How To: Essential Crowdfunding Tools

For my work for Boréal Bikes, an ebike startup, I recently started to look into a couple tools, which are useful for a crowdfunding campaign. As crowdfunding is getting bigger and bigger, more mature and and a more developed “system” (of testing product ideas etc.), there’s already quite a few companies now that do something especially for companies that are crowdfunding, or, even more specifically, just for companies crowdfunding on Kickstarter or Indiegogo etc..


Get ALL that money from the crowd. Every cent counts.

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Berlin Apps: TrainTimer for iOS

Kevin, one of my basketball teammates has designed an app, which he finished together with a developer, a couple months ago: TrainTimer is a small showcase app – no, they are not a startup 😉 – which wakes you up before your destination, on the train. For now, it only works in the VBB area (Berlin and Brandenburg) and the app is only available in German. If you’re regularly commuting in a train in or around Berlin (or are just curious), you should check it out!

If you also want to get something developed – mobile or otherwise – contact me at johann(at)!

Berlin Startups: Heyyo, seriously?

After about five years in tech, it’s sometimes hard to not become cyncial about and/or overly critical of some very early stage projects that seem rather… not so “promising”. These days, I manage to have a somewhat positive attitude towards most new things, even if they seem somewhat (s)crappy on first and second look. Lots of great companies started out that way, after all, and things looked significantly better for them after a significant pivot etc.. Sometimes you just have to also criticize quality though. (I very much like to criticise questionable business practices and unethical or “illegal” business models of startups – although maybe not quite as much as Daniel Brückner – and think it’s a good thing to do that frequently, but that’s another story.) Maybe it will actually help and get the startup to make a succesful pivot? Ideally before the bubble bursts
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4 Questions 4: Herbert Hellemann (

This time on 4Q4: Herbert Hellemann, a Berlin-based founder of that has been around for a while.

1) You previously worked at ReBuy, an E-Commerce startup that buys up used goods from consumers and sells them again. What is that market like and how have things changed, over your time there?
I had the impression people were not so open to buying used stuff in the beginning, mainly because they thought the quality was not good enough. We really tried to work hard on that and I think people got the point. They started seeing used stuff as still useful and were open to the idea to buy things that were pre-owned.

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4 Questions 4: Danielle Reid ( /

Time for another 4Q4: Danielle Reid, who currently works on two startups, and

1) You’re originally from “Stralya”. Now you’re in Santiago, before you were in Berlin and at some time before that also in Delft/Rotterdam and Guernsey., one of the startups you are involved in now got started in Zimbabwe and has Lesotho as it’s first pilot market. Do you sometimes start to think it would be nice to stay in one place for some longer time now? 😉

I think you would get along well with my mum. 😉
There are pros and cons associated with living and working in different locations. Personally, I get energy from visiting and living in new cities. I think it gives a deeper understanding of a range of cultures, behaviors and mentalities, which as a whole, form a deeper understanding of how your company can achieve product-market fit and build a relevant and beautiful solutions suited to your users. I am, however ready to stay in a place for a longer period of time, as stability provides freedom of thought to focus on solving a problem, as well as building a great team.

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4 Questions 4: Yuki “Charles” Mochzuki (Xvolve)

The 4Q4 Q&A series continues, this time with Yuki “Charles” Mochzuki, CEO of Xvolve, a company that you will probably hear more about soon. Xvolve is new to Berlin, but already established in San Francisco and Tokyo.

1) Have you always been into tech and startup things?

Yes, but we are not just focusing on the tech industry. If we have a chance, and if we think it’s better to start in another industry, we are willing to try anything. Our final goal and answer is not in business. Our mission is to “change the world to make a better place”. Business is just a spring board for us.

Therefore, if opening a grocery store is the quickest way to our final goal, we might open grocery stores to get there. But for now, we think that IT and tech are the fastest way to achieve our mid-term goal which is “to be larger than Google by 2020”.

