Startup Weekend is coming back to Cologne

swcgn2_banner2This year again, the second Startup Weekend Cologne will take place on 24th – 26th of January 2014 at Startplatz, one of the nicest event places in the Cologne Tech Triangle Cologne.

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs; As of April 2013, 1068 events have been held, involving over 100,000 entrepreneurs across more than 400 cities in over 100 countries and over 8190 startups have been created.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!

Student gets 50% with proper ID if they enter “student” code. And designers can bring another designer for free if they buy a designer ticket and mail us at cologne@startupwekend.org with both names.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants”

Just a quick heads up that Lean Startup pirate Ash Maurya is sailing directly from the US to Cologne for the first time! He is one of the top experts in Lean Startup and Customer Development, Speaker at the Lean Startup Conference, international best-selling author of Running Lean, and creator of Lean Canvas.

It’s a big success to have an expert like Asha Maurya come to Cologne. If you want to reach the next level of your Lean Startup knowledge, get your business model pimped and get in touch with Ash and the US startup world then we can highly recommend his workshop.

We have a special pirate discount of 20%. The code is: “leanpirates“. You can get your ticket here.

It’s a two day workshop, but it is also possible to buy a ticket only for one day. Here is additional information on goals and content of the workshop.

Interview with a VC – Kai Schmude // Venista Ventures

Today we will start our new interview seriews “Interview with a VC” and kick-off with interviewing Kai Schmude, COO at Venista Ventures. Enjoy!

Fund keyfacts Venista Ventures:venista_ventures_logo
–> Fund size: not public
–> Fund age/lifetime: company established in 2004, investment division set up in current form in 2010
–> Investment range in € and stage(s): 50,000 to 300,000 Euro, seed and early stage
–> Favorite co-investors: depends, but always smart money
–> Current investments: KissMyAds, Stylemarks, Startupbootcamp, Datapine, Klash, GTX Messaging.

Who are youkai_schmude_2?
I’m Kai Schmude. My position is Chief Operating Officer at Venista Ventures, the Cologne, Germany-based early-stage mobile investor. I joined the company in 2011 and oversee our operations as well as the development of Venista’s Mobile Business Incubator and early-stage investment activities. I’m a graduate from the University of Technology, Aachen, in both Engineering and Business. After founding and establishing an Internet startup and years in management consulting, I served as the Vice President of Cologne’s international Trade Fair, where I was responsible for the development and establishment of all IT and digital media shows including the world leading events dmexco and gamescom. Together with Venista Ventures’ founding partners Christian Teichert and Oliver Wimmeroth, I form the three-man management team. I focus on business development and acceleration and like to expand our network within the digital industry.

Why are you a VC?
We have the drive to build things and pursue them in a structured, result-driven way. Our company, Venista Ventures, is built on strong personal experience and business success of the founding team of entrepreneurs in the mobile industry. I joined this team and oversee the development of the company’s portfolio that has broadened into a proper VC with a focused area of activity. Venista Ventures became a VC because the company wants to identify and help develop promising startups in the mobile sector. We combine the practical approach of self-made businessmen with the structured and result-driven style of the executive world.

Tell us a bit about your fund & investment thesis?
We at Venista Ventures are dedicated to drive and enable mobile innovations. We support entrepreneurs with scalable mobile-centered business ideas. We believe: Developing and implementing an innovative and successful business will only work if you have the right combination of idea, team and partners. We are dedicated to help our portfolio companies to arrive there.

We provide early investments to entrepreneurs in the pre-seed and seed funding stages. We invest in and support entrepreneur sand teams with full determination to creating a great mobile business. We expect a clear and comprehensive plan, full commitment and the unconditional will to execute and to succeed. In addition to our investment, we are a partner for our portfolio companies, supporting them in with technical assistance, business planning, legal, financial, PR and marketing advice.

How do you work with your startups in day-to-day operations? What is your working mode?
Our approach is multi-optional so that each co-operation works in its own way. A key part of our strategy to work with startups is thorough business planning and analysis of KPIs. We provide financing and help with the strategic and managerial setup. We’re prepared to do more if our partners appreciate it. We offer consulting and operational support in a variety of fields, such as legal, marketing, communications etc. So the cooperation varies depending on the startup. Some reside a few meters away from my office and are tightly connected to our staff, others are in Berlin and very independent in their day-to-day activities.

