Alexander Koelbl, founder of HEADING ON

Photo of Alexander Koelbl

Alex is the founder of HEADING ON. It is best described like a “Fitbit® for your car”. Simply plug the HEADING ON tracker into your car and receive notifications on your mobile device when your vehicle needs attention. HEADING ON is currently rolling out its second prototype and will be open for funding soon.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I have been with Vodafone for 13 years, introducing new products to the corporate market. At one of the reorganisations, I decided it was time for me to work on my own ideas. Less than 24h after handing in my badge, I was on a plane to the US. In Silicon Valley I experienced how much positive energy and support there was in the startup scene. I was sold and soon after returning to Oxford created HEADING ON, “the Fitbit® for your car”.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?

For me it is about keeping your eyes wide open and identifying a problem a number of people experience. It is about listening and then delivering an attractive solution.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?

When people asked me when the product would be available, because it would empower them and they’d need it right now.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?

Going through the world with your eyes wide open.
Remaining positive and paying forward.
Getting used to being outside of your comfort zone (easier said than done).

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

Being surrounded by amazing people with a positive and helpful attitude.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?

On my vision board there is a photo of Elon Musk. For me, he is an example that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. I also like the companies he’s involved in take things to the next logical step without skipping any.

If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?

I would probably ask what routines and habits he thinks everybody should adopt.

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

If I had to do it again, I would do market research earlier. This is to prove there is a need and people are willing to pay for it.

How have you funded your ideas?

Currently, I am spending my savings. However, soon after the rollout of the second prototype, HEADING ON will be open for funding.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?

Not yet.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

Oxfordshire is big enough to have its own startup scene, yet close enough to London to access a much larger pool of entrepreneurs, investors, etc. I think Oxfordshire could do more to transform itself into an even bigger hub for innovation.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?

First, I would make them subscribe to the Enterprising Oxford newsletter. Then I would send them to the Entrepreneurship Centre at Said Business School to check out the VIEW programme. Finally, I would recommend to check out the entrepreneurship online courses at MIT

Any last words of advice?

No magic happens inside the comfort zone.