Back teaching in Switzerland again


Recently I was back in Switzerland. This time I was teaching Co-operation Management and Innovation Clusters at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland outside of Zürich.

Unfortunately I cannot share the slides I used this time due to 3rd party IP rights.

What I can share are the six factors that repeat in successful innovation clusters, like say Boulder, Colorado:



Low costs

Supportive public offices

Quality of living

Qualified workforce

How would you rate each factor where you are situated? What could be improved? What needs to be improved? What will you start to improve? Conversely, where will you move your business if these factors aren’t satisfactory where you are today?

Education, entrepreneurship, startup

The state of NRW and startups

Speaking truth to the crowd, why NRW is a great place to found your startup                                                                                                                       Copyright: Ralph Sondermann,

I recently had the honor and pleasure to be invited by NRW.INVEST together with representatives from The Pirate Summit to present the advantages of founding a startup in our state at the Czech and Hungarian “Stammtisch” in Düsseldorf, to a crowd of regional officials and stakeholders, Czech and Hungarian emissaries and startups.

Posing with NRW.INVEST, IHK Dortmund and the Czech and Hungarian delegates                                                                                                       Copyright: Ralph Sondermann,

I didn’t use any slides for this presentation, but you can find a lot of the content in the presentation I previously held for a French delegation.


entrepreneurship, Lessons Learned, startup

On Location Based Services

Painted in Waterlogue

Writing on the Wall: A Business Model Canvas, complete with festively colored Post-Its, Atherton, CA June 2013.

This post has been gather digital dust in private draft form since May 2013. I thought I’d finally publish it to share with anyone interested in location based services.


In what now seems like eons ago, I founded a location based tech startup called “Gauss — The People Magnet”. It took me on a roller-coaster ride around the world — from the front page of The New York Times to near personal bankruptcy in the course of about two years. It folded before we got somewhere significant. If you’re interested in the background for founding ‘Gauss — The People Magnet’, there are a couple of old posts for that.

In this post I’m completely cleaning out the closet with my thoughts and experiences related to that startup, including potential revenue sources and business models. It’s a long and winding read — a very mixed bag, assembled from scattered notes.

Caveat Emptor in 2016: If any of this looks familiar or straight forward today, rest assured they weren’t when we started out back in early 2011. To wit: successful monetization of non-dating social discovery apps arguably still hasn’t happened yet.


I know this is a long and bumpy read, so here’s the short version:
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Events, hustling, startup

Startup Ambassador @ SXSW 2016

Hanging with the legend Guy Kawasaki at the German Haus @ SXSW 2016

Hanging with the legend Guy Kawasaki at the German Haus @ SXSW 2016

I was honored and delighted to be invited back as an official startup ambassador to the state of NRW and join the German delegation to SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Last year, I couldn’t make it as I was teaching in Iran – but this year it fortunately fit my schedule. And what a blast we had showcasing the best our region has to offer of early stage startups!

And what does such an ambassador do, you may ask? For one, I help the delegation pick and persuade the best and most representable regional startups to go over there with us – and the kind of startups that also would have a strategic benefit other than vanity in gaining exposure in the US. Once on the ground, I help to make sure our startups connect with the people of their interest and help drag notable international startup people to the German events (kicking and screaming). I also serve as a door opener and “private events” radar, making sure our startups gets into the interesting spontaneous private events during SXSW.

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Education, entrepreneurship, Lean Startup, startup

Lean Launchpad DUS is a wrap!


The very first Lean Launchpad DUS Powered by PwC is a wrap! 9 teams entered the 5 week program – and 6 teams made it through. Have a look at the final public presentation day in the video below:

The Lean Launchpad is the world’s premier pre-accelerator program for startups. It’s an intensive 5 week, in-person, mentorship-driven 100% experience-based course to create more capable regional entrepreneurs and prepare them for their first investment round, an application to an accelerator, launching their first minimum viable product or setting them off on a self-funded, bootstrapped path.

See you again soon – Lean Launchpad is coming back to Cologne again for 2016 – so stay tuned for the dates!