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In-house entrepreneurship

DB helps employees implement their own business ideas

When experts are asked what features are needed in order to stay successful in the tech age, their answers are always technological expertise, creativity, openness, an eagerness to experiment and the ability to think like an entrepreneur. Those features describe not only successful employees, but entire companies as well. That's why Deutsche Bahn helps employees implement their idea by providing targeted assistance. Its DB Intrapreneurs program helps them develop new data-driven business models, while the Skydeck Accelerator focuses on innovative IT solutions for DB's core business.

DB Intrapreneurs: professional support to bring bright ideas to the market

The program team prepares interested employees to launch their ideas and creates the ideal framework. Teams are provided workshops, coaching, workstations and access to the startup network as they take their ideas all the way to market launch. They attend four workshops at the beginning of the program, where they develop their ideas into concrete business models. Once the team has mastered this phase and moves on to developing a prototype, employees can concentrate on implementing their idea.

What makes this program extra special is that teams have the chance to launch their business on the market, with DB Digital Ventures as an investor, and demonstrate that they can make it as an independent company. Or, alternatively, the program gives participants the opportunity to implement their digital business model within the Group.

Technological innovation for greater customer satisfaction

Deliveries are collected in city hubs at railway stations and distributed by cargo bike in the city center.

The program encourages business ideas that pick up where DB's core business leaves off. The idea is to launch new business models and develop new customer solutions that either tie in to DB's core product – rail transport – or provide solutions to future issues that DB can't offer with rail service. There still always needs to be a connection with the Group's primary markets, mobility and logistics, which also include new fields, such as smart cities.

The deciding factor is that the business idea needs to be digital at its core and focus on technology instead of traditional sales or maintenance. One example is WeColli, a platform for logistics companies that organizes zero-emissions last-mile delivery of goods using cargo bikes. The first WeColli team successfully completed the program and is now an internal startup at the DB Group.

Skydeck Accelerator: IT for the railway of tomorrow

At Skydeck, the idea lab of DB's IT provider DB Systel, it's all about innovative IT solutions that help improve DB's core business, rail operations. The heart of the lab is the ten-week Skydeck Accelerator program, which helps employees turn their ideas into prototypes and develop a business model.

In those ten weeks, each team receives extensive expert input. Topics covered include developing business models, new methods like design thinking, and marketing. All teams must develop a prototype and underpin their idea with a business model. They receive guidance from experienced mentors from inside and outside the Group. The program kicks off with a two-day boot camp. Teams meet weekly during the program. At the end, on demo day, they present their prototype and business model to an audience. Then decisions are made about pursuing the ideas that were presented.

The Skydeck Accelerator program has been around for roughly two years. The EVE and AIM projects got their start through the program and have now become independent DB ventures.