More than 3600 founders, investors, press representatives, politicians and entrepreneurs from around the world came together for three days to present, share and discuss relevant topics for people in the startup ecosystem with an amazing finale at the Oktoberfest on Tuesday. We are all still processing the wealth of impressions and information we gathered and wanted to pull together some thoughts here in our blog.
The first impression when setting foot in the Munich trade show buildings at the ICM is the sheer scale and professionalism of the Bits & Pretzels organisation. A huge stage, professional production of the events and abundant catering makes it extensively clear that this is the real deal and demonstrates an impressive growth of the event within just a few months from the first much smaller conference. Day one was focussed on a series of talks on the main stage ranging from successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and Bavarian politicians to a robot demo. The second day split up into various special interest tracks on six different stages commencing in a spectacular keynote by two Silicon Valley heavyweights Loïc Le Meur @loic (Co-Founder Le Web) and Phil Libin @plibin (founder of Evernote). The Schottenhammel Oktoberfest tent was the venue for the conference’s finale.
Some of the key observations we all share is that we all drew a huge amount of inspiration from the entrepreneurs that presented. While 90% of startups may fail, it was clear listening to these leaders that it is not coincidental that the businesses they founded were among the 10% that succeeded. We were also all able to develop a large number of leads to add to our pipeline through all the interesting people we met. The event clearly succeeded in creating an environment where people were open and eager to connecting and sharing ideas. Beyond these common observations, we all took away some unique impressions each one of us wanted to share:
"Customers aren’t revenue streams, they’re your marketing team and your sales force."Mikkel Svane @mikkelsvane, CEO Zendesk
Investor Track, Rising Stars Track, Exclusive Dinner Event with Acton Capital, Wiesn finale with the chief editor of the financial section of Süddeutsche Zeitung Uli Schäfer as table captain.
Talking to Mikkel after his presentation and seeing a great example of how a company very similar to Alyne (European B2B SaaS, targeting a not fully developed market, building on digital distribution channel) can reach a successful Nasdaq IPO.
Biggest let down
Falling for the misleading ticket pricing scheme that led us to paying four vastly different ticket prices to attend the same event.
A digital sales channel can work for a B2B company model and we may need to revisit our initial thoughts on pricing and market focus beyond domestic targets to reflect this. We also saw some great examples of successful large businesses that managed considerable growth without external funding. I also learned a lot about current developments on the capital side from trends in crowd funding, angel investments and venture capital that will be invaluable when we look into funding options.
“A baby shark is still a fucking shark."Florian Gschwandtner @f_gschwandtner, CEO Runtastic
CTO Track, Internet plus Tech, Fintech-Track, final day @ Oktoberfest with Philipp Alvares de Souza Soares, Manager Magazin editor.
Watching the exciting 500 Startups Pitch with amazing contenders, funny ideas and witnessing the worst ever pitcher winning the competition. Also fun: Lots of people downloaded the "Jodel" app and started jodeling right away...
Biggest let down
A rather weak opener compared to the awesome slots that followed.
Basic principles we defined for all technical aspects at Alyne match to the key messages and lessons learned presented by leading startup CTOs.
“Make your developers happy - bribe them with screens!"Lars Jankowfsky @dodgeris, Co-Founder NFQ.com
CTO Track, Hyper-scalable apps with on a pay-per-use basis, Getting the right online payment mix, What it means to design experience–led and the building blocks of great user experiences, Final day @ Oktoberfest with table captain Michiel Goris, CEO of Interhyp AG.
Biggest let down
Moderation between the awesome presentations leaves room for improvement.
Design the user experience by keeping an eye not only on functional requirements but also emotional requirements.
“Done is better than perfect”Curt Harlinghausen @harlinghausen, CTO AKOM360 GmbH or pretty much every second Jodel...
Florian Gschwandtner @f_gschwandtner talk (watched in the live stream from the Ubahn), the freaky Segway Camera robot drone, How to capture attention, Gil Penchina, Joe Green, Peter Arvai, Payback, 500 Startups pitch, German success stories, Loic + Phil, Fintech Track, Online Marketing Track, Schottenhammel Tent.
Smuggling in Giesinger bottles into the main room.
Biggest let down
Wanting to appear really cool and such as a professional naturalized Municher by applying the “Diagonalschnitttechnik” to the Weißwurst on the morning of Day 2, only to notice that the Wurst has a too soft consistency for that to work and me ending up making a mess on the plate (didn’t stop me from making a top contact and super valuable conversation in that moment).
There is no difference between your company’s brand and your personal brand as a founder (the latter probably being even more important). It is totally possible to bootstrap to success. There is so much money flowing into the scene at the moment, it’s mind-boggling and a little scary.
- At no point in time was there ever more net wealth in fewer Lederhosn than at the Bits & Pretzels conference
- Bavarian politicians need to a) speak better English and b) use less cheesy Steve Jobs quotes
- The current obsession of investors with food delivery business models is absolutely surprising - really wonder where this will lead to