Unrehearsed startup pitching in sunny parking lots, endless miles of Polish highways, exhausting checks by the Polish border police, presenting pitch decks on stage that did not exist 24 hours before, networking over roasted pork and gallons of coffee to stay awake – EIT Digitals startup bus turned out to be a true challenge for all travellers. 25 founders, pitch coaches, bloggers, startup experts and members of EIT Digital Berlin started a special journey on June 10. Their destination: Infoshare, Polands biggest startup conference in 2015 with more than 3,500 attendees, investors and editors. To link the thriving German and Polish startup communities, the team of EIT Digital ARISE Europe joined this special event.
Day 1 – On the road!
After weeks of preparation, EIT Digitals special road trip started right on time at noon in Berlin. The first challenge for the four attending startup teams from Berlin was to deliver pitch to our pitch coaches, startup experts from BITKOM and bloggers. While the sun was shining, our startup pitch coaches Bianca Praetorius and Christoph Sollich remained tough. Each team had 90 seconds sharp to tell their story while the coaches took notes on how to improve the messages and performance of each team. After this first initial shock, all startups hopped on the bus. But they had hardly time to breath. Team after team received individual feedback on their pitch deck and the way they presented it on stage. Six hours later the bus reached Poznan, the second stop of the road trip. In the small city in the middle of Poland, three more startups waited for their pick-up and their session to pitch. While the German teams kept working on their pitches, the two startup coaches Bianca and Christoph took care of the Polish teams, providing them with expert advice. Miles and miles flew by. Coffee, Wifi and connectors became hot commodities while the teams worked hard, the sun set and darkness approached. Finally, at 11pm, the teams had to pass their last test for the day: Out of the seven teams, the best startups got the special chance to pitch on stage at Infoshare. While the bus covered the last miles, all teams battled again. Three teams stuck out and won the precious stage time: Trackfellas, Gambify and Colorimetrix from Germany.
Day 2 – At Infohare!
After a short night, step by step the teams arrived at Infoshare. For the first time the organizers combined tech conference and startup festival and exhibition. More than 50 tech startups joined the event. The EIT Digital teams got the prominent spaces right next to the startup-stage to showcase their innovations. While investors, fellow startups and bloggers stopped by now and then, the founders of Trackfellas, Gambify and Colorimetrix finalized their pitch decks and prepared for their presentations on stage at lunchtime. Three fabulous pitches later the pressure was off and the teams started to enjoy the exhibition till it closed around 6pm. After a short break, it was party time. At the startup networking party at Gdansk' new soccer arena, that can host more than 40,000 guests, all party people gathered to eat Polish food and decompress with local beer and great company.
Day 3 – On the road...again!
The last day of Infoshare started slow. The halls filled up late but steadily. On Friday another highlight awaited the attending startups: The final pitch on the main stage and the big win of 20,000 Euro for the most promising startup. While Trackfellas, Gambify and Colorimetrix did not qualify for the final, another EIT Digital supported startup had saved a spot in the competition already: qDatum from Berlin. They pitched on stage, but unfortunately they did not win, although the support from all members of the startup bus had been huge. After the startup pitches, one of the many highlights of Infoshare ended, the teams gathered their material and off we went again. 12 hours of bus tour lay ahead of the brave travellers. After a quick stop in Poznan and while the sun was setting over beautiful Poland, the driver covered ground. Finally after hours of road trip we reached Berlin again – 2am on Saturday morning…
Remark from the EIT Digital team: The EIT Digital road trip truly proves - startups might play hard, but they work as hard, as you can also read on Inventures!
Please note: the video that captured the trip will soon be posted on this site. Stay tuned!