BiG2023 – Brazilian Indtechs on a Mannheim MISSION

Interview with Claudio Goldbach and Anna Hüttl

BiG2023 - Brazilian Indtechs in Germany - is a program created to internationalize Brazilian tech companies that provide hightech solutions to manufacturing companies.

Claudio Henrique Goldbach, a Brazilian entrepreneur, has set himself the goal of connecting the start-up ecosystems of both countries and facilitating Brazilian companies' entry into the German market with this program. In cooperation with "NEXT MANNHEIM" and in close collaboration with Anna Hüttl from the International team, they have succeeded in bringing 10 interested companies on a trip to Germany. We spoke with Claudio and Anna about the promising program.

It's a pleasure to have you here in Mannheim, no matter what brought you here. So, what was it? Why are you sitting on that couch?

Claudio: „Wow, that's a long story and it takes 48 years to reach here. I graduated in engineering and already started working with manufacturing companies at a young age. Witnessing the transformation of raw materials into products fascinated me, as they improved human life. However, I became aware of the emissions resulting from these processes, which led me to pursue a master's degree in environmental studies. Dealing with furnaces further emphasized the emissions issue. In the late 20th century, I witnessed the introduction of electronics in industrial processes, particularly thermal ones. This integration captivated me. At 13, I took my first programming course, fueling my passion for computers. I recognized the potential in combining thermal processes and industrial computing. I had the privilege of being involved in these early stages while leading the development of machine-computer connectivity. I traveled to Germany, Finland, the USA, and China, engaging in discussions on this topic. Simultaneously, I operated at both the visionary and operational levels. Eventually, our efforts in Brazil surpassed those of other countries, primarily due to our creativity and willingness to take risks. Creativity is a fundamental aspect of Brazilian culture, borne out of the need to survive and thrive in a challenging environment. Despite football tactics overshadowing creativity today, it used to be one of Brazil's renowned strengths. Returning to my story, I developed remarkable products and pondered the idea of globalizing our high-tech solutions. This desire stemmed from my previous experience in importing and exporting goods for thermal processes, which allowed me to explore different countries and cultures. While Germany remained close to my heart, I sought connections in Mannheim after hearing about some individuals there.“


 Then you took part in the Digital Incubator Program, conducted by NEXT MANNHEIM?

Claudio: „Yes, I heard about it, applied and decided to participate. It consisted of four or five meetings, which included training sessions. It was an enjoyable experience, especially because there were some guys from China and Brazil. I appreciated the diverse blend of cultures, perspectives, and time zones. It truly showcased the essence of humanity. During these discussions, I had the opportunity to meet Anna and Burak, and we engaged in ongoing conversations. Through these interactions, I came to understand that the program's purpose extended beyond its surface.“


They accepted the program immediately, recognizing its potential value
Claudio Goldbach

And then the idea was born to bring Brazilian Companies over here?

Claudio: „Right! I had the idea of attracting Industrial Tech companies from Brazil to Germany, specifically Mannheim. Anna offered to assist with the German aspect while I focused on the Brazilian side. To pursue this, I visited the Embassy of Brazil in Berlin at the end of August last year. I contacted Pedro Ivo Ferraz da Silva, the head of the Science and Technology secretary, via LinkedIn. In a brief message, I explained my background and proposed the idea of bringing companies to Germany for mutual benefit. Pedro granted me a 30-minute meeting on August 25th, but the conversation turned out to be much more engaging. I shared my hypothesis about the potential success of Brazilian companies in Germany, and the meeting extended to one hour and 40 minutes. Pedro expressed interest and gave me until September 6th to submit a proposal. If approved by the International Affairs Office in Brazil (Ithamarachi), they would offer support, although the specifics were unknown. While I was in Tenerife, I received an email from Pedro, confirming that my idea had been approved. This exciting news prompted me to create a timeframe within 15 days, during which Anna and I discussed the program's details. Our perspectives merged, resulting in a comprehensive nine-day program that included a visit to the Hannover Messe and three speed dating sessions. We believed that cultural immersion in Mannheim was crucial for building long-term business relationships and understanding each other's backgrounds and differences. Stereotypes and clichés played a role in our discussions, as we aimed to break them down and foster mutual understanding. With the support of the embassy and Mafinex, an industrial hub, I approached another organization in Brazil called FindesLab.They accepted the program immediately, recognizing its potential value. While we had the structure and infrastructure in place, funding remained a challenge.

I reached out to companies with whom I had good relationships, explaining the program's benefits for both the Brazilian and German ecosystems. These companies agreed and provided financial support, allowing us to cover expenses without personally investing much money. They became partners of the program rather than traditional sponsors. We leveraged the strong industrial tech ecosystem in Brazil by collaborating with industrial hubs to spread the word about our program launch.“

The program consisted of 4 steps: application phase, pitching and selection, online training with NEXT MANNHEIM, actual travel to Germany, including Hannover Messe and corporate speed datings in three different cities

So, how many and what kind of companies applied fort he program?

