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Twice around the world — and back!

First of all a big SORRY to all my friends that I have not visited in 2016, that I could not meet personally, that had to rely on chatting with me on skype or Facebook live. 12 month flew by and looking back now — while listing all my business trips for my tax declaration — I realized that 2016 has been as „travel-crazy“ as 2015. I covered more than 78,000 km this year — which more or less equals twice around the world. Here some of my highlights:

January: Kicking off 2016 at DLD

To start the conference season in style, I can highly recommend to apply for the selected tickets for the prestigious DLD conference in Munich. The Who-is-Who of the digital industry is meeting — and half of them continue to the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2016, I attended for the first time and was blown away by the mixed crowd. My personal highlight? Chatting with Alexander Klöpping, ‪Founder at Dutch media startup Blendle about the future of quality journalism.

February: Barcelona calling!

In February 2016, I started my new job at etventure Startup Hub (formerly known as European Innovation Hub) after a short excursion in the Fintech sector at the Berlin-based company builder Finleap. While combining my job and my startup activities seemed to be an unsolvable challenge at Finleap, I slipped easily in my role at etventure Startup Hub, where connecting people is core of my job. At Mobile World Congress and 4YFN, I presented our Israeli startup VoiceItt as well at the IoT-European Platforms Initiative, one of the EU-funded programs etventure is managing. My absolute highlight on this trip: By accident I saw a facebook post on a special TechCrunch meetup inviting startups to pitch. “All in!”, right? I ended up pitching without any slides, balancing on a broken wooden crate for 2 min to a group of TechCrunch editors and investors — and won another trip that became one of my biggest adventures in 2016: TechCrunch Disrupt New York!

March: Laying low!

Changing jobs, organizing a DemoDay of the accelerator EuropeanPioneers in April, settling into a new job and a new team, I decided to slow down in March — just a bit! However, one of the events you can’t miss is CeBIT. With Scale11, CeBIT Global Conference and a special Blogger event, Hanover is worth a day-trip.

April: Hello Mr. President!

On a Thursday in April, I received an invitation that took me by surprise: “You are invited to listen to the speech of President Obama in person” — on Monday. Tough schedule! But did the US embassy actually expected me to say “No”? Well, I did not! But obviously, I did not realize what I got myself into. Security and logistics required a lot of patience. Finally, after 4+ hours of waiting and security controls, I could enjoy the Presidents speech at Hannover Messe. Since leaving Hanover was as tricky as entering the fair ground, I decided to roam the halls to scout innovation. My resume: If you like hardware — like I do — Hannover Messer is even more exciting than CeBIT.

May: “If you make it there, you make it everywhere” — New York City!

As mentioned before, pitching in Barcelona brought me back to the city where I got infected by travel craziness close to 15 years ago. Thanks to a stipend by InWent, I attended a special PR program at the State University of New Paltz in NY and interned in the City. Coming back in May 2016, I decided to explore my old hood. What a fun! Mixing work and pleasure is possible — but it also takes its toll. And the special bonus: Two free tickets for TechCrunch Disrupt New York proved to be the perfect reason to check out the startup scene in Big Apple and reconnect with contacts from Samsung, YAI and my old Uni. (PS: toll = 15,000 miles & 20h in the air and some serious jetlag coming back to Europe!)

June: Finally, back in CEE!

In 2016, I hardly ever visited CEE although I am huge fan of the Central and Eastern European startup community. In June, I attended IoT Week in Belgrade, Serbia. Although I met just a handful of startups at this rather research-driven conference, I got to know the people and the spirit of the city. One word: Impressive! Apparently, AgriTech and IoT are on the rise in Serbia. Note to myself (and you!): Serbia is worth a second trip!

July: Nothing to report.

Believe it not, apparently I did not leave Berlin in July. No flight, no train ticket on my credit card. Incredible!

But obviously, I had to plan a lot of trips in the following months, such as my trip to Asia, my travel to Tel Aviv and my local events in Berlin and Munich.

August: Travelling virtually.

In August, I travelled virtually to Asia, Mena and all throughout Europe — with the help of the 10 awesome startups in the current batch of Startupbootcamp Istanbul. In five amazing mentoring sessions on communications, storytelling, social media & co, I learned as much about their startup communities as I could share with them. I am still humbled! Mentoring opens horizons even business trips can’t open.

September: My Israeli month!

My September was truly dominated by Israel. First I explored Berlin with 30 Israeli entrepreneurs during a special 10-day study trip, later I traveled to the heart of “Startup Nation” to attend DataNatives and DLD in Tel Aviv. In between, I squeezed in a quick trip to Brussels. In month 9 of 2016, I had to admit: I am in need of a big vacation!

October: Sun (and rain) in Asia

In October alone, I nearly “travelled once around the equator: Berlin-Vienna-Stuttgart-Vienna-Berlin-Munich-Berlin-Bangalore-Manila-Jakarta-Berlin: approx 35,000 km in 20 days. Information overload! Too much to process! In December, I finally found time to sort though my impressions and to start sharing them in my blog.

November: Germany is exciting too.

After spending so much time on the road (or in an airplane), my colleagues obviously had withdrawal. From every trip, you will bring back new impressions, new ideas, new potential partners, new projects. In between trips it is as important to follow up on all these new opportunities. So I limited myself to some smaller trips to Brussels, Munich and of course Duesseldorf to attend Medica. The advantage: I could enjoy the pre-Christmas season! And yes, I missed WebSummit, Slush and all the other amazing events in November — no withdrawal signs on my side!

December: The end is near!

Snow, Snow, Snow in Austria! No more words left!



… a blog providing advice for early-stage #startups, telling startup stories from European #entrepreneurs and smart minds. Powered by Maren Lesche, storyteller & Startup Specialist from Berlin.

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Maren Lesche

Maren Lesche

Founder, Ecosystem Building @ #IntellIoT, Head of Incubation @Vision Health Pioneers Incubator, #mentor, #storyteller #networker