20 11 / 2013
07 11 / 2013
The THIRD Generation of German Founders
Recently we had a lot of discussions about the Startup ecosystem in Germany - and mainly the role of Berlin in it. However less discussions have emerged about the role of German founders and their impact on this ecosystem. During the year of 2013 I was watching the development of founders in Germany and some thoughts came to my mind in various discussions. When outsiders - and especially foreign investors look at German founders - I am missing some acknowledgement of the German ecosystem.
Underdeveloped history of founders in Germany
While the VC business is rather young - less than 30 years - the tradition of German Internet founders is even younger. There are only two generations of German Internet founders in our history.
25 9 / 2013
19 9 / 2013
18 9 / 2013
18 9 / 2013
17 9 / 2013
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10 9 / 2013
To the Pirates of Berlin
Three weeks ago Cologne was again the center of entreprenuers and investors at European Piratesummit. While working with the organizers in the weeks before I could feel again the spirit of pirates and their fight against stormy waves. What I could see there reminded me of some experiences from my early days in a startup 15 years back: the battle of staying above the waters of cashflow and profitability. Those of you who attended the Piratesummit experienced their success and relieve at the closing of the festival - those who did not attend: shame on you and apply for next year!
But while on the boat during my sailing trip this summer I was thinking about a strange group of people: the Pirates of Berlin. My thoughts were twofold:
Life of an entrepreneur is harder than in 2011/2012 -> Money is not easy to get and investors are more reluctant to bet on high quality. A lot of ideas have been tested on small levels and with reasonable funding by Angels, VCs and crowds. Therefore a lot of ideas got burned and marked as unattractive. Not saying they won’t work at all or with more funding. But none will try again ideas already tested at the moment and everyone will focus on brand new ideas instead. So these are the days for Pirates again! “Eating glass and fighting death all the time”. Try harder, life off from smaller budgets and be 10x better than second rank in your league. If you make it in 2013 - you are a true pirate and you will get the gold you are aiming for. This is true for all oceans, countries and cities - even for Berlin.
I predicted a tough year at beginning of 2013. A lot of readers daubted, a lot highlighted bad timing and a lot ignored the upcoming trend at all - most however misintreperted what I wrote: this wasn’t bashing on Berlin or Hipster mentality. It was about being aware of the downward curve of the hypecycle. As many know Gartner’s hypecycle Berlin is at the peak of it for the moment. After the downward curve it will reach a plateau in the future - exactly what a lot of people predicting today. As for all products and technologies there will be a period of a negative trend - the time when customers realize that there are issues with those products: this product can not do magic things my imagination convinced me to belive, no free lunch and no need to work anymore for the rest of our lifes. Berlin experinced what every startup company encounters in its life cycle: set backs, bad press and unsatisfied expectations. From my point of view Berlin failed only in one point: “Management of Expectations” - and it still does. To get back on track with the Startup “Berlin ecosystem” work hard and lay out a plan that will work to manage expectations of investors, press, community and politicians. If not, your fall will be deeper, harder amd louder. Why is it important for others that Berlin will manage expectations? Because otherwise it will harm the reputation of Germany as a startup country as a whole. While global hipster image might be funny - a bad reputation in circles of investors outside Germany is not funny at all.
So Pirates of Berlin -> get out of this storm by sailing the stormy winds and waves. Taste the salty sea again to get to treasures of this world you deserve for all your efforts and pain.
30 6 / 2013
A look into 2013 from a fundraising perspective
Today we reached the half of this year and I wanted to have a quick look back. As well I had a lot of discussions about fundraising until now with startups and fellow VCs. I put my thoughts into a presentation I gave over the course of last months at several occasions.
Recently Fred Wilson from USV stated he will never do a deal with a Corporate Venture Capitalist again in the future. I understand where he is coming from however I hope one day we can actually do a deal together. So Fred, whenever you see an opportunity for a syndicated deal with Deutsche Telekom’s VC firm - give me a call or drop a message. I am happy to answer it without any delay. We might be not as dark as you think we are.
24 6 / 2013
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