2) You are around Berlin for a few weeks already now. What are you first impressions?

People are very diverse and very open. It feels like I am back in San Francisco. The startup scene is growing here, but there is also the artist philosophical side too. It’s like California in Germany, minus the weather.

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Second Guest post over at the Startup Guide Berlin blog

In case you did not see it yet, now you have time to look, as there’s nothing new here (yet): I wrote a second guest post on the Startup Guide Berlin blog, on startup definitions (of Blank, Graham and others), which got published last week.

As a reminder, my first post was about Skysense, a Berlin-Italian startup and Startup Chile-participant that removes some limitations in the industrial applications of drones.

Berlin Startups: Exit time for Absolventa & Quandoo etc. – What about 6WK, Vamos?

After a short break with focus on FreeCodeCamp, job applications and other things, back to the blog! The last week was rather eventful for Berlin and startups, in terms of exits – Absolventa and Quandoo found theirs. Hamburg startup Metrigo “switched” theirs, from one Berlin-based buyer to another. Fab, if you want to count their leftovers as a Berlin startup nowadays, also found one. As that’s all old news by now, one more interesting thing to speculate is who might have an exit soon. Or who might need an exit soon. First, the old news…

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Berlin Events: Start up Showcase with Charmaine Li of on March 24th

English-language media on Berlin startups is not exactly flourishing these days. That’s why one should read and support amateur on-the-side things, like this blog, or the somewhat more professional but not so active Startüberlin (which is, by the way, open to posts from the community, I think), or listen to Hipster & Hack from the Silicon Allee team and subscribe to the TechBerlin bi-weekly newsletter. Despite Felicitias Hackmann’s efforts, VentureVillage is not what it used to be. While it’s still worth a read, especially for people that do not understand German and therefore Gründerszene (the German-language startup blog of Vertical Media, the Axel Springer-owned company that’s also behind VentureVillage), there’s not many original posts there anymore. One positive thing is that Charmaine Li, formerly writing for VentureVillage, has found a new home at*

This brings me away from this “side track”, to the actual topic of the post: as a whole is not puting a particular emphasis on Berlin, probably because Robin Wauters as the main writer is based in Brussels and most of there other writers are scattered around Europe, but Charmaine still brings stories from here frequently and now she’s also host for a (GE-sponsored) event. The “After Hours – Start up Showcase with Charmaine Li of” at the Factory on the evening of Tuesday, March 24th will feature pitches from Changers, Priori Data and Neuronation – some interesting local startups – as well as Kacper Nowicki from GoEuro, one of the more succesful Berlin startups, and Tanja Kufner from accelerator Startup Bootcamp, as keynote speakers. If you want your startup story to appear in, this probably is also a good opportunity to try to pitch Charmaine. 😉

* Unlike a number of other former colleagues that switched to PR or left tech entirely.

Berlin Startups: Patience on Product Hunt today!

Berlin startup* has made it onto Product Hunt today and for the moment it looks like they collect a decent number of votes. Patience offers a SaaS solution for anyone to offer and sell their own online classes. Investors in the e-learning platform include Holtzbrinck Digital and RI Digital. You can also check them out and follow them on Angellist.

Talking about Product Hunt and Berlin, you should not miss their next meetup, coming up in a week, on March 11th.

Further talking about Berlin and Product Hunt, there is a collection of Berlin Startups, by David Nagy you should check out. At this moment, it’s still somewhat small and incomplete, but maybe this post will motivate him to do something about that. 😛


* Disclosure: I met Nikolaus Thomale, their CEO, during the early days of DailyDeal.

4 Questions 4: Nathan Williams (Subvise & Hinwise)

Interviews require being in the same place at the same time, or at the very least a (Skype) call, and that is very time-consuming to do. That’s why for my blog, I opted to go for Q&As which I will call “4 Questions 4″ instead. This is not an interview – keep that in mind, when reading “4Q4″! For this edition, I decided to “question” local expat-entrepreneur Nathan Williams.

