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Founder fails with his first startup – he’s doing better now

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Founder fails with his first startup – he’s doing better now

Janik Nolden is the founder of solar startup Solago. Solago GmbH

The sun is currently shining for Janik Nolden – at least in a figurative sense. His solar startup Solago generated net sales of twelve million euros in 2023. This year, he tells us, sales are expected to more than double to 30 million euros. Sales of solar systems and balcony power plants are booming. But Nolden has also experienced other times as an entrepreneur. He failed with his startup Heydrate, which he founded during his studies: “We really bled. “I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent.”

He launched his first company together with Julian Dienst in 2019. Through Heydrate they sold drink flavors as powder and syrup. Things quickly went uphill for the young founders. They were able to achieve seven-figure sales, he tells us. “It was cool, but in the end it wasn’t profitable,†Nolden remembers. “Our product was not accepted by the market in a way that would allow us to operate sustainably.”

He made a lot of mistakes back then. His biggest learning: “I would always build a business that runs profitably right from the start and is not just dependent on investors and permanent new rounds of financing.” Heydrate received a total of half a million euros from financing. After almost four years it was over. It was a difficult time for him. He gave up his master’s degree to work at the startup. He and his co-founder, Dienst, have put everything on one card: Solago.

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