Meet the speakers for ThingsCon


What do all these people have in common?


Adam Scheuring

Alasdair Allan

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Anders Guldahl

Bethany Koby

Boris Anthony

Brady Forrest

Emily Brooke

Gawin Dapper

Gerrit Niezen

Hannes Jentsch

Jessi Baker

Louisa Heinrich

Marcel Schouwenaar

Markus Andrezak

Martin Jordan

Martin Spindler

Matt Biddulph

Matt Webb

Miquel Ballester

Nikolaj Hviid

Norbert Haller

Olivier Mével

Peter Troxler

Rachel Rayns

Reto Wettach

Ron Evans

Ronen Kadushin

Sami Niemelä

Siert Wijnia

Thomas Madsen-Mygdal

Usman Haque

Zach Supalla


That’s right, they are all leading experts in their field, they are all amazing, inspiring people, and they are all speakers at ThingsCon.


Frankly I can hardly believe we managed to get this kick-ass group together. Can’t wait for the event.


So what are you waiting for – if you haven’t yet, sign up right now to join the fun.

You’d like to sponsor, but don’t know what? Get in touch!


If your company would like to support the Berlin tech ecosystem by sponsoring an event, get in touch, I might have a good opportunity for you (at almost any given moment)._



Usually sponsor acquisition is a matter of trust and building long-term relationships. That requires, of course, that both parties know each other in the first place. Experience shows that this isn’t always the case, sometimes a little matchmaking or pure luck makes all the difference. At other times, it’s the timing that matters. While community outreach through event sponsoring might be a bad fit one moment, it can be the perfect fit the next moment. It’s always a matter of context, after all.

Sponsoring is tricky to get right (see my Sponsoring DOs and DON’Ts), but if it’s done right it can be magical for all parties involved. A sponsor can be a rock star at a conference, enabling to take the level to the next level.

Since I run quite a lot of events and am tapped quite closely into the tech conference scene – in Berlin and across Europe – I usually have a pretty good grasp of what’s going on at any given time.


I’d like to invite you to drop me a line if you ever consider sponsoring an event. There’s a good chance I can offer a great sponsoring opportunity for your needs.


Often, I’m directly involved in conferences. To name just some from the last few years: UIKonf, ThingsCon, Cognitive Cities Conference, Ignite Berlin, TEDxKreuzberg. There were more.

The sponsors involved in some of my events range from startups to larger organizations and corporates, so you know you’ll be in good company. To name just a few: Electric Imp, Facebook, Mercedes/Smart, Microsoft, Highway1, Spark, Twilio and Wooga have all sponsored before.

Often times, sponsoring opportunities are very flexible if planned with enough of a headstart. So why not get in touch if you have something in mind, or are considering it for the future. We’ll have a chat and see where it leads, and by the time you’re ready or the next event comes around, we’ll see if things work out!

Quick updates: ThingsCon, UIKonf, NEXT Berlin & more


Just briefly some link for you to peruse:

Over at ThingsCon, we have a more or less final program for day 2, an unpolished draft program for day 1, a location for the workshop day (day 1, at Betahaus), and the last few days of early bird tickets. (We extended them to this Friday, 6pm CET.)

For UIKonf, we have a (nearly) final speaker list, a yummy menu draft, excellent coffee, a location for the hackday (betahaus), and also still tickets available.

At NEXT Berlin, ticket sales will go live any day now, and the program is announced step by step.

In other news: Setting up my new company as an umbrella for all my activities is in process, more on that soon. The schedule and speaker list for SolidCon is online and seeing the other speakers I feel humbled to be part of that list.

It’s time to take a fresh look at THINGS




We’re organizing Things, an independent two day event about the future of hardware and the hardware business. This is why, and what we’re planning.

Basic info

  • Date: 2-3 May 2014
  • Location: Berlin (details TBD)
  • Format: 2 day conference full of talks, demos, learning & networking
  • Website: thingscon.com
  • Twitter: @thingscon
  • Sign up for launch news here

Why ThingsCon? Why now?

Over the last few years, we’ve been seeing three trends — or rather, narratives — emerge.

1. Hardware and software are increasingly merging

Hardware and software are merging, and in many ways becoming more similar. This goes by many different names, all strongly related and with only slightly different focus. To name just a few: Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices, post-digital, smart things, machine-to-machine (M2M), physical web. (There are many more names.)

No matter which terminology you prefer, what we see is the culmination of a number of developments that lead to devices of all sorts being connected to the internet.

That kind of changes everything: Devices can communicate, so they produce data that can trigger actions beyond said devices. Devices can respond to external triggers. They stop existing as a discreet unit and rather become part of a larger system, an ecosystem, a responsive environment.

It also means that product design becomes a whole different beast. Now a device isn’t “done” once it leaves the factory, rather it can be updated like software (because it is part software), it evolves over time. We need to rethink obsolescence, maintenance, compatibility over time. Once connected, devices — more than ever — have implications for privacy, security and data ownership (see the Declaration of the Open Internet of Things Assembly).

