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Bits and Pretzels 2019: The Future is Female

The second day of Bits and Pretzels 2019 focuses once again on impact. A host of speakers also highlight the importance of female founders for the future viability of a company — an article by Regina Bruckschlögl, Helen Duran and Sandra Ohse

Day two got off to a promising start: In the first keynote speech of the day, Bavarian Minister of State for Digital, Judith Gerlach, spoke about the meaning of startups:

“Startups are key for some of the major challenges we are facing right now. […] Technology is the key driver for change.”

Like many speakers who followed, the Minister assigned particular importance to female founders. More women working in technical professions would not only solve the current shortage of skilled workers, but would also make a significant contribution to future development. To get women interested in professions in IT, Judith Gerlach initiated a specific program to do just that.

David Limp about the future of voice assistants

Amazon’s Senior Vice President, David Limp, spoke with Britta Weddeling about the future of voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. He announced that assistants will become increasingly competent in dealing with conversation and emotions in the next five to ten years. How they handle human frustration should also improve. That means voice assistants should be able to learn how to improve themselves in the future.

With the affordable devices that Amazon is selling close to their break-even point, as well as the voice assistant Alexa, the company is following a clear-cut strategy: The devices are meant to persuade customers to buy things and to make doing so as simple as possible. David Limp also spoke critically about data protection. He clearly stated that it is one of the biggest current challenges.

In addition to the challenges that affect entrepreneurs, passion was the focus of the talk that followed. Donna Carpenter, CEO and co-founder of Burton Snowboards, said:

“The power from entrepreneurs comes from passion and maintaining the passion. Passion needs a purpose, because passion without a purpose is an empty promise.”

The Golden Pretzel goes to Hawa Dawa

Then the pressure was on for the six startups that made it to the final round of the Bits & Pretzels startup competition. On day two, they once again had the opportunity to present their business idea in front of the jury as well as a large audience on center stage. The finalists were: Wirelane from Saarbrücken, Carl from Berlin, Zinergy from Cambridge, Realtainment from Berlin and Usercentrics and Hawa Dawa from Munich. A positive aspect was to see three women pitching. A more negative aspect, in contrast, was having a jury consisting solely of men. The race for the Golden Pretzel was ultimately won by Yvonne Rusche from Hawa Dawa.

The Munich-based startup Teleclinic also had something to be happy about. It received a 500,000 media budget from the ProsiebenSat.1 Accelerator. By the way: The Teleclinic CEO is Katharina Jünger. Not only is the future female, but also Bits & Pretzels 2019.

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