Exchange between the generations: Mario Diener wanted to set up a student visiting service for older people.
How, Mr Diener, does a Bachelor of Economics get interested in nursing?
During my studies, I accompanied a demented woman for one and a half years; during two half days a week. The customer did it well and for me it was a sensible part-time job. We thought that this model could be multiplied.
Today you work for the WWF. After all, the project didn’t come about. Was there no need?
Loneliness in old age is a serious problem. According to the Federal Statistical Office, every third pensioner – we are talking about around 400,000 people – sometimes or often feels lonely. But we had to find out that there are two sticking points for our service.
Firstly, there are offers from foundations that work with volunteers; compared to these competitors, we would have been too expensive with our plan to pay fair wages to the students. Secondly, it was not so easy to get in touch with the target group. Lonely people are closed off and no longer take part in social life. In business terms. Customer acquisition would have cost us too many resources.
What are you taking out of the course?
I have learned how to approach an entrepreneurial project. There is a methodology that helps you avoid mistakes. For example, we recognized the killer factors early on and therefore stopped in time. But the many discussions with course participants, foundation representatives, authorities and potential customers were also valuable.