Learning From Your Errors: FailCon Comes to Berlin

By Conor Rushby |

Built with 1960s brutality, the Jerusalemkirche (Jerusalem’s Church) on Lindenstraße isn’t the most shining example of ecclesiastical architecture. But this stark pice of concrete design should help Berlin startups be completely frank with each other when they gather here in November for the city’s first FailCon.

The event has spread globally since its launch in the US in 2009, and sees individuals sharing their experiences of failure and learning from each other’s mistakes.

It’s a conference with a difference, as organiser David Nagy explained. “FailCon is not about people saying we did that and came good. It’s about saying we did that and failed: learn from me.” Startups can meet seasoned entrepreneurs who know all about things going wrong, and how to avoid calamity when building a business.

There have been FailCon events in Brazil and Australia, and one is planned in Singapore. So far in Europe only France has hosted one and David, originally from Romania, thinks the German capital is ideal. “Berlin is a more exciting and a more helpful environment than a lot of places, but in Germany people are not used to sharing bad stuff when it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I hope to make FailCon like a campfire, so people can share intimate stuff.”

Organised here by NGO Entrepreneur’s Club, also behind Startup Camp Berlin, the format will see attendees split into different panels or ‘campfires’ to discuss topics like financing, with each group chaired by an expert. The experts involved include, among others, Dr. Alex von Frankenberg, managing director of High-Tech Gründerfond, and Gunnar Berning of twago, a tool that allows companies to find  business services.

David – who helped organise TWiST Berlin – says his enthusiasm for FailCon comes from personal trials and tribulations. His own venture,  a social business site aimed at encouraging disadvantaged people to travel, was blown off course after the threat of legal action by an American company with a similar name. Then he couldn’t find a good team to take the idea forward. Since moving to Berlin from Romania, he’s met with more success, with the company being rebranded as golibre.

The venue has capacity for 300 and early bird tickets are selling at €88. Nagy also has a “super awesome” surprise for attendees, but when he spoke to Silicon Allee he was determined not to fail at keeping it a secret.

The exterior of the Jerusalemkirche