Claudio: „We received 38 applications, focusing on mature companies with an established presence in the market and multinational customers. We required these companies to have assigned CEOs who would spearhead internationalization efforts., Based on hese criteria, we carefully shortlisted the top 20 companies and provided them with a seal of approval. These 20 companies pitched their ideas in English, with 8 minutes for the presentation and up to 22 minutes for questions and answers to a renowned jury from Brazil and Germany. Following this process, we announced the top ten companies, which generated significant buzz on social media in Brazil.

The second phase concluded with the selection process, and we moved on to the training phase. Anna, Jonas Braun, and I conducted five sessions in March, focusing on doing business in Germany rather than administrative tasks like opening bank accounts or establishing companies. We emphasized the importance of securing customers before venturing into such formalities. Throughout this period, we provided support to the companies, and finally, they took off to Germany in April for the actual visit.


Anna Hüttl, NEXT MANNHEIM Team International
Anna Hüttl, NEXT MANNHEIM Team International
When I bid them farewell, there was an overwhelming sense of positivity and excitement for taking the next steps.
Anna Hüttl

Anna, you were doing 3 of the training sessions. What were the things that you thought are really really important for them to know? According to the German market and the ecosystem.

Anna: „The training was not about me telling them anything, but guiding them through their individual internationalization process using our canvas tool. They had to find their own answers to the relevant questions. We used methods to guide them because each company is different. Their entry market, customer base, and value proposition vary, depending on whether they are targeting plastic companies, metal companies, or the food industry. We made them work rather than telling them the answers. It was like a methodological walkthrough, a training. In the first session, for example, we asked them questions like: What are their goals? Why do they want to internationalize? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) they have in mind? What milestones do they want to achieve in the next 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months? What resources do they need, and do they already have these resources? And also, what are the limitations. For example: I don’t speak the language. How do I overcome this limitation? This was basically the status quo analysis and some planning for the first session. The second session was just about the market and who is the ideal customer, how can I approach them, what needs do they have. Make a list of attractive customers for, and simultaneously  understanding the competition.

In my opinion, it was also crucial to generate an understanding of Germany a little bit better. Usually foreigners  think, Germany is a small country - there is Berlin and there is Munich, and a lot of industry. It is  very important to make them understand, where the different hubs are. If you have a B2C Company you should probably go to Berlin, if you are more B2B the  south might be better. If you are focusing on automotive, you should definitely think about Stuttgart. This kind of information was something I found very important. Just to give them an understanding of what is the best location for their business model . And obviously Mannheim is a good location for industry techs.

So, on the 17th of April, you arrived in Germany. How was the program?"

Claudio: "Yes, we arrived in Germany on the 17th of April. The program was fantastic. On the first day, we had a meeting in a beautiful conference room in Frankfurt, sponsored by IHK, located in the building of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. After that, we took a bus to Hannover to explore the Hannover Messe. The participants had the opportunity to visit competitors, customers, and suppliers. On the 19th of April, as a delegation, we gathered together, and our tour guide took us to visit the Siemens booth and other important companies. We also visited the Baden-Württemberg 'The Länd' booth and met some companies from the Stuttgart region. Later, we went to Dortmund for some speed dating sessions. Finally, we stayed in Mannheim for two more days, which included the best speed dating events during our stay in Germany. The level of the participating companies was exceptional, as we invited brilliant companies from all over Europe to take part. On our last day, I asked everybody to share their personal experiences during their stay. Surprisingly, 80 percent of them became emotional and shed tears. It was a truly touching experience."

Anna, what was your experience with our Brazilian guests?

Anna: "When I bid them farewell, there was an overwhelming sense of positivity and excitement for taking the next steps. It was great to witness their energy. They were also extremely grateful for the entire experience. I truly felt that the program helped them grow as individuals. It made a significant impact on their lives. Considering the vastness of Brazil as a country, even within the group of ten participants, there were numerous diverse personalities. However, I found it impressive that all of them were open-minded, receptive to feedback, and willing to consider suggestions. I believe these are key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. I also loved the group dynamic. They were all kind to one another, and I appreciated how they openly shared their experiences and best practices."

Claudio, you are still here in Mannheim. Why?

Claudio: "I believe Mannheim is a crucial hub for Industrial Tech. It's a perfect match, and Mannheim has exceeded my expectations. That's why we are planning a second edition of the program next year."

Anna, you signed an Memorandum of Understanding. What does that mean for the programs future?

Anna: „Brazil is an interesting target country for us considering the international program. A lot of innovation and entrepreneurial activities happens there and they have the will and the ambitions to enter the German market. Especially in the Industry environment, German corporates can benefit from collaboration with Brazilian IndTechs.

Having said that, with the MoU, we want to foster the relationship between our Brazilian partner organization and collaborate on further programs, which includes the repetition of the online training and delegation travel, but also new ideas like setting up better sales structures for the Brazilian companies.

With this, we hope to integrate some of the participating companies to our local startup ecosystem.


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