A startup that’s the talk of the school.

These days, nearly every pupil has a smartphone. And yet there are no digital timetables or homework assignments? There’s another way, thought Daniel Zacharias to himself. His startup Sdui ensures better education throughout Europe.

When Daniel Zacharias and his co-founders established their startup Sdui in 2018, they were three people sitting in a small room in the Koblenz TechnologieZentrum. Now, they rent the entire third floor of a modern office building across from the University of Koblenz. Around 90 of the company’s more than 200 employees work here. Within five years, the startup achieved a meteoric rise with an important mission: improve education through digital services.


It all began with a “somewhat self-serving idea,” Zacharias explains. When he was a pupil, the now 25-year-old waited in vain during first period for his teacher – only to learn that class was canceled because the teacher was sick. “At the time, I thought: why am I just finding out about this now, when I’m already at school? Why can’t pupils be informed that the teacher is sick while they are still at home sitting at the breakfast table?”


“Why can’t pupils be informed that the teacher is sick while they are still at home sitting at the breakfast table?”



Zacharias and his fellow pupil Jan Micha Kroll got together and tinkered around on a solution. They developed an app for the “Youth Research” competition designed to improve communication for schools, teaching staff, pupils, and parents.


“Don’t just whine and complain”

“Even back then it was very well received,” says Zacharias. Zacharias, who stands six and a half feet tall, is sitting on a sprawling corner sofa in his startup’s large communal lounge. He wears a black T-shirt with a stitched-on Sdui logo and sips an energy drink.


The large windows offer a view of the picturesque Mosel river. Now and then, employees enter the room and grab a coffee from the machine or get a drink from the large refrigerator. Zacharias greets them casually and smiles. “We simply want to improve something and not just whine and complain,” he says.


Over 13,000 schools and daycare centers worldwide now use digital solutions from the Sdui group for communication between educational institutions, teaching staff, and parents as well as pupils. The platform provides more than just information about canceled classes: Sdui serves as a digital attendance record and digital timetable; it ensures smooth video instruction and offers comprehensive chat functionality. It’s all data protection-compliant and now inclusive, too, as Sdui can automatically translate content into other languages. “We wanted to break down language barriers so that even families who aren’t proficient in German won’t have any problem finding out what’s happening at school.”


Days and nights spent developing

It was a long road, however, to the company’s sophisticated platform and its immense success. “After I graduated from high school, I started university and did internships on the side. But the idea for Sdui stayed with us. We just wanted to do something practical and not only learn a lot of theory.” Thus, in 2018 he founded Sdui as a limited liability company together with Kroll, rented an office space in the TechnologieZentrum, and sat with his former classmate day and night, developing.

In 2019, they took a chance and went on Höhle der Löwen (the German version of “Shark Tank”; literally, “Lion’s Den”), a show on the TV station VOX in which young entrepreneurs present their startup ideas to investors. Zacharias and Kroll didn’t find anyone there who wanted to invest in their startup, “but the marketing effect was amazing,” says Zacharias. The episode aired in 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic had a firm grip on Germany and schools were looking for ways to keep classes up and running.


Tailor-made solutions

“It was crazy. There were countless inquiries,” recounts Zacharias. “The question was no longer how Sdui could grow, but rather how to increase our capacities considerably overnight. How to quickly create features like video conferencing out of thin air.” Several thousand schools have since integrated Sdui’s solutions. And every time, that means giving individual support to educational institutions during the digitalization process. Simply providing the technology is not enough. Zacharias and his team know how important it is for schools and daycare centers to be able to get in touch with Sdui whenever they have questions or problems.


“That’s what we’ve learned in the five years since we were founded: a startup has to continuously deliver solutions for problems. A lot of people think they just have to have an innovative idea, and then they can sell it. But it’s not only about that. It’s about listening when other people talk about their challenges and offering them a solution,” explains Zacharias. The Sdui platform is therefore always being modified in cooperation with schools, daycares, institutions and departments of education.

Lots of support from Rhineland-Palatinate

From the beginning, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the city of Koblenz have supported Sdui on its journey to success. “The TechnologieZentrum here where we have our offices belongs to the state, the city and the office of economic development. This has been a good home for us from the beginning. And the ISB bank (Investitions- und Strukturbank) of Rhineland-Palatinate was our first major investor.”


For Zacharias, a location other than Koblenz was never an option anyway. “I grew up here, we founded our company here. I am a proud citizen of Koblenz and Rhineland-Palatinate. For me, Koblenz is a good base from which to expand with the Sdui Group throughout Europe.” A clear goal that Zacharias is aiming for with Sdui:


“We want to become Europe’s leading partner for educational institutions, from a single school to entire countries.” 



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