StartupDorf Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary: A Decade of Innovation, Community, and Growth
Honoring a decade of community, collaboration, and catalyzing change
Looking back, it all began with a tiny seed in a grassroots initiative. StartupDorf planted that seed, not quite knowing what it would grow into. The founders’ meetups were the fertilizer for this seeding, where such seemingly “crazy players” talked about and embarked on a journey to make Düsseldorf and the entire region the No.1 spot for startups in NRW, secretly hoping to later join the top tier of the European startup scene. A decade later, we’ve witnessed tremendous growth, including several major enterprises that have sprouted from this initiative.
A Beacon for Founders – A Timeless Harbor
Our 10-year celebration of StartupDorf on August 9th, 2023, at the NRW-Forum at Ehrenhof not only highlighted StartupDorf’s achievements but also the vision and commitment behind this burgeoning community. It was an occasion not just to celebrate our successes, events, and programs to date, but also a moment of gratitude and acknowledgment for all supporters and board members throughout the years. They have steadfastly set enduring milestones for Düsseldorf’s startup scene through their voluntary work as a private and independent initiative.
Hanns Tappen, Initiator and Chairman of StartupDorf
Words that Matter
Hanns Tappen, as the initiator and chairman of the association closest to StartupDorf’s evolution, proudly noted at the end of his opening speech, “StartupDorf is in a damn good place. Our programs and events are better than ever. The community is growing, and over the years, we’ve become the heart of the startup scene.” Following Tappen’s opening remarks, former mayor Thomas Geisel emphasized the importance of StartupDorf, providing another highlight of the anniversary. He underscored how Düsseldorf has always been a hotspot for innovation and how StartupDorf filled the void in the previously absent startup community. Instead of getting bogged down in bureaucracy, StartupDorf remained innovative and agile, underlined by its initiatives in areas such as PR & Storytelling, Matchmaking, Advocating, and Educating. Geisel urged startups to remain innovative, curious, and hungry and to focus on their passions. This special evening underscored StartupDorf’s importance to Düsseldorf’s dynamic economic landscape.
You can read Thomas Geisel’s complete speech here:
Thomas Geisel, Lord Mayor of the state capital Düsseldorf from 2014 to 2020.
The third speaker of the evening, Dr. med. Ole Martin, Co-Founder of Dermanostic, continued by highlighting the necessity of communities for founders. He especially commended other founders not to get discouraged, regardless of the criticism they might encounter. He reminded everyone that, despite criticism of their team composition, the founders of Dermanostic proved that true passion and determination can overcome any challenge. He also emphasized how startup communities, like StartupDorf, derive strength from their networking capabilities, especially for inexperienced founders, making them particularly helpful for numerous and pressing questions.
Dr. med. Ole Martin, Co-Founder dermanostic.
A Panel that Captivates
The panel discussion, moderated by board member and serial entrepreneur Eugenia Gagin, poignantly showcased the importance of networks and communities with access to investors, knowledge, talent, and partners for the entire startup ecosystem. Sascha Poggemann of Cognigy pointed out that investors need “not just money, but also expertise and the network” to genuinely benefit startups. Meanwhile, Dr. Sebastian Kreft of Metalshub stressed that “Düsseldorf is a prime location for IT companies and tech startups, given the region’s outstanding software developers and top-tier talent.” Serial entrepreneur and CEO of teresa.AI, Zerrin Börcek, rounded out the discussion by stating, “Networks are essential as they multiply the potential for mutual aid among founders.”
All mentioned founders are members to StartupDorf e.V. since years.
Sebastian Kreft also later shared his impressions and advice: “This week StartupDorf e.V., the startup community in #Düsseldorf, celebrated its 10th anniversary! Eugenia Gagin moderated a panel discussion… We need entrepreneurs to drive innovation and positive change! #startupdorf #entrepreneurship #duesseldorf”
By the close of the official program, applause came from all corners, and it was evident that StartupDorf had matured into a fantastic community. The adapted African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a startup,” seemed to ring true.
V.l.n.r Eugenia Gagin, Dr. Sebastian Kreft, Sascha Poggemann und Zerrin Börcek
A Glimpse into the Future
As we saw at our 10th-anniversary party, StartupDorf’s journey is far from over. With a strong community, visionary ideas, and the ongoing support of all stakeholders, the future for StartupDorf and the entire Düsseldorf startup scene looks bright. Various players are increasingly recognizing the importance of authentic networks and expressing their readiness to nurture such grassroots initiatives.
The evening, filled with fantastic founders and influencers, flew by quicker than anyone would have liked – in part, thanks to the warm hospitality of Pong Gastronomy with its diverse flying buffet and delightful wines, which further enhanced the ambiance, location, and mood of all attendees.
A selection of our photos from the event is included in this post. We will soon release a video summary along with some additional testimonials in text form.
We would like to thank again all those present and for the congratulations received through all channels.
Belated Wishes and Looking Ahead
Couldn’t make it to our anniversary evening? No worries! We invite all old comrades to send us a belated birthday wish via our form. A call to all our loyal and new guests: keep an eye out for our upcoming events! Anticipate inspiring content, networking opportunities, and intriguing speakers. Eventbrite.
StartupDorf at a Glance
10 years of StartupDorf: From 2013 to 2023, we’ve seen and achieved a lot.
StartupDorf by the numbers:
- 15 board members
- 200+ active members
- 150+ events
- 220+ pitches
- 7,000+ attendees
- 170+ speakers
- 160+ matchings
- 16,000+ generated contacts
- 8 event formats (4 regularly & active)
- 8,000+ volunteer hours
Founded in 2013 for Düsseldorf, active for the entire administrative district since 2018.