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Founder Talk - From the Silicon Valley to the Rhein Neckar Valley - Follow up

Founder Talk - From the Silicon Valley to the Rhein Neckar Valley - Follow up

In our MCEI Founder Talk “From the Silicon Valley to the Rhine Neckar Valley” on October 18, we had the great honor of having André Marquis (Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley), and Erik Magdanz (U.S. Embassy, Berlin) at the University of Mannheim to share their yearlong experience with us. Both speakers are serial entrepreneurs themselves and have a very strong background in scaling up ventures in the Silicon Valley and beyond.

The opportunity of having André and Erik at the University of Mannheim was brought to us by the ifex (initiative for start-ups and corporate succession of the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Housing Baden-Württemberg) and we are very grateful to Professor Schäfer and Katja Gieseler for integrating us in the delegation’s Germany tour. During their visit, André and Erik also visited the founder centers offered by our partners at the city of Mannheim and the mg:GmbH. This Founder Talk special was held on October 18, 2016 in the Fuchs-Petrolub ballroom of the University of Mannheim. Students of the University and everybody interested in the topic were invited to the event with an amazing response rate. André and Erik were welcomed by a curious audience of about 100 participants (including many founders) in a fully booked room.

The Founder Talk began with brief introductions of the two speakers followed by the keynote speech of André Marquis. André vividly shared his experience in founding several startups and what mattered most in the process of successfully founding and growing these companies. He put special emphasis on customer development and validating guesses (aka hypotheses) early on in the process of founding a venture. Going through the journey of customer development (see also Steve Blank) is highly relevant for building a scalable business model. It can save time, pain, energy and money and increase the odds of success. André shared a lot of great learnings derived from building entrepreneurship courses at UC Berkeley and how encouraging students to fail quickly and teach them to embrace failure can help building viable businesses faster and lean. The culture of the Silicon Valley is characterized by sharing experience, providing immediate feedback and offering introductions to people that might be able to help ("paying it forward"). Who has experienced the Q&A and joined us in the subsequent Startup Lounge in Café L3 can tell from firsthand experience: André and Erik participated in the open networking and answered further questions way past 10pm. A crowded Startup Lounge provided lots of room for exchanging ideas and everybody left with extremely high inspiration, motivation and excitement.

Speaking of the MCEI team, we had lots of fun and found the keynote highly encouraging to keep on helping the Rhein Neckar Valley’s startup ecosystem flourish. The MCEI's mission is to stimulate the startup culture. We hope that you share our excitement! Join us living the Silicon Valley spirit here in Mannheim!! Check out our new Startup Support and Partner Pages on and see how we can help you get started!!

We are grateful to André, Erik and our partners for enabling us to put up the event!

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  • University of Mannheim
  • Institut für Mittelstandsforschung
  • Gründerverbund
  • ESF
  • Europäische Union
  • Baden-Württemberg - Ministerium für Finanzen und Wirtschaft
  • Absolventum