“The travel industry has Airbnb, the car industry has Uber but, in the science industry, sharing is a much bigger problem,” says Johannes Solzbach, co-founder of Clustermarket, an online marketplace for the sharing of scientific equipment.
After a Master of Finance from Hult International Business School, Johannes (pictured below, right) teamed up with fellow Hult students and budding entrepreneurs, Niklas Friedberg and Tobias Wingbermuehle, to develop his own company. The three Clusterteers are filling a gap in the sharing economy market that’s been sorely missed.
“We believe lack of resources really limits innovation to a few individuals,” explains Johannes. “Our idea was to democratize the market, to give everyone a chance at innovation by offering them easier and affordable access to resources.”
Often, the problem is entrepreneurs creating unfinished product prototypes and then hitting a brick wall—due to financial constraints and issues with space and resources. What investor is going to put money into an idea that has already plateaued?
Clustermarket aims to resolve that problem—members can rent equipment, lab space, and researchers to assist them in their ventures.
By matching scientists, engineers, and other technological pioneers in need of lab equipment to universities, research labs, and businesses, Clustermarket is realizing the true potential of the sharing economy—by transforming a huge network of professionals into a tightly knit digital community fewer people are left behind.
Hult International Business School boasts a global alumni network of over 19,000 people, and has campuses in six of world’s most influential markets, including the US, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. Johannes, Niklas, and Tobias built their business around that.
Giovanni Rizzo, a Hult alum and angel investor was one of the first people who invested in the company—he now sits on the company board.
“Our entire founding team is from Hult,” beams Johannes, “which really highlights the importance of the school’s network—because of that we were introduced to potential investors and customers.”
Clustermarket was a finalist in the MassChallenge UK Accelerator program in 2016—Hult Business School also had a team of finalists competing the year before. The program highlights the best of the UK startup scene year-on-year.
And in Johannes’ native Germany, the company went through the Merck Accelerator, a program that focuses on innovation potential in the healthcare and life science industries.
After that, Johannes says, an angel round raised enough investment for Clustermarket to launch within the UK’s Golden Triangle (London, Cambridge, Oxford) earlier this year—there are also pilot schemes being set up in various countries abroad—Johannes says interest is “overwhelming.”
He credits a lot of Clustermarket’s development to professor of the disruptive business models module at Hult International in London, Michael Grandinetti, Hult's Global Discipline Lead: Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
By challenging them to come up with their own solutions to real-life case studies, and being graded on their ability to solve real-world issues, says Johannes, they were readied for the challenges they faced when launching their own company.
“You learn so much more when setting up your own business,” he explains, “no matter what business that is, Hult prepares you to be innovative.”