The event series Startup Grind Munich invites experienced founders to fireside chats: In an intimate setting, Munich’s startup legends chat about their experiences and their lives as entrepreneurs. One and a half years ago Sabine Flechet and her team revived the networking format in Munich. We spoke to the host.
For whom do you host Startup Grind Munich? What is your target audience?
Our audience is a community of entrepreneurs, founders, and builders who come together once a month to be educated and inspired by some of the brightest minds our local ecosystem has to offer. Overall, Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting more than 1,000,000 entrepreneurs in over 365 cities. We nurture startup ecosystems in 120 countries through events, media, and partnerships with organizations like Google for Entrepreneurs. Founded in Silicon Valley, our organization is quickly becoming known as the TED talks of the entrepreneur world.
Some of our community milestones:
- 2,500 volunteers
- 7,000 fireside chats in 2017
- 120,432 minutes of free education
- 30,754,351 total minutes watched
Our Munich chapter is no different: we aim to build a connected online and offline vibrant startup community to help fuel innovation, economic growth and prosperity at the local level. As such, we focus on bringing on stage local hidden champions to share his or her entrepreneurial endeavor and make him or her visible to the world.
Our community members count 1,300 founders and professionals in upcoming companies, a number which is steadily growing as we reach new users. Needless to say, this provides access to a great pool of talent for recruiting and investments, a platform to learn about innovative solutions and trends, as well as a meaningful channel to acquire future clients and suppliers.
“Driven by common values”
Who are the people behind the project? What drives you?
The chapter in Munich is supported by a truly passionate team looking to help founders, entrepreneurs and startups succeed. It comprises online marketing rockstars, folks with preliminary entrepreneurial experience, students looking to connect with the startup ecosystem, as well as investment professionals (VCs and business angels). We are driven by common values: empathy, friendship, reliability, and generosity.
During our events, we believe in making friends, not contacts: one of our key success factors is to provide match-making opportunities to our participants, i.e. none of our attendees should leave our event without a relevant connection, being a potential client, a co-worker, an interested investor or just a friend. We are there to help them find mentorship, connect to partners and hires, pursue funding, and reach new users.
We believe in giving, not taking: all our fireside chats and interview questions are run to provide a sneak peek to our audience into the journey of a successful entrepreneur, including key learnings and insights, but also covering best practices and fuck-ups. We seek to share the real behind-the-scene entrepreneurial endeavor, not just the headlines or the cover stories for the media outlets.
We believe in helping others before helping ourselves: we intend to make the startup journey less lonely, more connected and more memorable. Our Startup Grind Munich chapter is a nonprofit organization. Each member of the team is working pro-bono as a volunteer. The ticket sales only serve to cover the costs of running the events (venue & catering, AV set-up and marketing collaterals). Our reward is to see our audience leave our event with insightful content, relevant connections and a satisfied thankful smile (I guess from the open buffet and bar!).
Online archive of past fireside chats
What does a typical Startup Grind event look like?
The cornerstone of our global community are monthly events featuring a successful local founder, innovator, educator or investor who shares personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies. They exemplify profound leadership skills, hard-work, humility, and success and demonstrate their strength with devotion to the work they do every day. They encourage and inspire us all.
We spend an hour filming an informal, intimate fireside-chat-style interview with this awesome person of the month, then have a Q&A and a mixer, for which we offer yummy food & drinks.
Each event gets archived on www.startupgrind.com (and our YouTube’s Startup Grind Local channel) – some of the past interviews in Munich were with local legends like the founders of FlixBus, IDNow and Bits & Pretzels, MyMuesli, Internations, The Global Savings Group (or CupoNations), carpooling.com (exited to French Blablacar)… the list goes on. These interviews are a unique peek behind-the-scenes at the life, journey and endeavor of those who have gone through the adventure before and are incredibly engaging and inspiring events. They also provide great insights into the Munich’s startup and business angel scene, for anyone looking to get exposure.
How do your events differ from other networking events in Munich?
I believe each event in Munich has its own DNA. Ours is the intimate atmosphere and the personal story we help share between the speaker and his or her audience. We aim to make our community feel at home, as if they had invited our guest speaker into their living-room for an informal coffee chat. The fact that our guest speakers usually stay several hours after the fireside chat to answer questions from our audience 1-on-1 goes in that direction. This sharing atmosphere is amazing: I remember Felix Haas, Jochen Engert or Andreas Fruth staying way longer than expected, just because they had so much fun getting to share experiences with our attendees.
Startup Grind Munich exists for more than a year, you already welcomed ten speakers from the local startup scene. What were your highlights?
I can remember a few attendees coming all the way from Ingolstadt or Augsburg just to listen to our speakers and discuss entrepreneurship with Finn Age Haensel or Malte Zeeck.
Our Christmas party was the highlight of last year with returning participants. On average, our attendees participated in 3 to 4 events in 2017.
We also welcome food entrepreneurs on a regular basis to showcase their products: some have become recurring long-lasting partners, like Urban Soup, Heiland Liqueur, IsarBier or ‘Die Frischemanufaktur’. It’s always a great opportunity for attendees to mingle: by tasting the sample products, they can start talking to the person standing next to them; it’s a great way to engage a discussion!
To date, we have helped several entrepreneurs find mentorship and funding, we connected several corporate professionals to potential partners and new hires, and we reach new users with great lessons learned. We hope to continue inspiring many more in the future
A Startup Grind conference in Munich?
What are your learnings thus far? Where are you heading?
Startup Grind’s Munich Chapter re-launched one and a half year ago and is putting a heightened focus and an awareness on our everyday mission to educate, inspire, and connect — ultimately helping every entrepreneur in the world.
As such, we are looking to grow our community. We, along with many other local organizations and individuals, are working to help shape the Munich ecosystem and create a more inclusive society: we initiated discussions with our local peers to shed more light onto the city and region. I believe it is time to put Munich on the map and bring more local founders and success stories in the centerstage! To achieve this goal, we already increased our team with additional members and are looking for more!
Nevertheless, we will continue running our fireside chats in an intimate and informal setting, as this is the cornerstone of our format, and this is why people keep coming back 🙂
But why not in the future thinking of organizing a Startup Grind conference in Munich (in a similar way as the one in Silicon Valley, London or Barcelona)?
Anyone and everyone who believes in our mission to educate, inspire, and connect — ultimately helping every entrepreneur in the world — should come out to our events.
We want to do the type of work we are proud of. We want to produce work that helps others, even if it’s only in a small way. Stay tuned for more!