entrepreneurship, startup

Let’s Facilitate – Hello Leipzig!

The first SW Leipzig is a WRAP! What a Weekend!

The first SW Leipzig is a WRAP! What a Weekend!

I love to help people discover entrepreneurship and to help spread the word on the methods anybody can use to start their own next big thing. In fact, I love it so much that organizing the Startup Weekend Cologne, being an Instructor at NEXT Cologne and organizing the Hacker News Cologne Meetup isn’t enough. So to do more, I’ve now become a facilitator for the Startup Weekend organization!


So what does that mean? That means that I’m volunteering at least two long weekends a year to be shipped around the world to help moderate and facilitate a Startup Weekend in your city – so contact me or tell SW HQ you want me to rock it with you! I’m looking very much forward to meeting so many new awesome people!

And I’m losing my facilitator virginity this very weekend at the awesome Startup Weekend Leipzig (and if you HURRY there’s a very few tickets still left). So see you in Leipzig or at a Startup Weekend near YOU! :)


An the winners are...

An the winners are…



Let's play Half-Baked - The ice breaker that gets you in the mood

Let’s play Half-Baked – The ice breaker that gets you in the mood

Look who I met!  Magento co-founder Yoav Kutner was one of the Startup Weekend Leipzig speakers

Look who I met! Magento co-founder Yoav Kutner was one of the Startup Weekend Leipzig speakers

Full house at the epic SW Leipzig venue

Full house at the epic SW Leipzig venue

entrepreneurship, Events, pitching, startup

There’s a new startup event in Cologne: Introducing the Rheinland-Pitch!

As you probably know, I’m passionate about pitching – because we SUCK at pitching here in Europe! So when the new Cologne-based incubator STARTPLATZ asked me if I would be interested in getting involved in a new program to help our regional startup entrepreneurs becoming better at pitching, I wasn’t hard to convince.

So say hello to the Rhineland-Pitch!

The Rhineland-Pitch is a pitch competition event held at STARTPLATZ every last Monday of each month that aims to heighten the quality of our regional startup pitches by providing intensive training to the applicant entrepreneurs and letting the winners pitch to a select and exclusive audience of entrepreneurs, press and investors.

A week in advance, all applicants get a one hour intensive crash course on pitching and after a rapid-fire elevator pitching session, the winners get an additional and immediate four hours of individual pitch training from yours truly.

At the end of the individual training sessions there’s immediately another selection process where the entrepreneurs present the pitch they’ve prepared and the best get invited to the Rheinland-Pitch event the following Monday.

So what do you win except for the glory? Well, a chance to pitch in front of and meet with investors, get critical feedback – AND a video of your final pitch to boot! (So you better make your performance count!)

And it’s all for free! So apply now for the next Rheinland-Pitch May 27th!

Last Monday April 29th saw the first ever Rheinland-Pitch and here are some impressions from it:

Some stats from the first round:

  • 17 applicant teams
  • 7 teams with the best elevator pitches received individual pitch coaching
  • 5 teams made it through to the Rhineland-Pitch event

And the winners are:

  1. Mighty-Office
  2. Versicherungsordner24
  3. measurADz
  4. meetjockey
  5. Offensiv

Image CC Thomas @boydroid Riedel
See Thomas @boydroid Riedel of NERDHUB’s gallery for more photos of the event.

And check out this bonus video to learn more about the competition, coaching and selection process:

If you didn’t make it the first time, practice and try again! See you there!

entrepreneurship, startup

On NEXT Cologne Q1 2013

So we brought Startup Weekend NEXT to Cologne as one of the first few cities in the world back in December 2012 and now the second cohort of the program in Cologne recently finished.

Here’s a little update on how that turned out.

Startup Weekend NEXT is an intensive five week educational program to help more startups survive by having the startup teams getting out of the building and into the real world applying customer development and business model generation to help validate their startup idea and find their product-market fit.

 Julia Tide, founder of Petomino presenting on Canvas Day

Continue reading

entrepreneurship, startup

Navy vs Pirates

Recently, thinking about what Steve Jobs said “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy”, it occurred to me that it’s a great metaphor to explain the difference between an existing company and a startup.


An existing company is like the navy, executing – not necessarily people – but business plans, following established processes and procedures, using well described (road) maps, taking well-calculated and minimal risks – punishing anyone who doesn’t follow the rules.

A startup is like a small band of pirates searching for the treasure of a repeatable and scalable business model drawing their own maps as they sail on, building measuring and learning, taking a lot of risk – rewarding those who break and disregard the rules to get the gold.

So you want to know more about the differences between startups and existing companies? Check this out!

entrepreneurship, Mobile, Software, startup

Death to the Cult of Stealth Startups!

Let there be light!

You might already know of my bootstrapped startup Gauss – The People Magnet. What some of you might not know is that I teach entrepreneurial students at universities, young hopeful startups at NEXT, keynoting events and F500* corporates that as a startup entrepreneur you need to:

  • Talk to everybody about everything all of the time
  • Expose yourself and your ideas to as many people (your potential users and customers) as soon as possible
  • Acknowledge and understand that no smart person or company will ever copy you before you have a validated and proven business model

I have come to realize that it is about embarrassingly high time that I start practice what I preach. It’s about time to start eating my own dog food. I’m spontaneously throwing everything out there to see what happens when you shine as much light from as many sources as possible on your ideas and assumptions instead of having them worshipped inside the cult of the stealth startup. I don’t expect much and I have nothing to lose but my vanity, so here we go.

I hereby declare death to the cult of stealth startups and pledge and acknowledge that I will:

  1. Publish and solicit feedback as broadly as possible on any and all prototypes before writing a single line of code (e.g. as features described in text, click-dummies or paper wireframes)
  2. Be ready to face any and all critique in public in any form or way, the more and more brutally honest the better
  3. Risk the embarrassment of being ridiculed and failing spectacularly in public
  4. Risk having my ideas stolen by competitors
  5. Only exercise the option to stop sharing everything in public, if and only if, I have a validated product-market fit or when I have a validated business model

As of now, I’m going to publish all prototypes instead of following the cult of the stealth startup. I LOVE your feedback going forward and you can use this form (so you can remain anonymous) or feel free to leave comments on this post in public. Be brutally honest. I’m ready to take it! :)

Here’s a scrappy video walk-through (and in no way am I apologizing for the poor quality, because I also preach it is better to have something instead of nothing!):

And here are two click dummies for you to test on your iPhone for yourself (they should sort of work on Android too, though).

The main click-dummy with core concepts. (Try this first for basic concepts and tap Robert Scoble to test features as his profile is the only interactive one)

This next click dummy will show you what happens when you get a notification from Gauss. (BTW, profiles are inactive, not tap-able in this version)

Let me know what you think. Is this a great idea or worst ever? Should we all remain loyal followers of the dark cult of the stealth startup or is it about time to let the public sunshine in? I shared this post on HN so feel free to continue the discussion there too.


*Caveat: Obviously, if you’re inside a F500 corporation, sharing within your enterprise is assumed, not necessarily with the public. That would obviously open up a can of whoop-ass from your legal department. Enterprise is funny that way.