In Palo Alto, young entrepreneurs and experienced ones come together for “My Success. Our Visions.”
When it comes to start-ups and founding in Germany, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is: Europe probably has a long way to. The good news is: “The start-up scene in Germany is seeing a wonderful new generation.”
At least that is what Dirk Kanngiesser believes, CEO of the German Silicon Valley Accelerator (GSVA) and one of the opening speakers at “My Success. Our Visions.” in Palo Alto. The evening event is about both sides: entrepreneurs who have made it, talk about their challenges, and share best practices – and young founders who have come to the Silicon Valley for following their own path to success. Kanngießer and the team at GSVA invites those German Start-Ups to the Bay Area for three to sixth months, and help them “to get their feet on the ground” by bringing them together with potential customers, partners and investors.
“The start-up scene today in Germany breeds a very different kind of companies, much more diverse and probably a bit more hyped than 15 years ago”, said Kanngießer. He especially pointed to Berlin, which had earned “a beautiful reputation” for starting a business over the last years. Also, he hopes, exchange and cooperation is increasing between the two hotspots Berlin and Silicon Valley. A sure sign for that is the visit of German Federal Minister for Economics and Technology Philip Rösler in the middle of May, who will bring not the bosses of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp with him to the Valley, but 50 young entrepreneurs, who are only just starting.
Martin Sinner once started as a young founder, too – the longtime CEO of Idealo Internet GmbH was representing the “My Success” part of the event. Sinner managed to develop Idealo to one of the leading price comparison companies, despite a horrifying market situation in 2001 after the “New Market Crash”. Back then, “an ecosystem of founding almost didn’t exist in Germany”, Sinner said. “Also, no angel investors, no ecosystem of building web-portals.” So Idealo ran quickly out of money. Sinner had to take a day job, eventually managing his own company only after 7 p.m. But he didn’t give up. Hitting rock bottom eventually turned out to be the key to success. “We really had to look for ways to activate customers for low cost, and it was a great time for doing that.” After all, Google was coming up, and Sinner realized that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was a great source for the traffic he needed so badly – and for money. “And suddenly we got it”, Sinner remembered. From then on Idealo grew on average 40 percent a year, eventually being bought by Axel Springer in 2009.
Anna Kendeva, CTO of “Mobile Event Guide”, was speaking on behalf of the “Our Visions” part. Her mobile apps guide visitors through big events like conferences or trade-shows. “Imagine you can send your showcase or whitepaper to everyone who joins a particular session”, Kendeva explains the functionalities. “The organizers on the other hand can generate additional value through sponsorship and advertisement.” As the US is the biggest market for events, Mobile Event Guide hopes to set foot here too.
Bastian Nominacher, founder of Celonis, is also attracted by the attractive business opportunities he sees in the Silicon Valley. Celonis has developed a technology called process mining, which analyzes big data, visualizing business processes running on SAP-systems with a few mouse clicks. Siemens, one of the first customers, uses it to advance its internal compliance, by analyzing the streams of orders, payments and revenues. “Our technology can be applied in a variety of fields”, Nominacher said, “in hospitals, manufacturing, the IT service management space”. As his company is growing, he plans on recruiting a team on the U.S. west coast to “serve the biggest market for business analytics”.
“There’s such a good ecosystem around founding here”, Martin Sinner concluded. “If you go to Stanford, there are classes for every student about entrepreneurship.” And the German Silicon Valley Accelerator allows some of the best German startups to tap this unique ecosystem.
Guest article by Christoph Behrens