Events, speaking, startup

Pirate Summit 2011 – 2023

“It’s better to burn out
than it is to rust.
The king is gone,
but he’s not forgotten.”

Neil Young

Last week I attended (and finally it was the time to bring our oldest pirate in training too) the Last Burn of the PIRATE Summit, the startup event in Cologne, DE with the most special place in my – and many others’ – heart.

And thus it will be no more.

All sorts of emotions going through my mind about this having been the very last Pirate Summit. So amazing to finally catch up again – and especially awesome to finally see startup people from Tehran, Iran again here in Europe! And also so weird it was for the last time in this setting. It’s the end of an era for sure.

It was here, at the very first one in 2011 we introduced the world to Gauss – The People Magnet, the very first Social Discovery app for the iPhone:

Also this time, doing my miniscule part to help out by moderating the very last “Walk the Plank” pitch competition, being on stage again felt kinda full circle 2011 – 2023:

(The final “ARRR!” – Image by Dustin Preicksee more pictures from the event).

It was here in 2011 I got my German and European network of entrepreneurs and investors kick-started. Still some of my most cherished connections to date.

As one of my favourite songs goes; “Maybe it’s better to burn out, than fade away”… so let’s celebrate – and be happy and grateful that it happened (and kept it happening for so long!), not lament that it’s over – ARRR!

Forever grateful for the safe harbour Manuel Koelman, Till Ohrmann and the rest of the band of pirates managed to create (and maintain) for us over these many, many years.

This is going to leave a big hole in the region.
But that’s OK:
It’s the testament to what the Pirate Summit was, is, and forever will be;

“My my, hey hey.

Rock and roll is here to stay.
It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue and into the black.
They give you this, but you pay for that.
And once you’re gone you can never come back.
When you’re out of the blue and into the black.”

Neil Young
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.