He describes himself as a ‘completely normal student, but one who attaches great importance to technology.’ However, anybody who hears Tobias speaks quickly realises that this young man is anything but average. Tobias is instead more of a man of action. And what he does, he does properly - and in an orderly fashion. Thinking. Speaking. Inventing things that make our everyday lives just a little more comfortable.
This 6ft-tall 20-year-old has an eye for spotting a problem. And he has the right hands and sufficient skill to solve them - for example with such nifty inventions as Catch>>Up, the small parts filter for vacuum cleaners, with which Tobias recently enjoyed success in Germany’s most popular show for entrepreneurs. The device comes into play before the vacuum cleaner hoovers up something it isn’t supposed to - like Lego, screws or earrings. An intelligent filter, Catch>>Up knows just what to do in such situations - it saves the accidentally hoovered item before it is lost for ever to the vacuum cleaner bag. That’s why Catch>>Up separates anything that is not dirt nice and neatly into a transparent plastic container. As proper and precise as the inventor himself.
On Tuesday night, Tobias sealed a deal with Lion and businessman Ralf Dümmel, and in return Dümmel won an inventor who is overflowing with new ideas. Just a few months ago, while Tobias was still at school, he spent several months working in detail on developing a mobile measuring station which would be capable of documenting which pollutants were present in the air. The device has since increased in value to between €30,000 and €40,000, and has won multiple awards.
‘When I have an idea, I have to start making it a reality straight away. Literally, straight away. That’s just how I am.’
It all started in his parents’ cellar in the Bergisches Land region of North-Rhine Westphalia. His family’s neighbours can probably all testify to that. ‘When I have an idea, I have to start making it a reality straight away. Literally, straight away. That’s just how I am’ Tobias explains - so euphorically in fact, that his enthusiasm almost automatically transfers to the other person in the conversation. ‘One time I went down to our workshop in the middle of the night and sawed, hammered and drilled so loudly that all of a sudden all of our neighbours were standing there in the cellar too.’ They had to hold out while Tobias measured every vacuum cleaner going to assess its shape in order to further the development of Catch>>Up.
The young inventor even found himself barred from an electrical store that stocked in his local branch more vacuum cleaners made by every possible manufacturer than all his neighbours put together. Tobias returned to the shop time after time to test Catch>>Up on real subjects at every stage of the development, until the store detective eventually decided that enough was enough.
It took almost two years to develop Catch>>Up into what it is today. Two years in which Tobias carried out continuous research, discussed his invention with friends, his family and experts, spoke to vacuum cleaner manufacturers and various entrepreneurs and repeatedly refined his prototypes. During those same two years, he also passed his A-Levels, started a degree in Industrial Design and began giving seminars on the subject of Virtual Reality as a lecturer at a Junior University.
As I said earlier, Tobias is something of a man of action.