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Disruption – take a swing

Anne portrait
Anne Kjaer Riechert


With 35 plus categories, 1000 entries, over 150.000 votes cast only for the People´s Choice and
more than 1,000 guests, this years The Europas was anticipated as a highlight of the European tech scene, getting 2013 off to a good start. Unlike the digital industry, award ceremonies are, however, not a numbers game. Were The Europas able to deliver on its great promise?

“When you hear the word ‘Disruption’, take a swing” was the cheeky welcome message from Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of The Europas, when he took the centre stage at Postbahnhof in Berlin last night. The tone was set for an evening of cheerful celebration in an industry of misfits, rebels and troublemakers, who Steve Jobs rightfully could have named “The Crazy Ones”.

Geekiness is finally attractive in both
women and men;
a turn-on trait in fact!

The upside

Giving the dispersed EuropIMG_4348ean tech scene a chance to get together, to recognize the people pushing the industry forward, is a desirable manifestation to show off the high quality of innovation taking place in Europe right now. Not only does it provide significant benchmarks it also functions as an important marketing platform, which will keep the industry busy in times of recession.

The Europas should be praised for this bold and ambitious initiative, as it furthermore provides an opportunity for business angels, venture capitalists, budding start-uppers, seasoned entrepreneurs and media to rub shoulders and share ideas over free drinks. Even Mike Butcher, the European Editor of TechCrunch was attending. Your best chance rubbing shoulders with him was, however, to stand next to his cut-out shape at the front door.

 

More initiatives like The Europas are definitely needed if the European tech scene has the ambition to provide a viable alternative to the global tech hub of Silicon Valley. On a personal level, it was clear that the nominees and winners were excited about the event too. One quick glance at The Europas hashtag on Twitter clearly displays that. After winning the prize for Best Advertising or Marketing Tech Start-up, Jan Razeen, CEO of Socialbakers, for instance announced on his Twitter: “I am having the best working day of my life!”

Fishermans Friends´ table ratio
was inverse of the general trend,
and populated by 75% female to men.

IMG_4343The downside
But enough of the niceties; The Europas themselves declares that they are “not about backslapping”.

First and foremost, it is possibly the most homogeneous good-looking group of people seen in Berlin in a long time; trimmed, well-dressed Caucasian males in prime – ALL of them! But where were the women and the Grey Gold? The eldest person seen must have been Ben Rooney from the Wall Street Journal, who received the prize for Best Tech Journalist of the Year. But where were the heavyweight investors and the serial-entrepreneurial elders with their deep perspectives? Had they sent their young, hungry and handsome protégés, or is the tech industry still in its infancy, and thus dominated by a new generation of start-up hipsters.

 

Where are the Women?

IMG_4341

You would almost have to be a “Where´s Wally”-pro to spot a woman in the room. But for our part we did our best to address the gender imbalance at The Europas. Fishermans Friends´ table ratio was inverse of the general trend, and populated by 75% female to men.

If we however, consider diversity a business tool, it is pertinent to question the endurance of the European tech scene (-and the quality of future parties), if this imbalance is not corrected. One has to ask, not because gender balance is pleasant, but because it makes good business sense to do so. When we know that at least 50% of the online customers are women, why are 95% of the guests at the Europas men?

organized by the Irish and
executed in Berlin with
an Eastern-European slant,
it goes without saying what
priorities would come first.

There is clearly an untapped market waiting to be explored here, and Berlin is off to a good start with initiatives like the Berlin Geekettes. People visiting Berlin are often surprised to see so many girls about on the tech-scene, hacking along in tech cafes and co-working spaces. It is a welcome development that we now have shed the negative image of the geek guys as spotty pizza eating beer-guzzling Neanderthals. Geekiness is finally attractive in both women and men; a turn-on trait in fact!

“Where the f*** is the food”

No ‘sausage fest’ without at least a little mentioning of the catering.
Considering this event was organized by the Irish and executed in Berlin with an Eastern-European slant, it goes without saying what priorities would come first. No matter at the party, pre-party and after-party copious amount of spirits, wine and beer was consumed. The food element was however, more of a symbolic gesture, with strange bubble padded blue tokens adding an element of fun. The 6 Euro denominations on them were definitely hilarious, to say it the least.

But not all people found the lack of food entertaining. Ex-Googler Anil Hanshjee on his Twitter even went as far as to declare, Worst organised awards I’ve ever been 2. Where the f*** is the food. Glad I did not pay for my ticket. Sorry. Honest feedback”.

Why do I need to mention this? We were not there for the food and free drinks. We were there to celebrate and network. Unfortunately, the 35+ categories were quite simply too many to squeeze in. The content was therefore too compromised, to make it an enjoyable evening for the guests. Luckily there were lessons learned in start-ups agile methodology tradition.  Next time round the organisers will have to make a harder swing to ensure that The Europas will become the ‘Disruption’ it deserves to be.

By: Anne Kjær Riechert,

Founder of We Have a Dream

 

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