What is Pirate Summit

(and why I like burning things)

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Every year in a scrapyard in Cologne, Germany a group of selected tech entrepreneurs, investors and bloggers gather for what is year’s major unconference in Europe — Pirate Summit. With burn-out planes, fire-breathing robots and just about perfect dose of crazy activities soaking attendees into a creative mix of technology, graffiti, innovation, bungee jumping, old tires and startup spirit. This year it will be September 6–7.

This video from Pirate Summit 2015 by Interactive Pioneers and my friend Carlo Matic captures a bit of the mood.

I joined Pirate Summit this January to run Pirate Summit Global, it's international chapter. And been asked by my friends who has never been there what's it like. Here's a few photos that tells it better than any words. Partially because Dan is amazing photographer, and partially because there are things you just have to experience to understand.

Startups walk the plank in front of an international jury and hundreds of attendees. Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

While Pirate Summit may have lots of things in common with other startup events, those just happen in a rather unorthodox way. And because startup events are aimed for networking and knowledge sharing, it’s just a perfect environment for that.

That is an actual plank. Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Packed with digital nomads, startups and investors Pirate Summit is buzzing with creative minds..

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Enjoying different activities..

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Sports..

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Or just a peaceful nap..

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

While others are working..

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

And yes, we like to burn things. All kinds of them. Some people call Pirate Summit the ‘burning man of Europe’

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

We even make special sculptures, and then burn them.

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

In fact it’s an old Cologne tradition. Burning things. It’s done during the famous Cologne carnival to get rid of last year’s sins, but it’s also fun to do it in September. And generally any time.

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

But more than warmth, fire sparks conversations with hundreds of awesome technology people gathering from across all the world.

It's an intentionally small scale event, attendees are selected by an application process and speeches are rarely recorded. Everyone's in is special, worth to know — and open to meet new, inspiring people to build meaningful connections — a privilege in digital world.

Photo ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media

Pirate Summit main event in Cologne with it's 1500 attendees is a summary of a year-long journey by us across the world searching for top startups, entrepreneurs and speakers. There’s been 55 Pirate Summit events outside Cologne last year to accomplish such quality of crowd. Every bit of it is well thought. Stay tuned for 2016!