Bonn Young Bonn residents Joshua Bach and Julius Schenk have already created over 40 websites. Among their customers are bicycle stores, bars or restaurants.
When Julius Schenk and Joshua Bach talk about their company, it sounds less like work and more like pleasure. "Others do ballet or play soccer in their free time. We're raising our own business instead," says Joshua Bach. Julius Schenk was only 15 years old when he founded Elionter. The web agency creates websites for small and medium-sized companies and places ads for them on Google, Facebook and Instagram.
The idea for the start-up came to the young founder during a walk through downtown Bonn. He noticed that the Internet presence of many restaurants, cafes and hair salons was outdated or not professional. "Often, the websites just don't look fancy, take way too long to load or aren't displayed properly on smartphones," says founder Julius Schenk.
Inspiration from "Minecraft"
Schenk has been programming software for more than six years. His enthusiasm for IT was awakened by the video game "Minecraft." At the moment, the 17-year-old attends the Friedrich Ebert High School in Bonn. His colleague Joshua Bach graduated from high school there last year. The two got to know each other at a student competition held by a management consultancy. Together, they won the jury prize and the community prize for the best video in 2018.
Today, they are business partners and use every free minute to work on their joint project. Joshua Bach and Julius Schenk have already created over 40 websites. Their customers include bicycle stores, bars and restaurants. In the early days, the two founders mainly recruited new customers in addition to programming. No easy task, recalls Joshua Bach: "Calling is the most annoying part of the job," he explains, "you quickly get frustrated when people react in an unfriendly way." The young people have made over a thousand phone calls, and rejections were often part of the process. "You have to get used to that, even if it's an unpleasant feeling," says Bach.
That kind of new customer acquisition is now history. Today, the startup recruits new customers via Google Ads - playing out their ads in the search engine. "This allows us to grow in a much more predictable way, and we have less staff overheads," Schenk says.
In contrast to what is usual in the industry, the young people rely on a monthly payment and thus, according to their own information, come up with a four-digit monthly turnover. This is especially appealing to smaller companies and businesses, he said. "This way, customers don't have to pay a four-digit amount all at once, but smaller sums over a longer term," Schenk says, explaining the model.
In the first few months, the young founders focused on the city of Bonn. The idea was to help Bonn-based companies improve their digital presence and present a modern image to the outside world. In the meantime, however, the start-up has grown considerably and serves customers throughout Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland. The advantage: the Bonners can work from anywhere.
New start-ups planned
Julius Schenk and Joshua Bach don't want to stick with Elionter forever, they are sure of that. Both can imagine founding other start-ups in the future and trying something new again: "The digital industry is also changing so quickly. Who knows if there will even be websites in twenty years," Bach reflects and smiles.
Original text: Charleen Florijn
Translation: Mareike Graepel