Once devices are connected, it means they become more responsive, maybe even context-aware. The same goes for environments, like your city, once a layer of data covers the world.

All this is somewhat vague as terminology, understanding and ethics aren’t fully matured in this space yet – in fact the space itself isn’t fully defined as of yet, as lines are blurry. Yet, we see lots happening there, and the impact can be felt already – only, as so often, this particular part of the future isn’t equally distributed yet.


The Good Night Lamp from Good Night Lamp on Vimeo.

An example of how connectedness changes everyday objects: The GoodNightLamp, a family of connected lamps.

2. New manufacture changes production

Related, yet a distinctly different thread, is the emergence of new manufacture, or what’s often referred to as 3D printing and related technologies. (Here, the terminology is much more clearly defined, but in the mainstream discourse mostly turns up referred to as something like “3D printing and stuff”.) Additive and substractive production methods, rapid prototyping, open hardware all have reached a point of maturity where capacities once reserved to big industry is more or less in the hands of individuals that a few years ago wouldn’t have been able to access it.

As a simple example, think of 3D printing. The automotive industry has long been using additive manufacturing (laser sintering, etc.) for rapid prototyping of their models. Dental clinics are printing a good chunk of their dental replacements these days. Architects have been 3D printing and laser cutting models for ages.

Yet, only over the last few years amateurs (in the sense of “non-professional, interested individuals”) and tinkerers have gotten their hands on similar tech. Starting out in the hacker and DIY scene, these production capabilities are entering the mainstream. Not mom-and-pop stores just yet, but almost certainly in every major city you’ll find a maker space that lets you use a printer should you need it. And with more patents expiring every month, we see the field maturing to a point where the production quality gets very close to industrial grade manufacturing, and prices drop to allow for a wide range of new products, services and business models.


Makie Makies are dolls, made possible through custom, on-demand 3D printing.

3. Berlin’s emerging startup ecosystem

These trends lead to a whole new emerging ecosystem of startups, entrepreneurs, ideas, services around the globe. But it’s still early days. So far, the most promising hubs include San Francisco, New York, London and a few others.

I believe that Berlin is in an excellent position to establish itself as a leading hub for the new hardware business. The city’s emerging startup ecosystem, its strong hacker and DIY culture, relatively low cost of living that allows for experimentation, and Germany’s strong tradition in industrial production means Berlin should be capable of enabling a new crop of entrepreneurs to take their ideas from prototype to business, at scale. A number of policies and initiatives aimed at fostering innovation and the connections between industry (Germany’s famous Mittelstand) and the entrepreneurial scene certainly won’t hurt.

This isn’t about competing with other cities — it’s about realizing Berlin’s huge potential.


Electric Imp demo at IoTBerlin Prototype demo at an IoT Berlin meetup.

ThingsCon is where these three narratives connect

We put together Things because we think it’s important to interweave the three narratives laid out above — it’s where they culminate in a concrete time and space. Because it’s exchanging ideas and fostering lasting relationships — in other words, building a community — that in my experience helps more than any big initiative. Peer exchange, learning from each other, helping each other — and knowing who to call when you hit a wall of some sorts — is incredibly valuable.

We believe that Things can help with that, and provide the kind of space for these kinds of connection to be built. So let’s get this done together!

So what are we planning to do concretely?

Primarily, we aim build an awesome event for exchange, learning, networking. A space to connect and foster lasting relationships. To learn from others who’ve been there, done that. To learn how to best get from prototype to designing for scaling, to building a business. Hosted in Berlin, but with an international focus, the focus is on building connections between Berlin and not just the rest of Germany, but all of Europe (and beyond, wherever possible). We’ll get the most interesting folks from all over Europe together in Berlin, put them in a room, shake it up thoroughly, and surely some amazing things will emerge.


ThingsCon target audience Sketch: Our mental model of who ThingsCon is for.


Leading up to Things, we’re currently planning a road trip where we take a number of entrepreneurs, innovators, tinkerers, startups and what have you to meet more of the Mittelstand, to visit production facilities and industry representatives and researchers. By fostering that dialog, we believe we can help create lasting relationships and lots of value as both sides can help each other and learn from each other. And, of course, do business together.

Third, we’ll announce Hardware Day Berlin. Think of it as a flag in the ground for other events to gather around and turn Berlin into a hardware hub for the day, with lots of workshops, meetups, events of all kinds. Hardware Day Berlin will (most likely) take place on 2 May 2014, the first of two days of ThingsCon.

If you’re interested in attending, stay tuned for updates here, on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter. If you’d like to get involved in some role (as a sponsor, by organizing an event on Hardware Day, as a speaker, or as a partner for our IoT-meets-Mittelstand road trip), or if you just want to learn more, please ping us.

Thank you and see you soon at Things!

