Barack Obama's legendary words "Yes We Can" inspired the world. This optimistic spirit also drives the creative people who met at the Bits & Pretzels Festival 2019 from 29 September to 1 October 2019 in the ICM - International Congress Center Munich.
The sold-out event at Messe München was held under the motto of "Impact" – exert influence, make a positive contribution. 5,000 founders, representatives of companies, initiatives and investors from 90 nations took part.
As young as the start-up festival Bits & Pretzels is, so impressive is the number of prominent personalities who have already appeared as speakers at this event by founders for founders. In 2019 the organizers made a scoop: Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, shared his experiences and thoughts on political and social issues with the Bits & Pretzels community at the opening ceremony. He spoke with Britta Weddeling, Editor in Chief at Bits & Pretzels, about his meeting with Greta Thunberg, about diversity as a motor for excellence, about the necessity of taxes and competition rules or about the opportunities of new technologies.
The success story of Bits & Pretzel started in 2014 with a classic Munich business breakfast: start-ups, entrepreneurs and investors met in the Löwenbräukeller for creative exchange and networking over veal sausage and sweet mustard, pretzels and beer. Meanwhile Bits & Pretzels has grown into Europe's leading festival by founders for founders and a three-day conference to boot. The event itself thus provides the best example of a successful start-up.
At the Bits & Pretzels Festival 2019, young start-ups and up-and-coming companies, investors and decision-makers were given a stage at the ICM - International Congress Center Munich to share knowledge, present exciting projects and successful start-ups and make the right contacts. Among the more than 100 top-class speakers from all over the world were, for example, the actress Jessica Alba and the Senegalese entrepreneur Fatoumata Ba, who supports start-ups in Africa with her tech platform Janngo.
Other program items included start-up pitches, workshops, panel discussions and speed dating sessions, which brought start-ups together with representatives of the many Munich institutions that support start-ups. In the Matchmaking Area a team of matchmakers helped to find the right contact person for a promising cooperation. During the after party on the Praterinsel, the networking continued on the first evening in the chilled atmosphere of a former distillery directly on the Isar.
The "Bits & Pretzels Start-up Night", which took place on 30 September 2019, impressively demonstrated why Munich in particular is the best place for a start-up festival. It focused on Munich's pulsating start-up scene, more than 50 start-ups and companies threw open the doors to their offices and workshops throughout the city and invited visitors to inspiring encounters.
With its excellent universities, which are highly active as incubator universities, many research institutions and flourishing companies, the Bavarian state capital offers an ideal breeding ground for successful start-ups. Munich is one of the leading locations in Germany and Europe in sectors such as IT, automotive, life sciences and medicine, cultural and creative industries, banking and insurance, and aerospace.
When it comes to the "informal" part of an event, Munich is THE place to be anyway. Especially in autumn, when the Munich residents consciously enjoy every ray of sunshine in the street cafés, on the banks of the Isar and in the beer gardens, and more and more "Trachtler" (performers in a traditional costume) add colour to the street scenes.
It is no coincidence but pure intention that Bits & Pretzels takes place every year during the Oktoberfest. So the third day of the festival was all about networking in the unique ambience of the "Wiesn", the dress code, of course, was dirndl and lederhosen. 300 tables were reserved exclusively for Bits & Pretzels in the Schottenhammel marquee, at each table an expert acted as "table captain" and moderated the table discussion, for which six different topics were to choose from. The participants had the opportunity to glean valuable first-hand tips and forge alliances for the future.
On the third day of the conference, the "Munich Start-up Award", donated by "Munich Start-up", a project of MGH - Münchner Gewerbehof- und Technologiezentrums GmbH, was also presented. Clemens Baumgärtner, the Head of Division for Work and Economy, presented the award, endowed with 5,000 euros, to the best Munich start-up. In his tribute he emphasized the positive impulses that innovative young entrepreneurs give to the Munich economy.
And here's the answer to the most burning of all questions: Did Obama go to the Oktoberfest? Unfortunately not, he had to decline for reasons of security. But at least he tried on a pair of lederhosen in his hotel room and found that they looked quite good on him.