About one year after the installment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Burda's DLD innovation conference in Brussels staged by DLD founder Steffi Czerny started with a wake-up call.
Attendees immersing themselves in digital realities with VR glasses, start-up greats streaming in and out, and ambitious young entrepreneurs being grilled by the jury: Following in Burda’s long tradition of entrepreneurial spirit and technology, around 600 participants made their way to the second Startup Day’n’Nite in Munich. Towards the end of the event, Hubert Burda briefly addressed the audience, emphasising that to set up a successful company, you need the will to win.
Networking caterpillars emerge from their cocoons
A good business network is also important. But how does an introverted coder become a social butterfly? Johann Romefort, a tech evangelist from Stylight, was more of a “caterpillar” than a “butterfly” at the start of his career. He took to the stage at Burda Startup Day’n’Nite to report on his transformation into a Silicon Valley networker.
Patricia Riekel, former editor-in-chief of Bunte, and Steffi Czerny, founder of the DLD digital conference, definitely came into the world as networking butterflies. They are among the best-networked women in Germany and explained how to network successfully in the “Connect or be Connected” panel session. The most important lessons from the panel? Listen, go to events, prepare well and ask intelligent questions!
Founders and digital natives
“Early-stage start-ups are an important target group for Burda. We want to build relationships at an early stage and establish Burda in the start-up community. With the start-up conference, the Burda boot camp has created a valuable platform for this purpose. Above all, this helps us to position Burda as a modern, dynamic company and to personally address company founders and digital natives.”
Stefan Winners, Member of the Executive Board – Digital, explains the goal of Startup Day’n’Nite
Like a first date
What makes investors tick and what does a start-up need to do to win over potential investors? In a panel session, Jennifer Lachman (Xing News) examined this question and coaxed Stefan Winners (Member of the Burda Executive Board – Digital), Christoph Braun (Acton Capital Partners) and Markus Englert (Texas Atlantic Capital) into revealing key tips for start-up pitches. All three agreed that the founding team is the most important thing. Investors pay particular attention to this factor – after all, even the best ideas can only thrive with a well-functioning team. A start-up pitch is like a first date – stick it out and don’t let your nerves destroy your sense of humour.
Just do it!
Thomas Bachem, a successful serial entrepreneur, doesn’t mess around when realising business ideas. On stage, he urged the audience to use his catchphrase and “just do it!” His success proves his point. Having founded the video portal Sevenload, Lebenslauf.com and the Code University in Berlin, he shows that it pays off to implement ideas quickly. “It’s better for a start-up to have an unfinished prototype and a perfect business idea than a perfect prototype and an unfinished idea,” Bachem reminded the audience. Everyone needs to get their priorities right and “just do it!”
Jump in at the deep end!
Legendary investor Yossi Vardi then reported on the experiences he has gathered over a total of 86 investments and called on the audience to gain their own business experience. You cannot learn from other people’s mistakes because, as an outsider, you cannot feel the pain of failure. You need to jump in at the deep end, work hard and, if it doesn’t work out, have the courage to let go of your business idea.
Lessons from starting up in Silicon Valley
In a fireside chat session, Florian Leibert (CEO of Mesosphere) and Stefan Winners discussed the differences between Germany’s start-up scene and Silicon Valley. In contrast to Germany, there is a lot more capital in the US market and more large companies investing in small start-ups. Another key difference is that Silicon Valley is more start-up-friendly – it feels far more natural for people to fail and yet not lose heart. When asked if he could see himself setting up a company in Germany, Leibert told Winners: “If I did, I would found a start-up in Berlin. Germany’s capital is perfect for consumer start-ups.” Leibert went on to say that, in general, Germany has many talented people of great interest to recruiters.
Flexibility, not rigidity!
Jean-Paul Schmetz, founder of the Cliqz browser, comes from an entrepreneurial family and was born with the business gene. Despite all the freedoms that self-employment can bring, many start-ups walk into the same traps. Many company founders assume that their original plan will work. Instead of staying flexible, they cling to their business idea and fail to adapt their company and employees to changing circumstances.
Let’s get physical
“Finally a product you can hold in your hands,” exclaimed an investor back in 2005 when he discovered My Muesli between ideas for software start-ups. Twelve years later, founder Max Wittrock has made German start-up history. In a panel session with other start-ups developing physical products, Wittrock discussed the ideas of Judith Gampe (Nova Products), Jenny Müller (Die Frischemanufaktur) and Giorgi Khubua (Solos Mirrors).
Relevant, inspiring and “hands on”
“With our new Startup Day’n’Nite conference format, we aim to push the Munich start-up community and enrich it with relevant, inspiring and fascinating ‘hands-on’ topics. Our visitors will return home with tangible added value.”
Natalia Karbasova, head of Burda Bootcamp
From 0 to 120
From 0 to 120 employees: Marc Al-Hames, managing director of Cliqz, knows all too well the culture shock that sets in when your company reaches a certain size. The first 20 employees will be role models for later recruits, and must therefore be chosen carefully. For Marc Al-Hames, the passion displayed by new applicants is particularly important – only with passion and shared values can you build a good team.
At the end of Startup Day’n’Nite, ten start-ups pitched to a jury comprising Christian Teichmann (BurdaPrincipal Investments), Nina Zimmermann (BurdaStudios) and Thomas Bachem (Code University). “The Female Company” was crowned the winning start-up.