Day 1 MACHN 2024: Innovation and networking in Leipzig

Series: MACHN Festival
Ein leuchtend violettes Plakat mit dem Logo von MACHN 24, einem Festival für Technologie, Business und Kunst. Der Text "MACHN 24" ist in schwarzen und pinken Buchstaben geschrieben, darunter steht "Festival for Tech, Business & Art" in pinker Schrift. Das Design ist modern und farbenfroh, mit geometrischen Elementen in Pink und Gelb an den Rändern.

On May 29 and 30, 2024, Leipzig's Baumwollspinnerei was once again transformed into the beating heart of the start-up, tech and business scene. Over 2,500 makers and more than 60 inspiring speakers were expected to discover the latest trends and innovations together. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., MACHN 2024 offered a packed program with practical insights from over 65 experts. Whether on the stages, in the workshop areas or in the creative area - there was plenty of input and further training. Of course, we were there again this year. Tommy brings you her impressions.

A bumpy start: missed opportunities

MACHN 2024 promised many exciting insights and inspiring moments, but unfortunately my day got off to a less than smooth start. I arrived at the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei site at 10:08 a.m. full of anticipation, ready to enjoy the festival to the full.
I was particularly excited about my first scheduled talk of the day: "How to produce chills: Neuroscientific Insights on how our Brain reacts to Signals" at 10:30. Still plenty of time, I thought. Unfortunately, the accreditation process threw a spanner in the works. The organization was chaotic and the queue barely moved. Despite my early arrival, I spent almost 80 minutes queuing and waiting for my accreditation. So I not only missed the start of the festival, but also the talk I was so looking forward to. What a shame. But I was determined to make the most of the rest of the day and concentrate on the upcoming talks and workshops.

Eine lange Schlange von Menschen wartet auf dem Bürgersteig einer Straße in Leipzig auf den Zugang zum MACHN 2024 Festival. Viele tragen Rucksäcke und Jacken. Autos fahren an der Straße vorbei, und im Hintergrund sind grüne Bäume zu sehen.

Social Media Kickstart: The Ultimate Framework for Targeted Customer Approach

After a somewhat bumpy start, I was finally able to dive into the fray and take part in the workshop "Social Media Kickstart: The Ultimate Framework for Targeted Customer Approach". Led by Lucia Selbert and Sharon Geißler from Distart, this workshop promised to take our customer approach to a new level.

What do I take away?
  • The creative (image or video) should be the focus, because the copy (text and headline) is usually read last.
  • A clear and concise message for each creative is therefore crucial. Headlines should be short (up to 50 characters). Benefits can be highlighted visually.
  • CTAs and, if required, a location or date should not be missing! - Another highlight of the workshop was the presentation of the Value Proposition Canvas in marketing. Lucia and Sharon showed how to find the right angle for approaching customers based on their pains and gains rather than the product itself. This allows demand clusters to be formed and specific ads to be created.
Eine Frau hält einen Vortrag bei einem Workshop. Sie steht vor zwei Laptops und einem großen Bildschirm, auf dem "Blickverlauf steuern" und "Die beste Flasche der Welt" angezeigt werden. Vor ihr sitzen mehrere Personen und hören aufmerksam zu. Die Veranstaltung findet in einem Raum mit rauen, industriellen Wänden und großen Fenstern statt.

Hacking AI: How AI jeopardizes IT security

Led by Robert Seidel, Research Officer at the Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity, this workshop offered deep insights into the risks that can arise from the use of AI. We worked in small groups on hypothetical scenarios and real-life applications. Each group developed a customized "risk map" as a guideline for the safe use of AI in an area previously determined by them. The whole thing worked in a playful way and, in addition to the learning gain, was also a lot of fun.

What do I take away?
  • A key learning for me was that you can put an AI in front of a second model for intent detection in order to increase the safety of the system. The first AI therefore assesses whether what the second AI receives as a prompt should be used to harm it and/or the system.
  • Equally important was the recommendation to tell the AI to refer to its data set and admit when it doesn't know something. This can help to avoid hallucinations (i.e. inventing plausible-sounding but false data).
  • Another important point was to test several AIs against each other at critical points in order to compare and validate their statements and results. An extremely cool exchange that revealed many new perspectives.
Vier Personen sitzen an einem runden Tisch und unterhalten sich während einer Workshop-Session. Sie wirken entspannt und lachen. Im Hintergrund befindet sich eine Wand mit einem großen Fenster, durch das Tageslicht hereinfällt. Auf dem Tisch liegen verschiedene Papiere und ein Notizbuch. Die Umgebung hat ein industrielles Flair mit rauen Wänden.

From Inventor to Hero: Start-up stories told in a captivating way

Hosted by Wiebke Scheffler from the MDR inventor magazine "Einfach Genial", this presentation offered fascinating insights into the world of inventors and their ideas. The inventor magazine has revised its format - instead of presenters or speakers, the focus is now on the inventors themselves. Their ideas and the lives of people who achieve innovative things are put in the spotlight. The editors often find inspiration and new ideas at competitions or in the start-up scene and use them to create exciting stories.

What do I take away?
  • The focus on the classic hero's journey gives the stories a captivating dramaturgy. Especially on YouTube, a quick intro and teaser play a major role in generating interest.

After the talk, I took a look at the Creative Area. I particularly liked the interactive surveys - and the pizza afterwards.

Zwei Frauen sitzen auf Stühlen vor einem Tisch und halten einen Vortrag. Eine Frau spricht in ein Mikrofon, während die andere zuhört. Hinter ihnen ist ein großer Bildschirm zu sehen, auf dem eine Präsentation mit dem Titel "AUFBAU" und weiteren Inhalten angezeigt wird. Die Umgebung ist schlicht, mit weißen Wänden und einem industriellen Flair.

SPRIND Live Podcast: Innovation Storytelling

The SPRIND Live podcast with Christoph Bornschein, Co-Founder of TLGG, and Thomas Ramge offered a fascinating insight into the art of storytelling for startups. The conversation centered around the importance of storytelling techniques to make progress and innovation exciting and accessible.

What's my takeaway?
  • Christoph Bornschein talked about different narrative variations, including utopian and dystopian approaches. Good storytellers are often people who know how to convey complex developments in an understandable and captivating way.
  • Tech founders in particular, he said, tend to focus on solutions rather than problems, which leads to a negative narrative structure. He also talked about an interesting difference: German culture is more grounded and less boastful in funding requests, while American visions are often bigger but less realistic.
  • My main learning was that visions without clear ideas for the future lead nowhere and that you have to communicate those thoughts to make them understandable. And if you don't feel comfortable on the big stage? Well, then you just write down your ideas - and share them with the world via Twitter/X. You can find the SPRIND podcast here: SPRIND Podcast
Zwei Männer stehen an einem Tisch auf einer Bühne. Beide tragen Mikrofone am Ohr. Der Mann links trägt ein schwarzes T-Shirt mit der Aufschrift "SPRIND", während der Mann rechts ein graues T-Shirt und eine schwarze Jacke trägt. Sie unterhalten sich miteinander und scheinen in eine Diskussion vertieft zu sein. Die Bühne ist in warmem Licht beleuchtet, und die Hintergrundwand hat einen industriellen Look.

From code to emotion: Storytelling as a success strategy in product management

The interactive workshop "From code to emotion: Storytelling as a success strategy in product management" with Helen Rottluff and Anna Hüttner offered valuable insights into the art of storytelling in product development. The participants were given practical questions to develop their own stories:

  • Is the planned story real or fictional? - Is it set in the present, past or future?
  • Who is at the center of the story? User, product, customer or team?
  • Should a basic plot be used (The search, Journey and return, From rags to riches …)?

Finally, we worked in small groups to develop our own stories based on various scenarios. The aim was to motivate people, de-escalate conflicts or influence purchasing decisions. At the end, I got to hear the story of one participant's Levi jeans with the thick seam, which made many people laugh.

What I take away
  • stories appeal to more senses and brain regions than mere facts. While facts only activate the prefrontal cortex, Broca's area and Wernicke's area, stories also reach the olfactory cortex, the visual and motor cortex, the sensory cortex and the limbic system. This makes stories a powerful tool for arousing emotions and conveying information in a sustainable way.
Zwei Frauen halten einen Vortrag vor einem Bildschirm, der die Folie "1 Storytelling als Erfolgsfaktor" anzeigt. Die Folie vergleicht die Gehirnaktivität bei der Verarbeitung von Fakten und Geschichten. Die Frau links trägt eine gemusterte Bluse und spricht gestikulierend, während die Frau rechts lächelnd zuhört. Im Hintergrund ist eine Wand mit großen Fenstern zu sehen, durch die Tageslicht hereinfällt.

Re-Branding: Challenges for brands during relaunch

The presentation "Re-Branding: Challenges for brands during relaunch" with Fränze Schönbrodt from OneCrowd offered a deep insight into the many challenges that a brand relaunch entails. Despite the unexpected rain, which forced us to spend part of the talk under umbrellas, the session was interesting.

What do I take away?
  • A successful re-branding requires a strong commitment at all levels of the company.
  • A clear, viable strategy is essential to guide the process and ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction. Re-branding also costs real money. It is therefore important to discuss and secure financing options at an early stage.
  • Co-creation also plays a major role - it is crucial to find the right partners who have the necessary expertise.
  • Re-branding is not only an opportunity, but also a risk. The brand image is abandoned and rebuilt. This brings with it many challenges.
Ein Bildschirm zeigt eine Präsentation mit dem Titel "Key-Herausforderungen Re-Branding". Die Folie listet fünf Punkte auf: 1. Commitment zum Re-Branding auf allen Ebenen, 2. Eine tragfähige Strategie, 3. Let’s talk about Finanzierungsmöglichkeiten, 4. Co-Creation: find the right Sparringspartner , 5. Bewusstsein: Re-Branding ist nicht nur Chance. Im Vordergrund sitzen Personen, die den Vortrag verfolgen, einige halten Regenschirme. Ein Baumstamm ist auf der rechten Seite des Bildes zu sehen. Die Präsentation findet im Freien statt.

Authentication on the net: News from biometrics, cryptology and social research

Kristin Biegner from the Cyber Agency provided valuable insights into the latest developments and challenges. The aim of the Cyber Agency is to strengthen cyber security and sovereignty in Germany. Secure authentication is essential for this. There are various methods for this: Knowledge (e.g. passwords), possession (e.g. tokens) and biometrics (e.g. fingerprints). However, all systems have advantages and disadvantages.

What do I take with me?
  • One exciting aspect was stimulus-indexed biometrics, such as the use of tones that slide over the finger or arm and are then read out.
  • The idea of universal pattern waves (such as brain and eye patterns) was also discussed, with the hope that biological patterns can be clearly assigned to specific individuals.
  • Another exciting topic was continuous processes in which the cell phone can detect theft, for example, by recognizing a deviating gait of the wearer. These processes are not yet fully developed, but give rise to exciting prospects for the future.
Eine Frau hält einen Vortrag auf der "Innovation Stage" beim MACHN 2024 Festival. Sie spricht in ein Mikrofon und zeigt auf einen Bildschirm mit den Titeln "Mission" und "Vision". Vor ihr sitzt ein Mann und hört zu. Mehrere Personen sitzen im Publikum. Die Bühne hat ein buntes Design mit dem Schriftzug "Innovation Stage". Die Umgebung hat ein industrielles Flair.

Modern team leadership à la Gen Z & Y

The lecture "Modern team leadership à la Gen Z & Y" with Florian Arndt, director and managing director of Sons of Motion Pictures, was another highlight of MACHN 2024. Florian emphasized the importance of appreciative communication and charismatic appearance as a leader. He presented six facets of charisma: Self-confidence, vitality, authenticity, warm-heartedness, presence and inspiration. These characteristics help managers to lead their teams successfully. 52% of Germans are dissatisfied with their superiors. This shows how important it is to give and receive continuous feedback as a manager. Florian put it aptly: "People would rather have bad feedback than none at all. Nobody likes to be ignored." Leadership is not a privilege, but a service.

What do I take away?
  • Florian addressed one topic again and again: Don't treat people the way you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated. Introverts need calm, while extroverts are looking for enthusiasm. Gender differences also play a role - it is important to adapt to the preferences of team members and meet them at eye level without losing yourself.
  • At the end of the day, your work self and your private self are the same person. This is the only way we can be authentic to our team and the outside world.
  • Competitive thinking? Out of place. "My team should be more successful than me. If someone else gets an Oscar before me? Yeah, that's great. Then we'll have two later."

Just like last year, he inspires the audience. The talk can be requested from the Sons of Motion and is an absolute recommendation from me:

Ein Redner in einem blauen Anzug und mit Fliege hält einen Vortrag auf einer Bühne. Hinter ihm zeigt ein Bildschirm die Folie mit dem Text "52% sind unzufrieden mit ihrer Führungskraft" und dem Bild eines Mannes. Im Vordergrund sitzen mehrere Personen im Publikum und hören zu. Die Bühne ist in buntem Licht beleuchtet, und es ist ein industrieller Pfeiler im Bild zu sehen.

Afterwards, the evening enveloped the grounds, even though the sun was still in the sky. The mood slowly changed to one of exuberant togetherness. My day ended to the music of Kelvin Jones on the MACHN Stage. And I was excited for day 2. You too? Then you can already look forward to part 2, which will be published in a few days!

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