We have something special for you this time!
Three fantastic Bits & Pretzels’ Original Hosts, Andreas Bruckschlögl, Dr. Bernd Storm vans Gravesande, and Felix Haas – or, simpler, Andi, Bernd, and Felix – interviewed by Przem Wierzbicki! Our entire team is proud and happy to present you with their answers to some of the most important questions regarding the upcoming festival, the road to it, the opportunities, the obstacles, and… the Oktoberfest! Yes!
Let’s proceed, then! To the interview!
The Founders Festival’s Founders: Interviewed!
Przem Wierzbicki (StartingThingsUp.com): Hello there, fine Bits & Pretzels! We here at StartingThingsUp.com are happy to be having this interview with you!
Andi, Felix, Bernd (Bits & Pretzels): Servus! We are Bernd, Felix, and Andi – the Hosts of Bits & Pretzels! We are organizing a three-day founders festival in Munich – with the crazy idea of putting all the attendees in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest on the last day!
STU: Ah! The Schottenhamel! Right! But! First things first! Tell us, please: what were the festival’s beginnings? Who came up with the idea? What’s that it’s all about, REALLY, Bits & Pretzels?
Bernd: At first, Andi and I originated the founders breakfast. We thought that Munich had – in comparison to Berlin – no real startup scene (although there are many startups here.) We wanted to make all these great young companies visible, to create a platform where founders, investors, and journalists can come together. At our first event we could barely drum up 50 founders to participate in our breakfast. But at our fourth event we already welcomed more than 250 attendees! When in January 2015 Felix joined our host team, we knew we are on the right way. We wanted to create something of an even greater format. This was the birth of Bits & Pretzels: at our last event, more than 3,500 attendees enjoyed the networking possibilities and the last day at the Oktoberfest!
STU: That’s right! The previous edition was an absolute success! (As well as the one before it…)
Felix: We wanted to create the hottest founders conference in the world. But we never thought that by 2016, more than 5,000 attendees would participate in our three-day event. This was a big surprise for us, too. Also, it is nice to know we’re headed in the right direction.
STU: It is. Given Bits & Pretzels target audience, such a big success can seem surprising indeed. After all, the festival is targeted at a specific group of people, one that isn’t the largest out there. Tell us: who are your attendees? Is Bits & Pretzels for startup people only?
Bernd: Bits & Pretzels is the ultimate conference for founders. All the lectures and networking possibilities are specially geared to meet the needs of the attendees. That’s why we conceived The Startup Academy. Eleven successful founders and experts (among them: Lukasz Gadowski, Max Wittrock, and Renaud Visage) will share their knowledge about topics like business formations, distribution, and internalization. Briefly worded: all the founders who want to learn something new and who are searching for investors, employees, or cooperation partners should come to Bits & Pretzels!
STU: The previous edition was an absolute success, but it’s the upcoming one that’s about to bring the startup conferences to an ENTIRELY new level, right? With all these hot startup names, the infrastructure, the proven formula…
Felix: As we already mentioned, we want to stage the hottest founders conference in the world. To make sure this happens, you should never stop improving things. Each of us had a list of things we wanted to improve this year. We‘ve also asked our attendees what we could possibly make better. So this year’s Bits & Pretzels is going to be awesome! We have a lot of innovations: among the others, we provide an even greater networking experience with our net platform, where the attendees can make appointments in the forefront. Also, we have a pitch stage, where many startups will compete with each other and will be able to win an amazing prize. And, of course, we’re expecting some top speakers, like Virgin’s founder Richard Branson or airbnb’s founder Nathan Blecharczyk. For us, the most important thing is that we try everything to make Bits & Pretzels better and bring it to a new level.
STU: What’s there to gain from attending the upcoming Bits & Pretzels? What’s there to gain for an entrepreneur, an investor? And what about the simple startup aficionados? Is there something for them, there, too?
Andi: We are expecting hundreds of investors from the ecosystem: business angels and institutional investors are looking for good investment possibilities. Last year the interchange between the investor community was an important aspect. For this year, we have planned many improvements regarding the networking. So, investors will be clearly marked with a badge, for example. In our short success’ story many startups found an investor, many journalist have discovered exciting establishments, and many speakers have shared their visions with curious people. Bits & Pretzels is really helpful for the whole startup ecosystem. It connects the startup people.
STU: Speaking of possibilities, the thematic “Clusters” are a great concept – one that is sure to better the festival’s networking experience. What’s the idea behind them?
Bernd: Yes, this year we‘ve captured six important trends of digitization, and we separated Bits & Pretzels into the following six Clusters: Future Commerce, Fast Mobility, Hot Lifestyle, Sophisticated IoT, Big Money, and Smart Company. By doing this, we ensure that founders, investors, journalists, and corporate representatives of the particular sector learn as much as possible and get the best networking. For each cluster, there will be an exhibition, courses of lectures with workshops, and a startup pitch. Even at the Oktoberfest part, the clusters will be there to help.
STU: It’s said that Bits & Pretzels mix the traditional and the innovative. What’s “the traditional” about it? What’s “the innovative?”
Andi: Tradition: traditional Bavarian outfits on stage, Lederhosen, Oktoberfest, beer, live music at the venue. Innovative: technological trends are being presented, latest innovations will be shown on stage, as a part of the exhibition, on the pitch stage. From Robotics and eCommerce, IoTs, and Mobility… People will feel the future at Bits & Pretzels.
STU: Bits & Pretzels takes place during the Oktoberfest. Anything you’d recommend?
Felix: As a Munich’s native, I can only recommend: give everything a try, go to the Oktoberfest in the morning and know the Dirndl rules! The Schottenhamel tent is the classic among the beer tents, but the Schützenfestzelt is very nice, too! I totally recommend taking the chance to meet all the amazing people united in one tent! It’s an absolute familiar atmosphere and the perfect place for networking!
STU: Oh! And one more thing! Kevin Spacey! He’ll be there!
Bernd: Yes! He will! But before we could even contact him, we were searching for a couple of weeks to get a contact to one of his managers. After a long time of searching, we‘ve finally found a former employee of his. When he gave us the current contact number to his agent, we had to convince the Spacey’s team to our event first. This wasn’t easy, because Kevin has a lot of requests and is very picky. Yet finally, our approach “from founders to founders” convinced him to participate in Bits & Pretzels and share his knowledge with the audience!
Andi, Felix, Bernd! Thank you for such a great interview! As always, we keep our fingers crossed for you fine hosts – and for the success of your festival! We hope to hear some more from you, and soon!
The Additional Info
The biggest European startup conference of 2016 is to be held in Munich’s International Congress Center this Oktoberfest. Branded “The Founders Festival” – a suitable label indeed – this September’s Bits & Pretzels promises to connect its 5,000+ Participants with over 300 Speakers and Table Captains, alongside more than 400 Business Journalists. This would mean that the upcoming edition will be almost two times larger than the previous one (which, with its 3,600 attendees, was quite a big one itself.)
The festival’s full agenda can be found here.
Bits & Pretzels is 25-27 September 2016, Munich’s International Congress Center.
Image Credits: Bits & Pretzels