1) You moved to Berlin from Montreal, Canada. When and why did you decide that you want to make the move to Europe? Did you consider other options than Berlin?

In 2012 I graduated with an MBA from the John Molson School of Business. My wife and I knew it was time to leave Montreal, partly because of the economy, partly to really kick-start a new period in our lives. We had looked at other cities in Canada including Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto, but they were very expensive. Then my wife went on a business trip to Berlin and fell in love with the city. She talked with a few people who told her of the thriving startup scene here. I had worked in startups before and we had always wanted to live in Europe so I said “That’s good enough for me!” I took one German Class at the Goethe institute that September, applied for a visa and came over in February 2013, determined to start a new life in the Berlin Startup Scene.

2) Which things do you see as still missing or lacking in Berlin?

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How To: XMPP OTR Chat with Pidgin

As a short follow-up to my Cryptoparty event post, here a short explanation on how to get started with XMPP (Jabber) OTR chat with Pidgin, to spread some (very basic) knowledge. I deviate from the advice given at the Cryptoparty, because I did not use Jitsi, but rather Pidgin. The reason for not using Jitsi is simply that my brother advised me not to use it, as it is build with Java. Therefore, I reverted to Pidgin, a messenger client I already used before, not so long ago. We did not go into the other steps at this Cryptoparty, so I am not sure in how far they conform with the advice that is usually given there on that. Anyways… Let’s get started!

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(Berlin) Events: Speech Party & Cryptoparty

Quite a few event-related posts on here lately – but this time at least, I want to recommend two useful and educational kinds of events, not merely fun or entertaining ones. By coincidence, despite otherwise not having that much in common, both have “party” in their name, which really might make you expect something that is primarily just entertaining, however, in these cases, it’s misleading. I attended both a Speech Party and a Cryptoparty in Berlin this week, both are also happening in other places though (hence the Berlin in brackets, in the title). Both are regular, reoccuring events (hence no date in the title).

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Berlin Events: Product Hunt Berlin Meetup coming up in March

Thanks to an invite on Facebook by David Nagy, I got to know of the next Product Hunt meetup at Aperto “in time”. March 11th might seem like a long time away for a meetup, but in case you want to go, you probably should get your ticket on Eventbrite soon. I got no info whether Andreas Klinger* (their CTO), or even “Ryan himself“, will be coming, but given that the first Product Hunt meetup in Berlin (at The Factory) was already very crowded from everything I heard – I missed it due to being in Vienna around Pioneers for some longer time – and the second one probably was as well, based on what I see on Facebook (did not hear about that one at the time), you might need to decide soon. I would not expect anything close to what happened in San Francisco in any case, but I suspect they might have started using tickets for a reason… So, whether you want to get on the PH hype bandwaggon, or rather want to critically evaluate the hype, you probably should make up your mind soon!

* Side note: Besides his personal website and blog, Andreas also has a cool site with some curated videos about customer development.

Berlin Events: Appcircus – App Pitch Competition

To give The Factory’s community efforts a chance (or because I did not have anything better to do), I checked out Appcircus in Berlin last Tuesday evening. After some introductory talk on what Appcircus is about and how it is related to Mobile World Congress and a talk about the Google Cloud (which in large parts I already heard before elsewhere, at Mobile Monday some months ago), it was right to the pitches. Six pitches, actually, instead of ten, as previously announced (which was fine though), were evaluated by a panel of judges.

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Startup Products I Use – Vol. 1

In “Startup Products I Use” I will regularly update you on the products of startups which I use… regularly. The rules are quite simple:

1. The organization behind the product has to be a startup.

2. I need to actually use the product regularly.

“Former startups” do not count and neither do products which I would like to use, some time, when I can afford them etc.. Therefore, it will be a rather short list, every time, which I will update every now and then. Quite different from most of the “10 products to do X”-posts you see on many blogs, I have actual experience as a customer or user, often over a longer term. So, let’s get started!

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