Day two of Campus Party is underway, working with the theme ‘Women in Tech’. Correspondingly, female hosts have been scheduled for every stage, including the women in tech panel a discussion entitled the ‘green ceiling’ and the Berlin Geekettes panel. A Campus Party host proudly announced that the event has a ratio of 70/30 men to women participants, a definite rarity in the tech industry.
The most popular events are still the practical workshops rather than the theoretical speeches. Workshops along the edge of the hanger are full to the brim with people fiddling with wires, decoding and hacking away at their laptops. Robotics stage, Galileo, is also a major drawcard, particularly the Robogames event. The energy at the event is high, the 20-something participants are buzzing between hackathons, workshops and speeches. But it isn’t all learning and no fun, the ‘camperusos’ proved they could still be silly by cooling off with a midday water fight, organised by Social Media Week Berlin.
Getting to know you with Yossi Vardi
All frolicking paused for keynote speaker Yossi Vardi, the so-called godfather of the Israeli startup and tech scene and generally a hilarious character who never fails to impress big crowds.
Being named as one of the 50 most important people of the decade and having invested in 70 startups has by no means made Vardi arrogant. He is quick to explain that of the 70 startups, 20 of them failed, some purely because of his own “idiocity”. Vardi’s speech focuses on how to create a successful startup, but it is his crowd interaction (to demonstrate all the things you can’t do on Facebook), that is the highlight. He got some unexpected audience responses, including an audience member jumping onstage to scream into the microphone.
Vardi emphasises that startups need to have ‘chutzpa’ to succeed, along with an acceptance of failure (taught to him by his critical Jewish mother) and always remembering to focus on the user.
“Your user is your customer, your distributor, your developer, but also a pirate that wants to steal your ideas and products. Users always come in this bundle. They’re your best strategist and advisor. Keep your ear to the ground and make sure you listen to them!”
Campus Party goes off without a hitch
Press speaker for Campus Party, Klaus Purkart, highlighted the popularity of the entrepreneurship stage. This is accredited to the nature of Berlin as a startup hub, along with the high numbers of young Spanish participants at the event who are seeking a way out of the high unemployment rates they face back home.
“The point of Campus Party is to bring people together to form networks and learn something new, so they can create the next big things of tomorrow.”
Founder of the event, Paco Ragageles, chose Berlin for this reason. The city’s drawcard as the entrepreneurial hub in Europe makes it the perfect location for the tech and startup festival.
The afternoon speeches included 16-year-old Luis Iván Cuende, who made his first startup at age 12 and made everyone in the audience view their achievements to date in a slightly more critical way. Cuende successfully runs his startup Asturix, an open project to spread free culture and software. His advice was for young entrepreneurs – outlining their need to never give up despite people being against them.
Robogames: The ‘Olympics for Robots’
The international Robogames is serious business, drawing robot engineers from around the world to compete for highly coveted prizes. Speaker Simone Davalos explained the ins and outs of the games, from kung-fu fighting to combat robots and autonomous navigating robots. Terms like ‘arena wranglers’ are thrown around, along with stories of out-of-control 100 pound robots crashing into walls at the games.
“It can be very scary. But for a certain kind of person, Robogames is very addictive. Your first robot will never be your last!”
Friday at Campus Party includes social entrepreneurship, the startup story – from shit to great, cyborg demonstrations and how social technologies are shaping the world. It’s still only the beginning!