Events, pitching

Prepping Startups for the (FINAL!) Pirate Summit

Today, I was honored to be back helping the startups walking the plank at this year’s (and also the final one – RIP 2011 – 2023) Pirate Summit prepare giving feedback on their pitches – one week out before they walk the plank!

I’m also moderating the Walk The Plank pitch competition, so see you there!

And if you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, have a look at the ticket page – there should be tickets available for most kinds of budgets (if they are not sold out yet!).

pitching, startup

Rheinland Pitch turns 10 years old!

Who would have thought… From very humble beginnings of the Rheinland Pitch – to becoming Germany’s largest startup pitching event!

Over ten years ago, in early 2013 Matthias & Lorenz Gräf and me where sitting at what would soon open as STARTPLATZ in Cologne, DE discussing how we could help the founders in the region be more competitive when pitching startup investors.

And keeping with the unpretentious “no frills” spirit of the Rheinland Pitch, we thought it didn’t feel right to be celebrating ourselves – but someone had acquired some festive balloons. ;)

We were (and still are) convinced that the region is a great place to found a startup and that we were (and still are) encountering many competent founders with great ideas here.

However, back then there were two pressing issues of concern:

  1. Every time we listened to their pitches, we didn’t understand what they were about
  2. The general public was not well informed about what a startup is and how it is different from other types of more traditional new businesses.

So we came up with the idea to create an event that would be open to everyone and:

  1. Curate and highlight the most interesting startups in the region
  2. Provide training to the applying startups so they will be more competitive and on their own terms
  3. Bring more mainstream acceptance and understanding of startup entrepreneurship
  4. A regular event as a platform to catch up with and network all sides of the community

I think we’ve succeeded beyond anybody’s expectations. In fact, we didn’t have any particular expectations back at the start. We just said, ok – let’s do it. And a month later the first Rheinland Pitch event was held to a standing-room only full house.

And the rest is history.

Events, pitching

The Rheinland Pitch is back in the real world!

As you might know, the Rheinland Pitch – Germany’s largest startup pitching event – also had to go online-only since March because of the pandemic.

This Monday, on September 14th we were finally back as a physical hybrid event as a part of the Startup Week Düsseldorf – with a reduced number of audience to comply with hygiene regulations – and streaming live on YouTube.

Four regional early-stage startups pitched a capped audience @ Startplatz Düsseldorf and online viewers.

And the winner is… digiblue

We hope to be able to do more events like this. Stay tuned and check the schedule!

For those new to the Rheinland Pitch; it is Germany’s largest Startup Pitch event that I co-founded together with Lorenz and Matthias Gräf of STARTPLATZ back in 2013.

At the time, we were already all convinced that the region of Rheinland holds great potential for startup founders and that we have some great talents around – but every time they tried to tell their story or pitch investors, it would be next to impossible to understand, let alone fund, what they were pitching.

So we thought about what we could do to improve the quality of the investor pitches in Rheinland. STARTPLATZ provided the venue and the network and I provided the pitch training as given to me by my US American mentors. And the result was The Rheinland Pitch, a monthly event free to startups and the public, where 3-4 selected startups are put on stage to pitch in front of investors, entrepreneurs, media and the general public.

A week before they are put on stage, we invite all applicants (average of 14) to a day of investor pitch training with me for free and then we select the 3 or 4 best to put on stage the following week, every last Monday of the month in the evening.

Every 6 months there is also a grand Summer and Winter Finals where the best-of-the-best are pitted against each other, with semi finals leading up to them. In 2018 the grand Summer Finals was at the Düsseldorf airport and saw an audience of over 1.400 people attending.

The result is an incredibly successful educational platform that has seen over 1.000 startups improving their pitch and gaining the knowledge of what it takes to successfully pitch investors today and an over 100.000 audience that have been educated about what a startup is and how it works.

For more information and how to apply, see