Ostseezeitung: Rostock founder on the verge of a big leap

Start-up Duschkraft begins with series production / Young Internet companies also change the mattress trade.

A report by Gerald Kleine Wördemann and Marc Niedzolka

Rostock: Start-up companies now also want to conquer bathrooms and bedrooms. The mattress trade is changing thanks to new online providers. And in Rostock, the new company Duschkraft brings more comfort to the bathroom:

The three founders Stefan Goletzke (30), David Bredt (29) and Arvid Reinwaldt (30) have developed a shower system that dehumidifies the air in the bathroom while the water is still running. Moulding joints and fogged mirrors should no longer exist.

Series production begins in October, by then the tinkerers want to assemble 30 of their wall-mounted appliances the size of an ironing board in a pilot series - in order to gain experience. The components come from all over Germany and are assembled in Rostock. "We already have 400 pre-orders," says Managing Director Stefan Goletzke. At first the entrepreneurs, who began as students of the University of Rostock, want to market their product themselves, later it is to be bought in stores.

At present, the approval as a worldwide patent is in progress. The company still consists of four full-time and two part-time employees, including the three founders. When there is more to do, students from the university help out, with whom there are still close contacts.

Without state support, the founders of Duschkraft might never have made it this far: their production site in the Rostock shipyard triangle was largely financed by the state's Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft, which invested 360000 euros in the company. Even as students, they benefit from support of more than 200,000 euros from start-up programmes, some of which are still running. In a further round of financing, Duschkraft seeks further investors for the expansion of the company.

Thanks to the young entrepreneurs from Rostock, things could soon look different in many bathrooms. In the bedroom other start-ups are already a step further: The mattress purchase in the Internet grows for years. Even successful Hollywood actors are now investing millions in the business. Start-ups like Emma or Casper, who sell their products mainly online, have succeeded in making the purchase of mattresses "sexy", says Ulrich Leifeld from the Association of the Mattress Industry.

Within a few years, the association estimates that the start-ups were able to secure a market share of ten percent in Germany. On the other hand, department stores are losing importance for mattress sales.

The Frankfurt-based start-up Emma, founded at the end of 2015, has sold more than 120000 mattresses throughout Europe since the company was founded. Germany is the largest market. Since September 2017 the mattresses can also be bought at the discounter Matratzen Concord.

The US start-up Casper, which is also active in Germany, does not provide any figures. They say one is "satisfied" with the development. The New York company's sponsors include actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire as well as well-known US musicians such as Adam Levine and 50 Cent.