Why, whenever I hear about the Pirate Summit, my head fills with the most pleasant memories? When you attend the event every year, it’s not only an event. It’s the first love whom you always want to see and say hello. Yes, it’s the biggest pirate convention, and if you can find a little bit of a pirate in you, I believe, that one day you will visit the event.

Yes, it’s going to be the fourth time I’m visiting one of the most fascinating startup summits I’ve ever been to or heard about. 

Back in 2016, we went there to look around and see what’s happening in the European and German startup scene. It went well, we generated valuable prospects, gained experience, and understood where the SaaS solutions are heading. 

At the event, I saw my first investment pitches for startup founders, founders pitches for investors; all masterclasses and quick 10-minute presentations. It’s priceless. 

The Journey to the Pirate Summit

Until 2018, there were no convenient direct flights to Cologne, so we had to take Vilnius-Dusseldorf-Cologne-Copenhagen-Vilnius route. Everything from buses, cars, connected flights. Ryanair hallelujah!

Don’t say that you’ve never had a discussion with yourself whether to pay more and get a fast flight, or choose the cheap one without any amenities. Well, when you are a startup or a developing business, you’re always putting your budget first. 

I can compare it with cheap flights to Southeast Asia, when you can pick 30 hours flight through Kyiv, or 15 hours flight through Istanbul. You always have a choice.

Cologne

To be honest, I’m not that familiar with the city, only Odonien district and a few bars around the Cologne Cathedral, because whenever we come we go directly to the Pirate Summit.

Each year the hosts build a wooden pirate which greets attendees in the central area. During the day it doesn’t look that impressive, yet at night, when it lights up with fire, pirates show up. ARRRRR 

Also, I’m fascinated by how the artists there bring old cars, electronic devices, and any similar tools back to life. 

It’s like Scrap, but It’s Art

It’s similar when you go to a contemporary art museum and find a piece that looks like a child painted it, but then you look at the price and realize you would have to sell half of your cottage or an apartment in Elektrėnai to afford such an artwork. 

After all, the people who work there are cosmonauts, in the right way.

It might look like disassembled second Golf or Audi 80, but for the artist, it’s the way of creative expression. 

The biggest cosmonaut of all is this guy in front. I talked to him, and he, emotionless, said that the events and thoughts around him help him to create these creatures. 

Flashback to 2018

German Sausages and Brezel

You can do anything for them, so no complaints about catering at the event. 

If you compare it with Latitude or Dmexco, despite the situation, the queue is always going to be too long, and the attitude too slow.

B2B trolley/bus and a meeting point around it. Everything was chill, people were sharing insights about product development, how they are handling marketing strategies, and generating sales and investments.

In the evening, after the final speech, hosts light up the wooden pirate. It feels like at the same time, a thousand pirates are roaring ARRRRR, and you are watching it on a movie set. It looks astonishing, you feel invincible because no one can stop you. 

The pirate burns, whiskey is finished, and all pirates go their ways.

How Was It This Year?

A few insights after the event

I was excited to see what’s new at the Pirate Summit in 2019. After these few days, I was as always pleasantly surprised. Although I missed more professionals from different niches such as hardware, software, or traditional industries, agenda speakers were impressive, and the pitch competition met our expectations. The winner was a plan A startup that encourages communities to push local businesses to participate in the fight against climate change. 

Worth mentioning: at one of the campfires, Kristian from Ciara GmbH was talking why they don’t sell and what they should do to start selling. Lean-case.com discussed how crucial it is to record the company’s processes and follow up with KPI’s. Latvia festival forum emphasized meaningful living and sustainability. 

More About the Exhibition

Although there were many healthcare startups in the exhibition area, we had a great chance to meet significant prospects and generate valuable leads during networking breaks. 

Food and drinks were delicious as always, even though never-ending queues got on our nerves. Despite the fact that the networking app Telque wasn’t as helpful as intended, the internet connection was good and decent enough to do some work during breaks. 

Finally, the evening part was top-notch. Again, there were a burning pirate, orchestra, the final speech which inspires you to evolve and continue growing. To sum up, the vibe and atmosphere were incredible. 

Pros of Our Trip

As I mentioned, a few years ago there were no cheap direct flights to Cologne, this year we found a direct flight Vilnius-Cologne. That was an ultimate victory.

Easy to share experience and network. The event manifest equality among people from different professional backgrounds. It gives the feeling that everyone at the event is VIP. We had an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know one of the most influential people in the market, yet chat and exchange thoughts as old friends. We met with Logitech CEO who shared his experience about the journey through his career. 

Another compelling case was a poker player who had won 32 million USD, he was telling about the obstacles and experiences that led him to where he is now. The most impressive thing is that we were having a drink together and sharing these valuable life lessons. There’s no hierarchy or emotional boundaries that would stop you from talking with people, and that’s what makes the Pirate Summit so exceptional.

However, there were a few things that we didn’t enjoy as much. VC and funds were oriented to the DACH region, especially Germany, and they were mainly looking for early-stage rounds. 

Final Thoughts About the Pirate Summit 2019

This year the location was phenomenal, like every year. It was a museum, perhaps the only place like that in Europe or the whole world. Interesting, hosts asked if we would like to see the event in other cities or countries. They only said if it’s possible to find a place with a similar vibe and energy, then we should move the event.

Other than that, organizers arranged Tier scooters, and you could take one to ride around the area, although the area wasn’t big enough to take a bike. 

However, there were a few issues with excel sheets because investors didn’t have one that would suit everyone. When you need to gauge different evaluations from various stages, it’s essential to have a professional tool that could replace Excel. 

Comparing this year with previous events, on the second day, we went to visit funds and startups. It took approximately 2 hours, during which we discussed the investment situation in Cologne and possible ways to enter the market. 

To answer the question, will I come next year, I definitely say yes. However, now we have to continue with our work and maintain communication with new leads we generated during the event. It’s an excellent opportunity to share ideas, attract new investments, and expedite Tasker’s growth.

Selfie with Founder of Pirate Summit Manuel Koelman

We will meet next year. ARRRRRRR!