Bloody Marys and Picnics: TOA’s Satellite Events

By Claire Adamson |

From hangover breakfasts to photowalks in the U-Bahn, the second day of TOABerlin was pretty unique for a tech conference – there was no centralised venue; rather, attendees were given a choice of 23 different satellite events. There was something going on in pretty much every corner of the city, culminating in the Silicon Allee Summer Party.

But after TOA (alongside Campus Party Europe) came in for some criticism from Berlin Startup Academy founder Christoph Räthke, specifically for the first day, was the second part any better? Silicon Allee spent the day rushing around between four of the satellite events.

The day began at Ahoy! Berlin where Kinderfee was hosting the first Social Entrepreneurship ‘Changeathon’. The event allowed people to present the social problems they saw in the world, team up and spend the day trying to come up with possible business ideas to address these issues.

It started with an interesting panel discussion about the pros and cons of founding a company versus founding a non-profit organization, and featured the founders and heads of several socially responsible companies, like Markus Schranner of and Martin Elwert of Coffee Circle. They talked about how both kinds of organization are able to instigate change and that businesses are able to have a social impact whilst at the same time making money. The panel also discussed finding the right kind of investor for a social project and creating a business model that they can understand.

The social problems pitched covered everything from homelessness to food wastage to social support for the elderly. The winning idea focused on finding a cheaper way to send money to developing countries by offering the service through supermarkets at a fraction of the price of platforms like Western Union.

There was also a Silicon Allee presence at the KATERfrühstück held by Media Entrepreneurs, which is part of Axel Springer. The event was held at the Journalist Club, a swanky and exclusive venue on the 19th (and top) floor of the media giant’s HQ in Kreuzberg. The name KATERfrühstück means ‘hangover breakfast’ – and they knew exactly what they were doing, with Bloody Marys and currywurst all round.

In addition, there was also a chance for startups to pitch to senior Axel Springer in an extremely unusual way. Rather than the elevator pitch, there was a paternoster pitch using the building’s old-fashioned lift. Entrepreneurs had the four minutes it took to travel to the bottom to get their ideas across.

Breakfast of champions

Afterwards, it was time to move on to Mitte for lunch at the BDMI Pitch and Pizza event. Held in the lobby of BDMI’s fancy office, the event was laid back and fun, with entrepreneurs literally lining up to pitch their startups to the crowd.

Amongst the companies pitching was EPIC, whose community platform Epiclist allows users to break down their dreams and ambitions into bite sized tasks, and Turn Your Time, a map-based person-to-person marketplace.

The third event of the day was the Rails Girls Tech Picnic, which due to some unfortunate weather was moved from its original Mauer Park location to Betahaus. Henrietta Keläläinen of Rails Girls took us offline for the afternoon, banning laptops from the picnic and instead introducing coding using flashcards and paper charts. The aim of the event was sharing information and inspiration, both of which were provided in spades.

By turning over the organization of the second day to the startup community, the TOABerlin team lost some control of the format and content of the events. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the general quality was pretty high, but it did seem like more of the same kind of workshops, pitch competitions and meet ups that happen in Berlin every week.

The night (and week!) ended at the Silicon Allee Summer Party, and this week will provide Berlin with a brief respite before we get started on September’s bumper crop of events and conferences.

BDMI Pitch and Pizza