What’s next for (early-stage) startups in NRW?

On stage today, keynoting at the RuhrSummit 2019… (thank you for the picture Robin Wauters)

Today, speaking about what I think is next (for the early stage startups in NRW) at the RuhrSummit 2018.

And cryptically plugging my next big thing to contribute to it…

Going back to 2013, I published “What’s next for the Cologne Startup Scene“. The short answer back then from my perspective was more education. More education about why startups are not Existenzgründung, not smaller versions of existing companies, more education to make more capable founders, make more capable founders go further, faster – the Lean Startup way. And I made some curmudgeon musings on the state of affairs back in 2016.

And I’ve put my money where my mouth was and doing my part to contribute to that goal (Hacker News Meetup Cologne, Startup Weekend Cologne, Startup NEXT Cologne, Rheinland-Pitch, Lean Launchpad Cologne, Lean Launchpad Dusseldorf, Open Office Hours –, etc)

Fast forward to 2018, it makes no sense to keep a myopic city-level perspective (I’m happy if people outside can even place Germany on a map and you don’t talk about SF or Palo Alto – you talk about SV) so I think we should talk about what this state of NRW, North-Rhine Westphalia, in Germany needs next – not what City X needs.

Fast forward to 2018, and we’re literally drowning in “education” options for startups. Which is really great – to some extent.

If we compare the path of a startup’s journey to the classical educational system, yes, we now have a lot of educational options. But not necessarily for all kinds of startups – especially when it comes to more capable founders.

So we have the kindergarten, the pre-school, primary and secondary school, high school and maybe also some community college and “VHS” (German evening school) level options. Heck, maybe one or two Phoenix University level options if being generous.

What is missing is the more elite and ambitious Stanford and Harvard level of universities that would classically vet quality applicants and open the best available opportunities to their alumni on graduation.

NRW runs the risk of being stuck in an “Amateur Hour” loop, or at best at a “high-school to college level” where more competent founders, people wanting more, from within will migrate to Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris or SV – and the ones from the outside won’t consider locating here, migrating to elsewhere.

In short, we don’t have anything remotely like a YCombinator in NRW. Is it possible to have something like YC here? I think that’s not very likely as the playing field is vastly different. This is not SV and is never going to be.

But can we do much, much, much better than we are currently offering to startups (and indirectly to investors) in NRW today?

Hell, yes! I’m betting on it.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that when I grow up I want to help YOU fund your BIG idea.

Now after recently becoming a father, I might actually have grown up – finally.

I think the time has now come to be the change I want to see in the world.

That said, I might not know what the hell I’m doing. But I’m once again ready to put my money where my mouth is.

That’s why I’m asking for your help. Because this one is going to take a village.

What do you think is next for (very-early to early-stage) startups in North-Rhine Westphalia?

Do you want to see what I think is the next big thing in NRW, the thing I’m now ready to be working on for the long term?

Give me your email address and I’ll let you in on it – ever so slowly:

These were my slides today:

corporate entrepreneurship, speaking, startup

Keynoting at the opening of the digiHUB Aachen

Keynoting @ opening of digiHUB Aachen

Recently I was honored and delighted to be invited to keynote the opening of the new digital HUB in Aachen, where I spoke about why and how corporations engage with startups (and sometimes vice versa).

As a known startup evangelist, the venue was perhaps the most fitting I’ve spoken at so far. The event was held in the digital church, a church converted to a coworking space!

I think it’s safe to say the opening sparked some interest… The digital church was packed!

That guy…

These were the slides I used:

Dr. Michael Bayer of IHK Aachen welcoming us to the opening of the digitalHUB Aachen – and what a location; The first coworking space in a church in Germany!

Events, pitching, startup

The Rheinland Pitch Summer Finals 2017 is a success!

Bigger & better than ever

Yesterday saw the third ever Rheinland Pitch Summer Finals (the two previous finals were also spectacular).

And what an incredible finals it was; Once again supported by Digitale Stadt Düsseldorf and Marketing Club Düsseldorf, a record +1.300 people signed up pre-event, insuring a full house at the spectacular event location at Düsseldorf Airport DUS.

The Rheinland Pitch is Germany’s largest continuously running startup pitching event since 2013. It’s a monthly startup pitching event, where regional startups in all phases are invited to apply. . Our fantastic sponsors insures the event stays free for the startups and it’s free for the audience.

The selected startups (usually 7-12 per month) receive a full day of pitch coaching and help with their pitch decks for free (by me), pitching their results at the end of the day. From those pitches we select the three best to put on stage a week later, in the evening on the last Monday of the month, in front of an audience of press, media, investors, students, entrepreneurs and the general public that selects the best pitch by public voting.

Every six months, we have a best-of-the-best finals where the winners from the last preceding months are put on an even larger stage at an even larger event. At these events we also have an expert jury that counts for 50% of the votes.

We call this the Rheinland Pitch Summer & Winter Finals.

This guy was moderating…

Three best-of startups plus an additional wildcard were pitching…

The audience was engaged and entertained…

More information and images from the finals can be found on the Rheinland Pitch Facebook page.

And the winner is… MySchleppApp – an Uber for towing

Events, startup

Moderating @ Hungarian E-Health Day DUS

Hungarian E-Health Day @ Factory Campus, Düsseldorf,
here with representatives from the Hungarian Consulate, sponsors and NRW.INVEST

Recently I was invited by the Hungarian Consulate in Düsseldorf to moderate their e-health themed startup and corporate innovation event, Hungarian E-Health Day.

That guy again…

The event saw a mix of German and Hungarian established companies sharing insights in the sector of health and data security together with new upcoming Hungarian startups pitching the audience.

And the winner is… The creators of an app to help people with attention deficit disorder