What is the best age to start a business? An MIT study once put it at the early 40s, but the founders of MyTaag prove that you can also be successful much earlier. They started as high school students, got a deal on "Die Höhle der Löwen" and have already won many well-known customers for their digital business card, most recently all BMW branches in Germany.
Some know very early on that they want to be entrepreneurs one day and found their own startup. One of them is Davis Zöllner. Even when he was still in high school, he was looking for like-minded people who wanted to embark on a startup adventure like he did. He took part in various business events and met Berkay Canikran at one of them. He presented a digital product there that immediately excited Davis.
The basic idea is as simple as it is compelling. Even though the paper business card is on the decline overall, enormous quantities of them are still being printed. There is talk of well over 100 billion of them being printed worldwide every year. Yet they have a number of disadvantages. Firstly, there is the high consumption of paper, which is increasingly being viewed critically in times when sustainability is playing an ever more important role. The practical use of a business card is also limited. When you need it, you can't often find it, and it's not at hand when you're on the go anyway. In addition, it quickly becomes outdated: sometimes the company name changes, sometimes the address, sometimes the job title, and staff fluctuation in companies also makes frequent reprints necessary.
There is a digital alternative for many things these days, so why not for the business card as well? Berkay has developed one. Therefor he uses NFC technology. NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is a process that has long since found its way into our everyday lives. The best example is contactless payment at the supermarket checkout, where a card is only briefly held up to a reader. Cell phones are now also NCF-capable, with the first models coming onto the market as early as 2008. RFID transponders (RFID is the abbreviation for Radio Frequency Identification) are used here, a kind of combination of microchip and mini transmitter that works at short range. For our card example, passive transponders are used that do not require their own energy but obtain it from the reader. They are also called tags.
The term is echoed in MyTaag, the name Davis and Berkay gave their startup. They met in January 2020, and just over three months later, on April 18, they entered the market. Here, two people had obviously found each other who wanted to really get things going. There was just one catch: Davis was not of age at the time. According to the German Civil Code, anyone under the age of 18 is generally considered to have limited legal capacity. But exceptions are possible. This first requires the authorisation of the legal representative, usually the parents. In the second step, a family court then decides whether the minor can be granted permission to start a business. In Davis' case, it took a total of six months for him to finally convince the court that he had the required knowledge and skills. Waiting until his 18th birthday would not have been an option for him: "When I do something, I do it 100%," is his motto.
The story of startup students attracted quite a bit of interest in the media. The editors of the startup show "Die Höhle der Löwen" also took notice of MyTaag. In the spring of 2021, Davis and Berkay made their way from Hamburg to Cologne, where the show is recorded. They set off at 4 a.m. On the way, they reconsidered their desired offer and set it so low at 50,000 euros for 30% that it became clear: Here are two founders who really want a deal.
And so it came to pass. At the same time, they set a record: At the age of 17 and 18, they were the youngest founders ever to be successful on the show. They were able to win Carsten Maschmeyer as an investor, who was just as convinced of the duo as he was of the product. The original version of MyTaag is a sticker with the transponder that transmits all the important contact information. In the meantime, there is also a physical business card with transponder and the possibility of data transfer via app and QR code. The decisive advantage in any case is that no new card has to be produced when the data changes, but the update takes place digitally.
The appearance in the show was then broadcast in October 2021 and brought the desired advertising success. The fact that it became more than a mere flash in the pan is also due to the good collaboration with Maschmeyer and his investment firm seed + speed, which specialises in B2B software startups in their early stages. The team is always available to answer questions, but the boss also helps with strategic issues with his know-how and a large network. Talks with Maschmeyer, however, usually have to be scheduled in advance. That's no problem for Davis, who leaves nothing to chance and always keeps a tight schedule. He takes care of the business side of things, while Berkay continues to develop the product.
Over time, MyTaag's software has become more and more convenient and comprehensive. Not only can the data be managed centrally, which is attractive for companies, but it is also increasingly being used for sales purposes. The offering has now won over around 50,000 customers in over 70 countries, including many well-known names. Pilot projects have been successfully completed with the logistics company DB Schenker and the real estate company Engel & Völkers, and the media group RTL, which owns the broadcaster VOX and thus the show "Die Höhle der Löwen," has already used the services of MyTaag.
The startup is particularly proud of a customer from the automotive industry. In April 2022, BMW's Munich branch, the BMW Group's largest worldwide, started a test with MyTaag's digital business card. It was so successful that all other BMW branches in Germany followed suit in June 2023. The principle propagated by Carsten Maschmeyer, "faster, higher, further", seems to be proving true here. The investor is correspondingly pleased with the deal: "Congratulations to MyTaag! With the BMW branches as customers, tradition meets innovation, and the joy of driving meets the joy of networking. I am very happy about the development since the deal in the "Höhle der Löwen". With the digital business cards, things continue to go steeply upwards!"
So on the road to making paper business cards obsolete, MyTaag has taken a big step. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go, which is why the startup is focusing entirely on further expanding its digital business card business in German-speaking countries. Original plans to use NFC technology in other areas have long since been shelved. Even so, there is plenty to do for the now eleven-strong team. Perhaps it will grow significantly again in the near future if MyTaag succeeds in closing its first major financing round. There is no best age for this either, only the best arguments.