The morning of May 30th started out as any other for the RBLP group. We wiped the sleep from our respective eyes as plates of breakfast were prepared that consisted of a wide array of continental goodies. The mood was positive as we loaded the vans to embark on the first company visit of the day. Little did we know, our 9:30am visit with ‘The Factory’ would result in what was one of the most insightful and intriguing visits of the entire European escapade. The Factory occupies a section of land in which the Berlin Wall stood less than 30 years ago. Our presenter, Thomas, instantly demonstrated his knowledge regarding start-up companies, entrepreneurship, and the future of technological innovations within the business world. Thomas shared that he taught entrepreneurship at MIT four times a year. We chatted with Thomas about everything from Apple Cars to genome sequencing to artificial intelligence. It was not hard to recognize that the opportunity to absorb information from such a qualified individual was undoubtedly a valuable one that we were thankful to have. Thomas touched on his various investments, before sharing the fact that all of the individuals “working” at The Factory were independent parties with the primary endeavor of starting their own company. Thomas, as an angel investor, sought to personally invest into this array of companies before they truly took off. The collective team assembled at The Factory paid Thomas 55 euros a month in order to make The Factory their primary work space, and in turn join a prestigious community of innovators and entrepreneurs to collaborate with and gain inspiration from.
Our time at The Factory was fantastic, and the discussion continued in the vans all the way to the BMW Motorcycle Production Plant for our 12:00pm visit. We had the opportunity to learn the history of BMW and their product development lines from Tim, our tour guide. It was a great experience getting to see such a globally iconic company in the country that it was founded. Tim talked the group through the 8-hour process that is required to build a motorcycle that involves everything from pre-assembly to painting. We had the chance to take a tour of the facility, where we saw the automated mechanical production, the semi-automated engine assembly, and the fully manual basic assembly. The motorcycles are a product that we see on an everyday basis and don’t get much thought to how they came to be, so it was definitely interesting getting to examine the process that it takes to build and market the various products.
Following the BMW plant, our last event of the day was a quick tour of one of the underground tunnels used to house civilians during the hazardous times of World War II. Much like our Auschwitz tour in Poland, this was a very powerful and sobering experience that was filled with historical information. It was one thing to read about these times in a book, but the chance to experience something like it first-hand is something that we will never forget. May 30th was one of many great days on the trip, and we remain thankful for Texas Tech University, the Rawls College of Business, and the Rawls Business Leadership Program for making this impactful trip a possibility. Each and every one of us will return home with a new perspective on various situations that we will eagerly be able to utilize to provide value within the college, as well as on our future business endeavors.