is often glorified too much in the media. Little is said about how strenuous the entire process is and how much commitment it takes. Especially the comparison with other start-ups in the media, which raise millions, leads to demotivation. A good team at my side and the focus on my own projects have always grounded me and made positive company development possible.
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