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STARTUP
Academy
become a better founder
We searched for awesome founders, investors and CEOs who are keen to share their knowledge with you. If you're a founder or simply just interested in the world of startups, you have to attend this stage - you will leave with a head full of ideas to take your company to the next level. Or you will instantly feel the urge to start your own business...
Day 1
Become a negotiation expert
We are proud to exclusively partner with the Schranner Negotiation Institute and announce the Bits & Pretzels Schranner Negotiation Academy at #bits18!

Matthias Schranner is an expert when it comes to negotiating: As a former drug enforcement agent and hostage negotiator, he has experienced thousands of negotiations where the lives of people or businesses were at stake.

Last year, Matthias Schranner's speech on "How to negotiate venture deals" got the highest rating from you, our attendees. We noticed, negotiated hard (meta pun intended) and are excited to announce that this year we will have a full day of hands-on negotiation workshops at Bits & Pretzels 2018! Topics like "How to Negotiate Exit Deals" or "How to Negotiate High-Value Partnerships" will be tailored to young founders as well as longterm entrepreneurs. It's a must-attend for everyone who is confronted with important negotiations on a regular basis.

All negotiation training sessions will be exclusive at the event for the Bits & Pretzels attendees.
How to Negotiate Venture Deals
Matthias Schranner
Ex-Hostage Negotiator, CEO
Schranner Negotiation Institute

Matthias Schranner has experienced thousands of negotiations where the lives of people or businesses were at stake. A former drug enforcement agent and hostage negotiator, he was trained by the German police and the FBI for the most difficult negotiations. As the founding CEO of Schranner Negotiation Institute based in Zurich, New York and Hong Kong, he now supports the UN, global corporations, and political parties worldwide.

How To Negotiate with Corporates: 3 Essentials for Start-ups
Dr. Rudolf Freytag
CEO
Siemens Technology Accelerator GmbH

Rudolf Freytag is CEO of Siemens Technology Accelerator GmbH and responsible for commercialization of Siemens technologies via start-up foundation, sale or licensing. Prior to that from 1992 to 2007 he hold various management positions in Germany and the US, e.g. Vice President of the Angiography and X-Ray business. Rudolf holds a Ph.D. in Physics and a Bachelor in Business Administration.

How to Survive Insolvency
Dr. Charlotte Schildt
Laywer/Partner
CMS Hasche Sigle

Charlotte Schildt is an (international) insolvency and insolvency proceedings expert with special expertise in the banking sector and restructuring matters. Since 2008, she has regularly taken on a lead role in cross-border bank insolvency proceedings.   She joined CMS in 2007 and has been a partner since 2014.

How to Negotiate Exit Deals
Benjamin Günther
Founder
ALASCO

Benjamin recently started his second company, ALASCO, with two former co-founders.  Before that, he co-founded Stylight and sold it to ProSiebenSat1 for 80 mio EUR in 2016. He is also an investor and board member of Personio - the HR operating system.

How to Negotiate for Social Change
Felix Finkbeiner
Founder of the youth and children's initiative
Plant-for-the-Planet

At the age of 9, Felix Finkbeiner developed the idea to fight climate crisis by planting trees. With the support of many children he launched the initiative Plant-for-the-Planet in 2007 . So far, over 67,000 children in 66 countries have been trained in Plant-for-the-Planet Academies. As climate justice ambassadors, they give speeches to adults, pressure them to act and fight for their future.

How to Negotiate High-Value Partnerships
Alexander Rittweger
Entrepreneurial Investor, Founder of PAYBACK
Rittwegeroffice

Started PAYBACK, the world´s largest coalition loyalty scheme with over 80 million active members. Sold to Amex in 2015 in a deal that valued the company at over 1 billion €. Presently involved in Aloha (New York based protein food startup) and AppCard (New York based digital marketing and payments platform for independent grocers in the US)

Day 2
Become a better leader
Enjoy 30-minute lectures on problems that founders and executives usually face in their day-to-day work. Learn from the experiences and mistakes of our speakers and use the chance to ask them your questions during the Q&A-sessions following the lectures.
How to build market leaders in competitive markets
David Kuczek
General Partner
HV Holtzbrinck Ventures Adviser GmbH

David has been at HV Holtzbrinck Ventures since 2006, where he was instrumental in HV’s investment in Westwing, one of the leading home and living shops worldwide. He was an early believer in the long-distance bus market in Germany and initiated HV’s investment in FlixBus. Besides that, David has been responsible for the fund’s investments in Studitemps, Kiveda, Lecturio and Urban Sports Club etc.

How to write the script for the future
Joel Spolsky
Co-Founder and CEO
Stack Overflow

Joel Spolsky is CEO and co-founder of Stack Overflow, the most trusted developer resource on the Internet, serving more than 50 million programmers each month. Joel is a serial entrepreneur and world-renowned speaker, who has written several books on IT and programming. With a Computer Science degree from Yale University himself, Spolsky understands the work and life of programmers like no other.

How to conquer the USA (– marketwise or in regards of access to VC)
Frank Gasparo, Friedemann Thomma, Jim Nelson
Partner, Partner, Partner
Venable
From Start-up to NASDAQ: How young tech companies challenge an IPO
Axel Hefer
CFO
trivago

As CFO Axel Hefer played a key role during trivago’s IPO in 2016. Founded in Düsseldorf in 2005, trivago has developed from a start-up into one of the most successful German tech companies and the world's largest hotel search with 52 platforms in 33 languages. Before trivago, Axel was CFO and COO of Home24 AG, a leading online provider of furniture and home accessories in Europe and Latin America.