startup

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-PitchLean Launchpad CologneLean Launchpad Dusseldorf, Open Office Hours – http://ohours.youcanbook.me, 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: http://requestforcomments.org

These were my slides today:

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