HTWD alumni Carsten Gieseler founded the company Fodjan at the university's own start-up incubator.
Presse Fodjan
HTWD alumni Carsten Gieseler founded the company Fodjan at the university's own start-up incubator.
Created by Gründungsschmiede, Alumni-Service |

Alumni Story: Carsten Gieseler (Agriculture/Management of mid-sized companies)

Do farmers really only work with their hands in the soil? Certainly not! Digitalisation is also finding its way onto our farms. Modern farmers like Carsten Gieseler are now dealing with topics such as animal welfare, optimised feed conversion and time and cost savings.

Carsten studied at our university from 2007 to 2013. His Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics at the Faculty of Agriculture/Environment/Chemistry was followed by a Master's degree in the Management of Medium-Sized Enterprises programme. Driven by his fascination for entrepreneurship, he founded Fodjan in 2014. The company specialises in data-supported animal feeding and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. An excellent reason to talk to Carsten about 10 years of self-employment and also about what still connects him to his alma mater today.

Which company do you work for and what do you particularly like about your current job?

I work at fodjan GmbH as Managing Director. I really enjoy the variety between different topics, such as international sales to industrial customers, product development or working with the shareholders. With our Smart Feeding software for data-supported animal feeding of dairy cattle, cattle and pigs, we support farmers in their daily work and also make a daily contribution to increasing sustainability in the world with our solution. That spurs me on anew every morning.

What memories do you have of your studies at HTW Dresden?

I studied both in Pillnitz and on the central campus in the city. My degree programme was wonderfully rural combined with the advantages of a city like Dresden. Overall, I liked the high proportion of practical work and the great degree of freedom in the degree programme. I was able to complete the practical semesters in my own start-up, and the Gründungsschmiede provided me with the perfect setting for this.

To what extent did your degree programme prepare you for your career?

More than I thought during my studies. The very practice-orientated yet scientific training still helps me today. Thanks to the many projects that we worked on based on specific problems in companies and the combination of agricultural economics in the Bachelor's and management in the Master's, I enjoyed a very generalist education and can now do many things that artificial intelligence cannot.

Where did you get support for your start-up?

Of course, I attended various courses at the HTWD from various professors and in the start-up incubator on the topic of starting a business. I received continuous coaching from the start-up incubator and was also able to use an office if necessary.

What were your biggest challenges on the path to self-employment and how did you overcome them?

Being self-employed is a quick process, the challenges only begin after the start-up. There are many aspects to consider: Liquidity must always be kept in view, investors must be found, the product must be developed and, above all, customers must be convinced. This is not always easy with a small team. However, we have found both investors and customers. The first investors have already pulled out, but the customers are still there. Overall, it has been worthwhile for everyone so far.


What tips can be given to students who are thinking about starting a business?

In my opinion, founders must be able to listen very well and constantly scrutinise themselves. If you don't learn quickly and can't adapt to market and customer needs, you won't stand a chance. The buying behaviour of target customers is always right. Even Henry Ford would have had to continue selling fast horses if customers had not been prepared to buy cars that they had never wanted before. Entrepreneurs must understand the actual needs of specific customers and offer the right products to fulfil them.

Even today, 10 years after graduating, you are still in close contact with HTWD. How exactly?

At fodjan, we conduct research together with HTWD and have just successfully completed a project. I am already working on our next research project.


About the HTWD start-up incubator

The Gründungsschmiede is the contact point for students, researchers and employees of the HTWD for all questions relating to company foundations and start-up projects. As a partner in the dresden|exists network - the start-up service of Dresden's universities and research institutions - the counselling team provides support from the initial idea to the successful start-up. 

Created by Gründungsschmiede, Alumni-Service |


M.Sc. Miriam Walther

Alumni Relations Officer

M.Sc. Miriam Walther

Dipl.-Kffr. (FH) Susann Bladwell

Dipl.-Kffr. (FH) Susann Bladwell