Europe’s finest startups, eagle-eyed investors, an international network of mentors, and a universal passion for entrepreneurship. No, we’re not talking about GTEC (although we could see why you’d get confused), but Startup Night in Berlin!
On September 2nd and 3rd, over 200 startups gathered to pitch, network, and explore the startup scene along with 4000 guests from all over the world. Launched in 2013, Startup Night is now a mainstay in the Berlin startup scene, so naturally, GTEC was there!
GTEC first appeared at the Startup Conference on Saturday, held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin. The Chamber, particularly its Berlin partner unit and their startup team, have been making strong strides to strengthen their ties to the startup world, and has been partnering with Deutsche Telekom to bring Startup Night to the scene. The focus of the conference was on how startups should tackle founding and funding, and who better than to discuss these topics with than Christoph Raethke, our Director of Education. He was quite the “challenging” moderator (hub:raum’s words, not ours) of one of the closing panels of the conference: “Startup Programs: The Good, The Bad and the Unexpected”.
As 5 of 6 panelists had founded a company, Christoph opened the panel by asking them what their biggest learning was from founding (challenging, indeed…). For Stephan Jacquemot from Microsoft, the biggest lesson was how so many founders neglect the importance in choosing the right team (which he ultimately blames for the demise of his first company). Jess Erickson from 500Startups shared her personal story of not negotiating hard enough to garner larger stakes in the companies, causing her to lose out on potential revenue from successful turnouts (take note, founders!). Masoud Kamali of Project Flying Elephant claimed that the biggest learning was to WORK HARDER, which is apparently something that he thinks entrepreneurs in Berlin could stand to learn (although we think he might change his mind after seeing how the startups at GTEC hustle…).
The conversation then went on to discuss whether corporates “destroy startups”, which Christoph then quickly rephrased to “do corporates suck their blood?” According to Hanno Harland of DB Mindbox, the issue is that startups in Germany are so risk-averse (how passé), which requires corporates to step in and take the reins on the future of the startup, especially considering how little private capital is flowing in Germany. Inga Land of e.on agile agreed, adding that corporations need startups as drivers of the digital transformation, making the relationship more than reciprocal. We know this is a delicate subject, dividing many in the scene, so please share your opinion with us below!
After the panel, we visited our startups participating in the Expo at VW Forum, where Richard, founder and CEO of iCombine, was holding down the fort. iCombine is aiming to change the face of HR by abolishing standard CVs, and Richard had wonderful things to say about his experience at Startup Night: “This was our first time at Startup Night and it was everything I expected it to be – fun, vibrant, and challenging. iCombine has already presented its business in front of a large crowd, but I’ve never pitched for 7 hours straight before. I was able to meet so many likeminded entrepreneurs, potential cooperation partners, future customers, and supporters.”
Later in the night, Christoph was on stage again at his now-famous G-Force Meetup, where the bravest wantrepreneurs with nothing but an idea come to get their dreams stomped on by the man himself. With over 1,200 past participants, people seem to like what they get, and this time was no exception. From determined developers hoping to change the face of coding, to self-proclaimed banana queens aspiring to save young girls in Africa by building a German banana empire, Christoph gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) provided feedback, guidance, and critical mentorship so valued by the Berlin startup community.
After such a jam-packed day of events, everyone was happy to roll up their posters, pack up their stack of collected business cards, and head to the Hauptstadtrepräsentanz Telekom building for Startup Night’s legendary after-party. With flowing drinks and pumping beats, partygoers bonded over their giddiness after engaging in one of the most important weekends in Germany’s startup scene. GTEC is proud to have participated in Startup Night, helping to make it the diverse, fruitful and majorly rewarding event that it continues to be for Berlin and beyond. Thank you, Startup Night, and fantastic job Cem Ergün-Müller – see you next year!