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June 4, 2021

Founding Club Stories: Theo Konopatzki

by Jeannet Kiessling

“Multi-versed” is the term that came to my mind when I was talking to Theo, the 26-year-old physicist who is a member of the Founding Club at Tomorrow’s Education. He is a ‘wanderer between the worlds’ looking for the bigger picture behind anything he encounters. Math and the natural sciences came easy in school, and Theo started to read his father’s books on minerals, chemistry and mining when he was just a young boy. “I didn’t comprehend everything, but I found it fascinating - it triggered my interest in understanding the world.” Theo could spend hours looking at a natural phenomenon as simple as a leaf in the wind. “I have a deep fascination for nature and its beauty and I want to understand it in every detail,” says the hobby gardener and arborist.

And yet, he also wrote poetry, read intensively and initially wanted to study literature. He is indeed a ‘man of letters’ as his LinkedIn profile advocates. “It was a close call, but I went for molecular chemistry because I thought it would be a good compromise and cover all my interests.” A few semesters into his Bachelor’s program at the University of Erlangen, he realised that the long held wish to become a physicist was stronger. “I didn’t want to be in the lab all day, I wanted to spend my time on the blackboard, doing theoretical research and explaining things.” Putting complicated matters in plain language is one of Theo’s superpowers and the spark in his eyes when talking about science is contagious. He switched his major to physics and got accepted into the digital tech fellowship at the university, designed to help students turn their ideas into a product. 

The fellowship introduced Theo to the entrepreneurial world. “We were coached intensively to turn ideas into proto-types, after that into products and eventually into a business.” He joined a team of like-minded students and together they developed Oculai, a digital tool to evaluate and improve processes at construction sites. “Understanding how often the very expensive equipment is used, how much downtime it has, and how effectively people are involved in completing a task could really help the construction industry.” While his partners were moving forward with the founding of a company, Theo had his doubts about the product. “I want to invest my time in something that I believe in a hundred percent.” He made the mature decision to let go of the project and set out to learn more before returning to creating his own company. “Through the entrepreneurial experience, I realized that my mission in life is to turn technology into products that help as many people as possible.”

Theo has completed his student internship program at Siemens and is now looking to gather as much experience as possible about running a company, especially the sales side. The Professional Masters program in SET at Tomorrow’s Education will help him on this journey. Theo, who taught himself many skills - amongst others coding in Python - is mostly looking forward to learning in a group of peers. “You can teach yourself anything if you really want, but you cannot substitute the feeling of community and structure that this program offers.” Education is a dear topic for Theo, as teaching is one of his passions. Maybe he'll be teaching at Tomorrow’s Education some day? We would be so honored! Good luck with your studies, Theo!


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