What is the best advice you would give to startups that want to get funding?
Focus on the product and not on fantasy. It’s important to understand the market you’re in and to be willing to adapt initial plans as your experience grows. Before you seek funding, you should have climbed over the first few hurdles, analyzed and understood the market and established commitment from anyone involved in your startup.

What is the next big thing?
We see huge potential when it comes to the so-called Old Economy merging with the digital sphere of the Internet, be it mobile or stationary. Just think of the potential that Internet solutions can unfold in combination with two of the strongest traditional industries, Automotive and Health. Integrating new digital business models in these key industries is where I expect the most interesting developments to happen.

Checkout Startups, People, and Jobs in the Cologne Ecosystem

AngelListWe have already built a gazillion startup maps it feels and the biggest problem with many of them is that there is no benefit above and beyond the map itself. The map really isn’t all that important, a list would suffice. As long as it is something people continue adding to and that stays fresh.

We are attacking the problem for Cologne from different directions at the moment. For example, we are working together with the city of Cologne to build up a map for this year’s DMEXCO, which will be shown at the booth of the city. Watch out for a few startup talks there, too. Many of you might have noticed that the questionnaire that was sent around included a question for your AngeList profile. We did this for a reason.

For a good list to work, there needs to be a reason for you to add your startup to that list and if you think about it, there already is a system, where everybody of you should add their startup. AngelList! The site is already a force to be reconned with in the US, with a lot of funding happening over it and with the recent introduction of syndicates, they might arguably even replace smaller VCs and crowdfunding sites. When they introduced their jobs system, it was heralded because it fits startups looking for startup people from the get go, as there are no other people on that site. There is actually no reason for not adding yourself to AngelList. Both personally and as a Startup.

So without further ado, we introduce The Pirates Inn Startups, also to be found in the main navigation under “Ecosystem”.

This is a list with an added benefit, entirely built up via the AngelList API and soon with Crunchbase integration. All automatically, all fresh as the scene, but with a special view on the Cologne scene. Now go add yourself, your news, your jobs, and make the site fresh as the scene itself.

Pirates On A Plane in Cologne

ARRR folks!

In a few weeks from today over 500 pirates will hijack Cologne during the European Pirate Summit! This EVENT is going to be crazy, dangerous and a real pirate fun! There is no other place to be in August except for Cologne – one of the important startup cities in Europe!

Yes, you just read right: NO OTHER PLACE IN EUROPE IS MORE EXITING DURING THE PIRATE WEEK!

POAP in Cologne

There are a lot of other satelite events before and after the European Pirate Summit like the DevHouseFriday Chillout, the Pioneers Unplugged, the Pirate Hack, Leancamp etc. And now we’re announcing one more! Right after the Pirate Summit on Wednesday, 28th of August: Pirates On A Plane Cologne will take place. What’s Pirates On A Plane? Since the beginning of the year a few representatives from the Cologne startup and hacker scene are travelling through Europe to represent Cologne as an important hub for investors, startups and developers. We’ve been to London and Barcelona so far and there are more trips planned this year. As we have a lot of international guests in Cologne during the Pirate Summit, we’ve decided to show them Cologne directly on site.

The Schedule

We’ve prepared a schedule for the whole day and a google map with all stops and additional tourist attractions here in Cologne if you want to visit them. Have a look here (or have a look at the end of this post).

Let’s dig in deeper into our schedule:

  • 9 AM- 11 AM Startup Breakfast @ Clusterhaus
  • 11 AM – 12:30 AM Meet Clusterhaus Startups
  • 12:45 AM – 2 PM tbd.
  • 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Meet Startplatz and their Startups
  • 5 PM – 6 PM Meet Solution Space and their Startups
  • 6:30 – Dinner & Beers @ Päffgen

Nice, isn’t it?

After the whole awesome day we will have some seats reserved at an original Cologne brewery – the “Päffgen Brauhaus“. We can hang out there as long we want to drink Kölsch (don’t be suprised by these tiny 0.2 l beer glasses).

Admission to this event is free (food and drink not included). However, places are limited and will be given away by invitation/application only (as a participant of the European Pirate Summit you will receive the access code directly).

Please fill in this form. We will contact you shortly:

Here is the map of all locations we will visit or additional you can visit:


View POAP Tour, Pirate Week and Tourist Stuff in a larger map