Education, entrepreneurship, Lessons Learned, News

Lessons Learned – steps2startup at University of Cologne

I was recently invited to speak about my lessons learned as a startup entrepreneur at the steps2startup program at the University of Cologne.

steps2startup is a student initiative at the University of Cologne to help young people interested in startups and entrepreneurship build their network and exchange experiences and ideas with like-minded people. It is important for entrepreneurs to get started on their ideas and build on their business, so they will need as much advice as they can get, this may even mean contacting a trade secret lawyer California firm or a firm in their location so they can see how they can protect their ideas.

It was inspiring to see about 50+ student in attendance at a very busy exam time.

Here are the slides I used:

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entrepreneurship, Events, News, pitching, startup

Startup Weekend Amsterdam


I recently attended Startup Weekend Amsterdam because:

1.) It’s just a whole lot of damned good fun!
2.) SWAMS has got to be one of best Startup Weekends anywhere
3.) I recently founded Startup Weekend Cologne so I had to attend a Startup Weekend as a requirement – Stay tuned for more!

James Digby (@digbyj) kicking it all off:

James Digby kicking off Startup Weekend Amsterdam #swams

Then the awesome legendary Steve Blank (@sgblank) made a cameo appearance and I just had to ask him if he invests in European startups – On which he retorted I should first take some of his classes. Hah, so we meet again, Steve! I think I’ll have to take you up on that one! :)

UPDATE: I did take Steve up on that one. :)

The AWESOMENESS! Steve Blank surprise keynote at Startup Weekend Amsterdam! Hi again @sgblank :) #swams

So exiting that we’re all standing on our chairs!

And now we're so excited we're standing on our chairs! #swams

The amazing SWAMS location, Pakhuis De Zwyger:

Photo winning the grand prize for thinking big; A non-profit charity where 100% of your donations go to the cause:

Check out non-profit for 100% of your charity going to the cause! #swams


And of course I couldn’t help pitching myself and accidentally ended up winning the Startup Weekend Spirit award for our team for completely p0wning the judges and capturing the audience but also by telling the story of the learning made, how we invalidated the business model of some other guy’s idea I had originally joined, how the team then collapsed and the idea owner going home, leaving us basically a couple of hours on the last day to come up with this.

@blacktar: Never lunch alone again! Meet new people over chow: Sign up and we'll match you with a lunch date near you! #swAMS

W00t! Good times!

I’m incredibly excited about bringing Startup Weekend to Cologne!

Here are the slides I used:

UPDATE 2013:

Almost exactly one year after i presented Lunch Roulette at Startup Weekend Amsterdam, I was visiting the new Facebook HQ in Menlo Park and found out that they had implemented some of the ideas for their staff internally.

Hah! Even the logo looked uncannily familiar! I’ll take that as validation, thank you.

See for yourself:

Internal Facebook memo on the wall at the HQ in Menlo Park,  June 2013.

Internal Facebook memo on the wall at the HQ in Menlo Park, June 2013.


Boom or Bust!

Dear friends and random strangers! You might have noticed that I’ve been extraordinarily boring quiet in the last couple of months. The reason is that I’m working on the next big thing ™ bootstrapping a new startup with partners. It’s not like it’s the new F-117 but we’re kinda stealthy about it still.

We think we are addressing a real-life problem by tapping into existing potential to mitigate it. I know that isn’t saying much but I’m super excited about this! We’re either changing the world or going home on this one.

We’re all about doing the heavy lifting aggregating power and wrangling leveraging technology to work for people – real people like you and your family and friends and colleagues – and not the other way around. (Ok, maybe not for you, you and you – but for YOU!)

It may just be a small step in a nacent field, but we think its potential to make a difference in your life is just awesome. We are extremely passionate about it. We want to be able to share our vision with you any-day-real-soon-now!

What makes us perhaps a little different than most of your average garden-variety tech startups – besides our vision – is our eclectic team. Our team consist of seasoned pros with a couple of merit badges of their own. I am super excited to have them onboard!

I think there’s such a great background story behind it all too. I wish I could tell you more right now.

Should you be looking to invest, our Keynote deck is quite fancy and our enthusiasm for our vision highly contagious, but we’d love to get back to you in a month’s time or so when our own money, blood, sweat and tears has transmogrified into proof.

If you’re interested to know more I would love to have a coffee with you right about now. If you’re interested in contributing, help out or join, come aboard – we’re expecting you!

Let’s talk! My iPhone is as always +49 (0) 151 40 133 149. My mail is as always [email protected]. My lines are as always open. :)

Business Ideas, entrepreneurship, Events, startup

Freigeist Conference CGN

On Thursday the 6th of May I attended the Freigeist Conference at Rheinenergie Stadium in Cologne. The conference connects movers and shakers in the regional online tech and marketing scene; marketers, agencies, programmers, global companies (Google, Microsoft, etc), start-ups, consultants, venture capital, funders, founders, investors and the like. I thought it would be a good opportunity to reconnect with old contacts, meet new and sample the general status of the regional tech scene.

I had to cut the conference short to attend to matters at work, not being able to attend the more social sessions and the start-up pitch competition in the evening, but here’s a rough of what I experienced before having to leave prematurely.


Steffen Kramer from Google Germany showed off some of the tools they provide to plan, track and monitor online marketing efforts and a brief primer how to use them:

Google Insights For Search

Google Ad Planner

The Google Business Channel on YouTube provides more videos on their solutions.

I managed to live-stream some of the talks, but the network and software was unfortunately a bit flaky.

Thierhoff Consulting

Dr. Kai Thierhoff talked about successful German startup stories, but unfortunately – at least in my personal opinion – the focus of the talk was mostly on clones of US start-ups, the German mee-too companies that will, as I see it, have extreme problems sustaining business after launch (just a hint to copycats; the Internet knows no borders, you know) – and besides are very boring and very non-innovative. He also mention the brilliant presentation template from Sequoia Capital that is worth checking out if you are thinking of pitching VCs for funding.

Microsoft Azure

MSFT Azure is (like e.g. Amazon Web Services) a software and hardware answer to cloud computing needs with their respective products and services.

The potential applications of Microsoft Azure are vast so many people take exams like this az303 exam to earn certifications to show they have good knowledge of the application. These exams cover everything from network, storage, and security to cloud development to self-service management capabilities.

Carsten Humm, technology evangelist at MSFT held a basic primer on the concept and pricings. A selling point was that they comply with EU data storage and privacy laws – the data is saved within the EU should you require it.

He also mentioned that MSFT will be holding a BizSpark Camp in Cologne on the 24th of June if that’s your sort of thing.

Here’s a short primer on MSFT Azure lifted off YouTube: