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Who were the people visiting TOA

Gepost op 26/07/2015
Who were the people visiting TOA15

For the 4th year Tech Open Air (TOA) ( brought together entrepreneurs, intra-preneurs, creatives and many more. TOA’s main location was an old carpet factory in Friedrichshain. As the week progressed TOA took over the city with over 140 satellite events.

Chaotic, indefinitely leading to creativity and innovation

TOA is an unconference (a loosely structured conference). Yes, there were 120 speakers, but no stages, no dull powerpoints and definitely none of us were sitting in rows of chairs in darkened rooms. We tuned into the various talks using headsets or watch the lectures that were broadcast into the open space. Basically you find yourself listening to speakers from a comfy lounge chair, long drink in hand while doing a spot of networking on the side. It was perfect.
In addition to the keynote speeches, there were a bundle of workshops and performances across the week. And for sure TOA doesn’t stop at 6 pm, it reminds me of Silicon Valley. Work hard, play hard. We will sleep when we are dead.

So who are the people visiting TOA? A lovely wide variety of people and I noticed that compare to other startup events (Belgium, London, Silicon Valley) there were a lot of women presented. Let’s meet some of them.

Meet Roni Eshel, founder of goFlow


After 10 years of surfing competitive and traveling around the world searching the perfect waves, Roni came back to her home town in Israel.She got inspired by the tech community in her country. She decided to use a smart technology solution and simple UX (User eXperience) to solve her biggest problem. To never miss a good surf day again. (

About TOA she said: “ TOA is the coolest Tech Conference I’ve been to so far! The locations are so grungy and unique. They brought together so many smart and fun people who work on such amazing things. Overall a unique and fun tech conference experience! Definitely coming back next year.”

Next let’s meet Elaine Warburton

TOA15Elaine breaths healthcare. Her great-uncle, architect of the NHS, believed in an equal access to healthcare. Her Christmas boxes were packed full of equipment to make exciting chemical experiments. Loosing her mum to breast cancer made her even more eager and focused.

She started QuantuMDx, a company that makes highly-portable devices that have the potential to diagnose infectious diseases in a matter of minutes.
It works through reading and sequencing DNA before converting it into binary code using a tiny computer chip, and the potential is there to look at everything from TB to cancer. This will have a huge impact, particularly in developing countries.  (

About TOA she responds: “Unconference perfectly sums up TOA – it’s where bohemian meets cool tech unleashing ideas and innovation and maybe the Next Big Thing”

The paths of Jennifer and Lisa


both working for Production Centre of Excellence at Shell in The Hague. They came to TOA to get inspired and start a revolution at their company.

Their take-away is that startups have a totally different approach to handling issues. “We at Shell sometimes struggle with ‘the old way of working’”. I asked if they had noticed many girls at TOA, they smiled and answered “No clue we only looked at the wide variety of cute guys.”


Say Hi to Marco

TOA15Marco is from Leipzig and is the marketing manager at Basislager Coworking Leipzig. (

His whole team came to TOA to discover the Berlin Startup scene and promote their own upcoming event. TOA inspires Marco but also raises lots of questions. “How do you get international speakers? Is there a language barrier in my town?” Marco had such a happy vibe and for sure noticed and enjoyed all the extra little details that made TOA special.


Long time friends Louis-Felix and Christina

Let’s meet the Canadians. Who wouldn’t love those guys? Louis-Felix, transform businesses at f. & TOA15co (, Christina is the founder of The Makers Nation (
How cool is this: they are long time friends meeting up at TOA while traveling around Europe. Felix came to TOA with no agenda. He loved the fact that it is small but has an international crowd and the environment makes it easy to meet new people. Christina pointed out that unconference really worked well. “People don’t want to sit in a dark room, look at PowerPoint and have 15 min coffee breaks in between.” And Felix also happened to notice that TOA has a sizeable female audience, “Good for the senses and it helps to give me this vacation feeling” he answers smiling.


Startup girl Nora and corporate girl Svetlana

TOA15Nora, entrepreneur and founder of Radbonus and Svetlana, project manager entrepreneurship at Deutsche Bank. Nora was at TOA to network and get feedback on her startup. Svetlana was on the look out for interesting startups.
Both agreed that bringing entrepreneurs, investors, corporate and the academic world together really works at TOA. Svetlana pointed out that despite the fact that there were many girls at the event, she would have loved to see more girls in the VC speed-dating event.


Benjamin and Ritesh backed TOA from the start on

Benjamin founder of and Ritesh, manages a school (3-16 years) in India. Both are good TOA15friends with Nikolas (the founder of TOA) and were  enjoying the festival without any particular mission. “We can sit, talk, eat and listen without any stress. The perfect way to enjoy TOA.”

Benjamin noticed that Berlin has changed over the last years as it is getting more established in the entrepreneurial world and more connected globally.
TOA attracts more corporates and investors, which is great. Ritesh enjoyed the lecture of Dr. Soumyadip Rakshit, Founder and CEO MysteryVibeit (, “It was lovely to see a real star so up-close”.


TOA15, the mishmash it should be

So to conclude, everyone loved TOA’s unconference. They created the right atmosphere, thanks to their eye for detail, combined with a talent for drawing quality speakers which in turn draws a quality crowd! TOA has found its unique formula that guarantees success.

I think entrepreneurial Berlin is booming! Tech incubators and accelerators are blossoming and were the key part of the established ecosystems of New York, Boston and Silicon Valley.
The energy in Berlin’s emerging tech sector feels very much like New York did five years ago, before its ecosystem was fully developed. With a little more time, Berlin could find itself in a similar situation, and serving as a model for sustainable startup ecosystems throughout Europe.

Chris De Backer

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