This year's IdeaLab! WHU Founders' Conference invited numerous students, young founders, and entrepreneurs to WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar on October 5 and 6. Organized independently by WHU students, the conference also offered an engaging program of inspirational speakers, workshops and speed dating sessions with attractive employers and investors such as Amazon, Axel Springer, and Deutsche Börse.
As one of WHU's best-known graduates, Oliver Samwer, founder of Rocket Internet, opened the conference with an interactive role-playing game similar to an elevator pitch. Three young participants from the audience, the startup founders, were to convince three other participants who took on the role of investors of their business idea. The investors, in turn, should first win their partners for themselves and then decide on the most convincing founder. With this exercise, Samwer gave his audience three tips from practice on the way: "Be curious, passionate about your idea and know your unique selling point as well as your numbers."
Another speaker, Frank Thelen, co-founder and CEO of Freigeist Capital, also spoke in front of a well-attended WHU lecture hall. Thelen, also known as an investor in the German version of the television series "Shark Tank" ["Die Höhle der Löwen"], showed with his journey through his professional past that failure was part of founding and fighting spirit paid off. Although "Europe is not an innovative nation," as Thelen said, he encouraged the participants to become founders themselves. Thelen emphasized that, once digitization is an advanced part of our everyday lives, the future lies in quantum computing and competencies such as programming and coding are a necessary feature of a successful career.
Other valuable piece of advice gave Adora Cheung, Partner at Y Combinator, who revealed that the qualities of good teams were diversity because it improves performance. Elvir Omerbegovic, CEO of the hip-hop label Selfmade Records and appointed President of Rap, delighted his audience with his disciplined lifestyle, but at the same time warned against too much blind ambition: "Find joy in what you do, and you will become successful. But do not get lost in your work." In addition to these inspiring speeches, the attendees received inspiring insights into future technologies that influence the market and its consumers in panel discussions on the topics of the "Future of Mobility," "Digitalization and Diversity" and "The Future of Communication."
For the first time concerning the IdeaLab! Conference, the Hacker Games! were held. The hackathon organized by the recently founded student initiative Business Meets Tech - WHU's Tech Initiative is supposed to bring together tech-savvy students and software developers. After a 24-hour programming marathon, the winning team was selected by a jury of top industry investors on IdeaLab!’s main stage.