Why you need to know about START Summit 2021

The European start-up conference START Summit will be taking place entirely online this year, bringing young innovators and industry leaders together for an all-inclusive event.

If you’re a young entrepreneur, tech innovator, or just a business enthusiast, you may want to check out START Summit, a student-run European conference that takes place in March every year and offers unique career opportunities for young people.

START Summit typically takes place in mid-March but will be going entirely digital this year due to the pandemic and social distancing restrictions.

A variety of events are on offer, including ‘START Campfire’ chats with entrepreneurs and tech industry leaders, a randomized short-form talk with other attendees via ‘Roulette’, and a pitching competition in front of big brands and businesses. Speakers are also giving presentations with further information and insight, as well as masterclasses, speeches, and workshops. Plus, there’s even a START Hack competition for the computer-savvy among you.

Sound good? Here’s a clip from 2019’s event if you’re in need of a taster.

What is happening for START Summit this year?

We spoke to Lucas Gericke, a Public Relations and Editorial employee for START Global, about the ins and outs of START Summit, including his favourite events, how to get involved yourself, and why you should give START Summit a shot.

He was quick to mention the three core pillars at the heart of the initiative, which are to ‘inspire, learn, and network’, but also noted that the experience is useful for both young business enthusiasts and veteran investors alike.

‘You can get exposure for yourself or for your company, scout for new start-ups to invest in, look for new talent, and if something really fits then negotiations can start right there.’

START Summit’s virtual hackathon, in which teams collaborate on a project within 36 hours as a competitive ‘marathon’, is also a key part of this year’s event.  It will all be online instead of in person this year, of course.

Lucas says that the intention is to ‘merge technology and business, encouraging exchange between the two backgrounds’. It’s hoped that the conference will inspire new conversation and perspectives to mix, generating fresh ideas that would otherwise be missed. Diversity is key when looking for inspiration, after all.

We were also eager to know what Lucas personally recommends as the essential events of START Summit. He promptly pointed to the ‘finals of the pitching competition’. This is where attendees show their ideas and prototypes to big investors and brands, with ample opportunity for exposure.

‘I think seeing the best of all these new ideas, presenting them, it’s all very connected to the purpose of the whole event. It’s super interesting to see what they bring to the table. I’m always surprised to see what new things young people come up with!’

He also describes the speaker line up this year as ‘exceptional’, which includes a huge range of talent from different backgrounds. One that Lucas highlights in particular is Michael Seibel, co-founder of the streaming platform Twitch. ‘He would be my personal recommendation for Saturday, and I’m sure most Gen Zers will know his work!’

We also asked Lucas about START Summit’s biggest achievements to date. He mentioned the event’s impressive growth since its 1997 launch. ‘We went from 150 to 3000 attendees in 2019.’

The quick turnaround to accommodate social distancing practices has also been a challenge. ‘For this year, we’ve managed to build an online platform and create a fully virtual event in a matter of months. That’s a big thing for us.’

How can I get involved?

If all this sounds right up your street, you can visit the START Summit website and get directly involved here.

The virtual event lasts five days, and will take place from the 22nd to the 27th March 2021. All types of ticket are available, including a base online ticket, a student plus ticket, as well as founder and investor options. You can check out the official ticket page here.

The ‘Virtual Hackathon’ will take place between the 19th to the 21st March 2021, and you can apply here.

So, if you’ve ever fancied yourself a start-up guru, or reckon you’ll wind up the next Elon Musk, why not jump in? Anyone can get involved this year – and you’ll meet plenty of new people and pick up new skills.


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