© Sinisa Kanizaj / ABC Venture Gates
Munich, Trends, Transport and logistics
10 Feb 2017

The Start Up & Meetings Market is Fully Caffeinated in Munich

Janine David-Steinhart at the Munich Convention Bureau chatted with Luka Planinc the Managing Director at ABC Venture Gates about the start up scene in Munich and what its like to meet and share knowledge there.


What is ABC Venture Gates and why did you decide to open an office in Munich?

ABC Venture Gates is a subsidiary of Acceleration Business City, a startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley that helps startups and SMEs from around the world grow, expand, improve their businesses and achieve success.

We opened our doors in Munich eight months ago to help growing startups expand into the German market. We chose Munich because when it comes down to focusing on business growth, we believe that Munich is the business center of Europe. It is the German home for many global brands such as Microsoft, Intel and Google, as well as, the International headquarters for many German powerhouse brands like BMW, Linde, Siemens and Allianz. The Bavarian capital also has the largest private equity and venture capital transactions in Germany and an incredibly strong B2B and B2C market.

Munich’s access to top talented people from outstanding universities, great events and an amazing and fast growing community helps fuel Europe’s highest survival rate for startups and SMEs. It is the ideal location for us and has a huge potential for so many more, especially international startups.

What do You Think of Munich as a City for People to Meet and Share Knowledge?

Munich is a fantastic place to meet outstanding people with unique mindsets and is fortunate to have so many smart minds here. Professors at the local universities and successful business leaders come together and meet face to face to learn and share knowledge. This has been a huge advantage for startups coming to Munich to be able to network with these experts. The startup ecosystem here is fast growing and extremely supportive. There are meetups on fantastic topics several times a week. We also host a monthly panel discussion and invite expert guest speakers to share their wisdom and experiences with the community.

And of course, there are important conferences around Munich as well, i.e. Bits & Pretzels, DLD, there was Capital on Stage. I shouldn’t forget about the Oktoberfest, which is a fantastic networking event for participants from all industries.

In addition, even though I don’t speak much German as I am from Slovenia I haven’t met a single businessperson who doesn’t speak English. It’s very much an international city.

Can you share your experience with participating in the Bits & Pretzels conference in Munich in 2016 that caters to start ups and has grown quickly since it was started 3 years ago? 

It was amazing to see all the later stage startups interact with corporates and investors on the same level at a 3-day networking event for startups here in Munich. We have met some amazing startups and people that work for companies like Amazon and Microsoft.

Just days after opening our office, we hosted the after party. We had the most visited after party with lots of the speakers. It also brought us a lot of attention from investors and journalists. This conference shows the power of Munich’s business and startup ecosystem and brings it all together in one place. One of the reasons why it is so successful is because there is so much potential in terms of the startup world around Munich and Bavaria but there was no substantial startup conference. Bits & Pretzels filled that void. 

Why did ABC Venture Gates decide participate in the sharing economy by renting out its own space?

Almost immediately after we moved into our office,  we started getting requests about whether we would rent out our space. It has kind of a Silicon Valley feel and there isn’t anything like it here in Munich. We realized the market demand and said let’s give them what they want. We’re excited that established companies are coming here to hold events and are able to get into a different mindset. (The 9,000 square foot facility is a 5 minutes walk from the Messe Munich. The space accommodates up to 300 people and includes a roof terrace over looking the rooftops of Munich).

I understand you have tried to start a Congress yourself to bring together the automotive and start up industry here in Munich tell us a bit about that?

Bavaria is a powerhouse in the automotive industry. However, it will need to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 100 years to stay competitive in global markets. Automotive companies need new inventions, new technologies to keep reinventing and evolving themselves. Startups in comparison to internal R&D departments are more lean and efficient so it’s cheaper, faster and more efficient to develop some new technologies.

Established companies on the flip side have the capital, the track record with creating consumer products and the manufacturing power. The idea for this conference came from merging these two worlds together so they could learn and help each other. When I got here I was totally surprised that nothing like this exists yet.  The industry is so strong, and there is demand for it, yet in Munich no platform like this exists that will get innovative startups from all over the world together with the big guys like BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), VW Group with Audi, Porsche, Tesla.

The congress that we want to start will connect automakers with the startups that are working on the latest technologies here in Munich.  This will create a bridge to share information and ideas in both directions. When we suggested the meeting in March everyone thought we meant 2018. That’s like a decade from now. Here in Munich we are fully caffeinated--we are working on speeding things along because innovations will not slow down either. 

Luka Planinc, Managing Director at ABC Venture Gates / © ABC Venture Gates
Luka Planinc, Managing Director at ABC Venture Gates / © ABC Venture Gates


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