A little under a year ago, before the Rude Baguette had sprung from its cocoon, I attended one of my first startup events in Europe. I, like most startupers, had read Michael Arrington’s infamous “Are you a Pirate?” article, where he likens entrepreneurs to pirates for their lack of risk aversity, as well as their desire to search for gold, not for the value of the gold, but for the challenge of doing so itself. With that article in mind, the European Pirate Summit was born: hosted in Cologne, Germany, the conference was dedicated to casting away European startup stereotypes, and bringing together some European pirates – the application process for attendees required proving your worthiness as a pirate. The event got much less press than its brother event, the ADVANCE Conference, which took place the same weekend – perhaps because they had an indoor venue. You see, EPS11 took place in a junkyard that normally hosts raves, and is conveniently located across the street from Germany’s most infamous brothel, Pascha. You can read a re-cap of the whole event here, but needless to say it was legendary.
So you can imagine how happy I was to hear about EPS12 being announced – The Rude Baguette jumped on board as a Media Sponsor right away. This year’s event is going to blow last year’s out of the water. They’ve already got Wrapp’s CTO lined up to speak – though Wrapp hasn’t even launched in France yet, they’ve already been featured in TechCrunch France, due to the Wrapp-clone “DropGift” which came out of the Samwer’s clone factory. They’ve also recently been publicly working on getting 500 Startups’ Dave McClure to attend – they went all the way to Atherton to his Blackbox accelerator program just to send their pirate invitation in a message in a bottle.
What really matters in a Startup Competition – it’s reputation
I’ve seen plenty of startup competitions – the prizes are usually loaded (free services, potential investment opportunities, etc.) and really aren’t the point of the competition. It’s a great way to get feedback, and if the reputation of the startup competition is good enough (TechCrunch50, SXSW, LeWeb, TNW conference, etc.) then it’s a great opportunity for any startup. I kept close with the startups I met at EPS11 – I watched GetGauss launch private beta, and then public beta in SXSW last month, as well as going to the London Web Summit. The startup that were selected last year went on to do something, and everytime they had an announcement to make, they shared it with the EPS11 facebook group (yeah – we have a private facebook group), and everyone passed iton. This is why YOU should definitely sign up for the Startup Competition this year. I will personally be at the event this year, and if I bug them enough they may even let me moderatea talk, and I will be looking to see Europes best stARRRRRtups.
What makes an event a must-attend is the same thing that makes a band worth seeing over and over again – the experience. The Pirate Summity is honest about where Europe is at, they are critical of it’s flaws, and they are adament about it’s improvement. There is a passion in the air during the conference that is reminiscent of the Silicon Valley – people are proud of their startups, VCs are selling themselves to you, and journalist have enough material for a month.