Announcing: Things, a 2-day event on hardware business


Just the briefest of announcements of something we’ve been working on for a while:


Things will be a kickass event for the hardware ecosystem (hardware as in connected devices, IoT, and the related fields). Focusing not on private tinkering but on building and scaling hardware businesses, and working towards establishing Berlin as a (emerging but one day leading) hardware hub, it’s going to be two days of conference plus a wide range of relevant satellite events.

Copy & paste from our temporary website:


Berlin, May 2 & 3.

An international line-up of speakers will cover everything it takes to turn garage projects into scaling companies. Additional demo sessions will give exposure to some of the most interesting hardware companies in Europe. Plus plenty of space to foster community, collaboration and exchange of ideas in Berlin as one of Europe’s top emerging hardware hubs.


More information soon! Until we have a real website, sign up for updates over at thingscon.com

Volunteering and working with volunteers


Berlin lights

Working with volunteers and running non-profit, volunteer-based things (organizations, events, you name it) has its own set of challenges and its own particular flavor of awesomeness.

On one hand, it’s tricky because the only reason participants are volunteering their time and energy – often in great amounts! – based on their motivation. There’s usually not much fame to gain, and certainly no money.

On the other hand, it’s really awesome because the group dynamics of building something great together can be incredibly rewarding.

What happens if things go wrong? What if volunteers get attacked for their actions?

Often you’ll find a certain mellow eagerness in volunteer events: Everybody’s really keen on getting something great up and running, but also forgiving with the other members. After all, you can’t force someone to volunteer – it has to come from within each and everyone.

I remember that one of the first hate mails personal insults I received by a stranger was for getting involved as a volunteer in a free culture event. Why that guy thought being involved in it – or maybe me being involved in it – was terrible, and why he went to great lengths and effort to write a fairly eloquent and certainly very lengthy two-page or so personal insult to me I’ll never find out (and I never tried). The arguments were incoherent, but he had done his research on me and combined it with personal stereotypes he disliked independently from me.

It struck me as weird back then, and still today, to take upon yourself an effort to discourage someone from volunteering for a good cause. And upfront too – the event turned out great, so it wasn’t a complaint about work done badly, either.

(In some twisted way I do enjoy a well-written diss. But that’s another story.)

That was a few years ago. I learned a lot that day. Among other things, that it’s really not a good idea to base your decision on hateful messages people send you on the internet; that I prefer not to have my home address published anywhere; that some people are — despite me trying not to be judgmental usually — just malicious or simply idiots or really should learn to express themselves better.

It also taught me to respect every volunteer’s work even more than before. These days I make a point of thanking volunteers whenever I can, because in many cases they invest a lot of time and energy into making something great – and not even for themselves, but for others too.

If you’re ever (for lack of a better word, and as much as that applies for volunteer efforts) “in charge” of anything that relies on volunteers, make sure to do whatever you can to make their life easier. If anything goes wrong, it is your job as the instigator to stand in front of them and protect them, because they do their best. And if you screw something up, be open and frank and apologize and do better. It’s the least you can do. (Alas, often it’s also the only thing you can do.)

And if there’s still a jerk around who complains or attacks a volunteer, or maybe even you as a volunteer organizer, it’s ok to show them the door. Because the social contract that’s implicit in a volunteer-driven effort is that it’s built on mutual respect. If someone doesn’t play by the rules, they don’t get to be part of the game.

Because volunteer-driven things – read: things run purely on motivation – are awesome. And being a part of something awesome is a privilege. Period.

UIKonf 2014 is ON!


UIKonf logo


A couple of days ago we relaunched the website for UIKonf. All new and shiny now!

So that’s awesome to begin with, but what’s even better is the amazing positive feedback from UIKonf alumni. Who aren’t just the nicest folks out there, but who also trust us enough to put their money where their mouth is by purchasing tickets about seven months in advance. Which is amazing and incredibly helpful for us as a small team running an indie conference.


You guys all rock. Thank you!


So, details on the website. But the at-a-glance basics:

  • Berlin, 14-16 May 2014
  • Two days of conference plus a hackday plus lots of small stuff on the sides
  • Again, we’ll have an anonymous Call for Proposals as well as top food and coffee and some other nice stuff.

Early bird tickets are available now (first come first serve). Get yours now!


As a little thank you, we also have a special deal for alumni. (We only emailed those participants who last year gave us permission to get in touch with. So if you attended UIKonf 2013 and did not receive an email from us about a special alumni deal around Oct 7, please let either one of us know or drop us a line to questions_at_uikonf_dot_com and we’ll hook you up.)

We also weren’t all that happy with the way ticketing worked last time. So this time, it’s an all new setup: Ticketing itself goes through Tito, which is hooked up to Stripe for payments. Both services work like a charm, and particularly the Tito team has been incredibly helpful and responsive during the setup phase. Event organizers, if you use anything else for your ticketing you’re missing out.


So, that’s that. More infos at uikonf.com and on Twitter (@uikonf).