2019-08-25
Journey story - Berlin 2019, Michael Dittel

Contact: Michael Dittel, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Journey was a lifelong experience for LeafTech's former participant and founder, Michael Dittel. He describes his memorable summer of 2014 as an awesome journey with tons of fun, comprised of great people and involving hard and dedicated work. The founding team of LeafTech—a software development company in smart building sector, met at the Journey where they developed the original business idea.


The team continued to develop their idea in Berlin after completing the Journey, tells Michael Dittel;” We simply didn’t stop working on our topic and vision. First in our spare time, later full time and now with a registered company running successfully.” There is no doubt, what the Journey meant for the existence of the startup; “If it wasn’t for the Journey, there simply wouldn’t be any LeafTech”. LeafTech’s core idea was significantly influenced by the hands-on experience and useful insights and input received from the coaches and experts. By learning that developing ideas and testing them was a fun experience, Michael sought to give it a try. The Journey provided the perfect introduction to starting a business, as he and the team gained immense knowledge of what to consider when establishing a startup.

The Journey was only the start for the team consisting of Michael Dittel, Anjan Kumar, Sasan Zahirnia and Victor Pettelkau, with the first three being the founding members. Besides being on the Journey, the founding team behind LeafTech also completed the EIT Climate-KIC Master Label programme from 2014-2016, participated in the German Greenhouse Pre-Incubation programme in 2016 and are now in the Accelerator Programme in Berlin. Participating in the Climate-KIC community added value to Michael and LeafTech on many different levels: “There has been a lot of valuable events, exchanges, opportunities and interesting people we [interacted with] during our time in the community,” Michael says.

“Climate-KIC is a strong community of people who believe in clean tech and have a clear vision of easing the ever-growing pressure on our environment. It has always been reassuring meeting those people sharing a joint goal.” – Michael Dittel, founder of LeafTech

The economic support and guidance also meant a great deal in the process of creating the startup, Michael explains: “The funding and coaching helped us in many ways to become the startup we are today.”

LeafTech was founded in Berlin and has maintained the location as its base ever since. As Michael explains, Berlin’s infrastructure and supporting opportunities are favorable and great to the startup community. This year, one of the five August Journeys, GrachieSpree, is starting off in Berlin. And there is a lot to look forward to for the participants going to this location. In Berlin, a new startup is being founded every 20 minutes, making Berlin one of the world’s startup capitals. Michael’s best advice for this year’s participants is to remember to take a rest, “There are more weeks and more locations to come” he ends.

Questions and answers

  1. How was your Climate-KIC Journey experience?
  2. Michael: It was an awesome journey with great people including a lot of hard and dedicated work as well as tons of fun.
  3. How would you describe the impact the Journey has had on your startup and specific abilities/skills? Michael: Our team was actually founded during the journey. We simply did not stop working on our topic. First in spare time, later full time and now with a registered company. So, there would be no Leaftech if it was not for the Journey. Regarding the skill set you surely get a great overview what to consider when starting a business. With the hands-on experience and inputs from coaches and experts you can take away a lot. Most importantly you learn that developing ideas and testing them can be a lot of fun.
  4. Why did you choose Berlin as a location for developing your startup? And what are the advantages of being a startup in Berlin? Michael: It simply came to be that we had 3 TU Berlin students in our team so we decided to stick to the location. And the infrastructure as well as supporting opportunities are simply great in Berlin. Nevertheless, if there are opportunities there is always competition as well.
  5. What has it meant to you being part of the Climate-KIC community the last five years? Michael: There have been a lot of valuable events, exchanges, opportunities and first and foremost interesting people we came across during this time. Climate KIC created a community of people who believe in clean tech and have a clear vision of easing the ever-growing pressure on our environment. It has always been reassuring meeting those people sharing a joint goal. Moreover the funding and coaching helped us in many ways to become the startup we are today.
  6. Do you have any advice for new Journey participants specifically coming to Berlin? Michael: Hard to phrase something reasonable and responsible here…If you need a night off and to take a rest… take a rest ;) There are more weeks and more locations to come