The two themes of failure and defeat characterized the opening speeches at the 2017 Bits & Pretzels. Special guest Stefan Raab and the startup festival’s hosts opened up about the detours they have had to take.
At the beginning of the prestigious Munich event, two of the three hosts of the startup conference, Andreas Bruckschlögl and Bernd Storm, talked about their past experience in running a company into the ground. Despite all of the success that has followed, Bernd Storm said in hindsight on Sunday morning that:
“It was the first defeat in my life, and it sucked.”
— Munich Startup (@munich_startup) September 24, 2017
The three hosts agreed that defeat should not mean the end of an entrepreneurial career, but is instead part of the bumpy road to the top. This made the mantra presented by the third host Felix Haas all the more fitting:
As in previous years, the Bavarian minister of Economic Affairs Ilse Aigner also took the stage. She praised the powerful innovation of startup companies, Bavaria as a location and the founders festival itself:
“Bits & Pretzels is a genuine forum for the future that we can be proud of.”
Bits & Pretzels gets Raab back on stage
The comedian from Cologne then took over: Stefan Raab was as high-spirited during his comeback as ever before. He made fun of the typical startup talk (“Most people tell me how awesome they are.”), shared some anecdotes about his own failure (the bank turned him down for an 80,000 Deutschmark loan for music production equipment) and that he was actually the person who invented crowdfunding on the side (Raab wanted each of his friends to loan him 5,000 mark, but that failed as well.)
The self-proclaimed König Lustig (King of Funny) interlaced his stories with old jingles he had composed at the beginning of his career for local stores, companies and sausage spread.
Raab then successfully tied in the topic of entrepreneurship and shared some words of wisdom with the crowd: Long-term success is 99% hard work, which is why you have to be persistent more than anything else; in contrast, experience is overrated because:
“What’s ahead of us is something no one has experience with.”
Raab also added tongue-in-cheek that the real world is exactly the opposite of how the three-day Bits & Pretzels conference functions: at the Munich startup festival, everyone works two-thirds of the time (Sunday and Monday) and gets drunk during the remaining third (Tuesday in the Schottenhamel Tent), but it’s the other way around in real life.
The legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn also made an appearance on Sunday: Kahn presented his startup Goalplay and called for companies to have “operational balls;” Philipp Lahm is set to follow tomorrow with his investment project Fanmiles.
Kevin Spacey becomes the fourth Bits & Pretzels partner
Last year, Kevin Spacey performed the role played by Raab this year and inaugurated Bits & Pretzels with his speech. The Hollywood star returned to the founders festival this year, but in a new role: Spacey led a round table with Rolf Schrömgens and Lukasz Gadowski, the founders of Trivago and Delivery Hero. Just before it was time to call it a night, the most surprising news of the day was shared: Kevin Spacey is getting on board as the fourth Bits & Pretzels host! Which Bits & Pretzels tasks he will take on specifically has not been revealed yet.
+++ Update 2 November 2017 +++
The Bits & Pretzels team suspends the partnership with Kevin Spacey as they announced on Facebook: