BeyondConventions 2019: five expert tips for your start-up success

Corporate culture | Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | innovation | trends of technology | Worth knowing | On February 12th and 13th, 2019, forty aspiring start-ups and seven major companies met at the thyssenkrupp Headquarters in Essen for the second BeyondConventions start-up summit. Amongst them were three established digital evangelists, who shared their vision on successful collaboration and entrepreneurship. We listened closely and summed up their insights and most important tips to successfully start up your own business.

New digital technologies are bringing our world closer together every day. This not only changes our private lives, but also the way we work in companies – especially large corporations such as thyssenkrupp. In times of cloud working, augmented reality and chatbots, we need to think in completely new ways to make complex processes, products and services fit for the digital future. The good news: digital change also brings along new opportunities for large companies to make their business more efficient and successful. All it takes? Creative ideas, a fresh mind and the courage to change!

How do large corporations and digital start-ups fit together? Quite well – if both sides are open for collaboration. At the BeyondConventions digital event, which took place for the second time this year at thyssenkrupp in Essen, that's exactly what counts – real cooperation.
How do large corporations and digital start-ups fit together? Quite well – if both sides are open for collaboration. At the BeyondConventions digital event, which took place for the second time this year at thyssenkrupp in Essen, that's exactly what counts – real cooperation.

BeyondConventions: Start-ups and companies work hand in hand

In February 2019, seven large companies from the Ruhr region showed this courage for the second time – at the start-up event BeyondConventions. The host: thyssenkrupp. The idea: to give young start-ups the opportunity to develop innovative ideas for the digital challenges large companies are facing today – and set the grounds for future collaborations. The result: 200 start-ups from 25 countries applied to impress the big players and snap up a long-term cooperation. A unique approach that brings talented start-ups and established companies together – all under one credo: learn from each other, grow together.

Collaboration as a door opener in digital transformation

Peter Vinnemeier, co-founder of the successful travel portal trivago, summed up the need for collaboration during his keynote speech: “Today, technology is so complex that collaboration between experts from all areas is simply a must.” Deloitte partner Andrew Goldstein and Google’s head of innovation Frederik G. Pferdt also gave valuable insights for both start-ups and companies. We have summarized the five most important tips for you.

On the stage of BeyondConventions, Google's innovation guru Frederik G. Pferdt asked the participants to write their personal vision of the future on colorful pices of paper – only to ask them to crumple them up and throw them into the hall afterwards. After all, the future cannot be foreseen alone, but only when different points of view and expertise come together.
On the stage of BeyondConventions, Google's innovation guru Frederik G. Pferdt asked the participants to write their personal vision of the future on colorful pices of paper – only to ask them to crumple them up and throw them into the hall afterwards. After all, the future cannot be foreseen alone, but only when different points of view and expertise come together.

Tip 1: Love what you do!

To advance a project from an initial idea to the ultimate success is a long journey with many obstacles. After all, not only does a business plan have to be watertight and logical – your concept has to convince investors, potential employees and customers! Those who only stand behind their own service or product half-heartedly have practically no chance in the market of good ideas. At BeyondConventions, Andrew Goldstein puts it this way: “You have to be passionate about your business idea – because passion is one of the few things you can’t fake.”

Tip 2: Trust your idea – and not your scepticism!

Brainstorming sessions are an integral part of creative processes for both start-ups and companies. Throwing raw proposals into the room together, arranging them and finally turning them into a gold idea is a great approach. And yet it is often doomed to failure because skepticism is the obstacle to creative calculation. For Frederik G. Pferdt, many great ideas are rejected prematurely. His approach: You should no longer water down suggestions from colleagues with a negative “Yes, but…”, but develop the idea with a positive “Yes, and…” together in a team! For the Chief Innovation Evangelist from Google, this is not just theoretical. At the tech giant, every colleague in his team who tries something “different” and presents a fresh idea receives a bonus – regardless of whether the idea works afterwards or not. So even two small words can turn skepticism into optimism.

Whether start-up or corporate group: To be successful, you need passion, the courage to fail, the ambition to really pull your own thing through, a clear strategy and resilient structures, according to Andrew Goldstein's tip at BeyondConventions.
Whether start-up or corporate group: To be successful, you need passion, the courage to fail, the ambition to really pull your own thing through, a clear strategy and resilient structures, according to Andrew Goldstein's tip at BeyondConventions.

Tip 3: More courage to take risks!

In all honesty, everyone dreams that one day their own vision will take the world by storm. But especially at the beginning of your career, every decision, no matter how small, will seem like a huge risk to you. What if no one likes the idea? How are we supposed to finance that? And shouldn’t we first take the smaller step? Frederik G. Pferdt prefers to answer these questions by fleeing forward. “Have the courage to fail once in a while”. There is a reason BeyondConventions once again stands by the otto “Fail cheap and fail fast”. Note: It’s not about who fails the most, but who is ready to tackle something new. By the way, this also applies to ideas that don’t come from you. Because the views of others often open the eyes for hidden business potential.

Tip 4: Allow everyone in your team to present ideas without fear!

“What’s the difference between a productive team and one that’s rather unproductive?” Frederik G. Pferdt asked this question on stage at BeyondConventions. His experience at Google has shown that it’s the team that enjoys “psychological security”. The concept describes the common claim that you and your team mates always have the security to contribute their ideas – without fear of reprisals or rejection. Team members feel demonstrably more accepted. And they are particularly motivated to go the extra mile. Especially as a team leader you should make sure that every colleague respects and appreciates the others.

Peter Vinnemeier also had valuable tips for the BeyondConventions participants. For example, that success depends on the team, its passion and its vision – and not on personal background or experience.
Peter Vinnemeier also had valuable tips for the BeyondConventions participants. For example, that success depends on the team, its passion and its vision – and not on personal background or experience.

Tip 5: Achieve more faster through collaboration!

The leitmotif at BeyondConventions remains as collaboration. As innovation expert Pferdt underlined again this year: “We have to inspire each other. We cannot make the future a better on our own, but only together.” After all, corporations often have no choice but to keep an eye on the big picture. In comparison, small, agile start-ups can concentrate fully on technical details and creative ideas. When both sides come together, great things can happen.

A perfect example of this is the start-up “Orbica” – one of the winners at the premiere of BeyondConventions in 2018: “We were able to divide big problems into small, tiny pieces and work on them separately,” said design engineer Benjamin Berndzen of thyssenkrupp, who now works closely with “Orbica” thanks to BeyondConventions, looking back on last year’s successful projects.

Some of the winners of the first edition of BeyondConventions, including two representatives of the start-up Orbica (both on the right), which drew attention with drone analyses of thyssenkrupp's industrial construction sites.
Some of the winners of the first edition of BeyondConventions, including two representatives of the start-up Orbica (both on the right), which drew attention with drone analyses of thyssenkrupp's industrial construction sites.

Shaping the future is a question of mindset

Passion, trust, courage and collaboration – these are the buzzwords that sum up what constitutes a successful start-up in the midst of digital change. Our experts at BeyondConventions have been leading the way for many years. We believe: Trust your vision! And show what innovative ideas can accomplish! Maybe one day our host will welcome you with “Great to have you here on stage, our key note speaker and expert at BeyondConventions!”, too!

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