LeanCamp Berlin – a Review

Organizing big events is always hard work and requires a lot of time. Anyway, today is the the day that all material we gathered during the event has been given a final polish and is ready for being published today! This post aims to help you: the ones who participated, to recap the first LeanCamp in Germany and aims to help those others who were unable to be there experience the energy and success of that event!

What is a “LeanCamp”?

Leancamp is an open space (or unconference if you like) – an open, interactive, multi-track event – which brings together the world’s Lean, Agile and Design-led business leaders, and practitioners from different disciplines. It’s a high-energy day focused on learning and knowledge transfer.
(Quoted from http://leanca.mp/about/)

An unconference is a participant-driven meeting. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.
(Quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference)

Furthermore, a “LeanCamp” can be compared to something like a BarCamp. Those kind of events have not been taking place in Berlin recently; according to T3N the last BarCamp in Berlin was held in 2008! Therefore, it was high time to bring together people from different communities in the German startup scene to lead discussions, and exchange ideas and thoughts. Of course, the focus was centred on lean, agile, UX, bootstrapping, design thinking and business model innovation. We were amazed that we managed to fill all the time slots at the session planning meeting. Various rooms allowed four tracks to be run simultaneously so as to host almost 100 participants on 27th August in the co-working space of Ahoy!Berlin.

Leancamp Berlin Schedule (Morning)

Leancamp Berlin Schedule (Afternoon)

Pictures show the session planning board.

How did it all start?

Since I have been co-organizing the “LeanStartupMeetup” Berlin for quite a while, and have been mentoring at LeanStartupMachine events in London and Rotterdam, it was an entirely logical step to also bring these events to Berlin. After making that decision, it all began with a single tweet to evaluate interest in a LeanCamp in Germany. In other words, I applied lean tactics even whilst organizing the event. After a couple of Skype calls with Salim Virani (founder of LeanCamp),I understood its idea and vision – non-for-profit community-driven event!


(1) Finding a venue

Berlin is offering lots of great places for people to meet. For LeanCamp we were looking for a venue that offered a large room which would serve as hub for the event, and for several session rooms for 30+ people. Moreover, it is important that the venue operators support the idea of LeanCamp which makes the whole organization a lot easier. Another issue we had to face was that LeanCamp took place on a Monday, and on Mondays people are usually working in co-working spaces. Nevertheless, we were able to team up with Ahoy!Berlin that offered a great location and supporting team.

(2) Setting a date and start selling tickets

After the date and venue had been set, we were able to sell the tickets. The idea of LeanCamp is that it can be financed through ticket sales only. Therefore, it was crucial for internal calculations that we sold enough tickets to cover all the fixed costs to make the event happen. Communication via Twitter and Facebookwas heavily used to gain traction. Almost on a day-to-day basis Sal and I were checking the GoogleAnalytics data to see how the conversion evolved. Actually, our conversion was quite good but we needed more traction. Hence, we reached out to local startup communities and event curators to get the word out.

Furthermore, we tried to push ticket sales by a making a teaser video for the event and by cross-promotions with PirateSummit and TechOpenAir Berlin. In the end, we had only 25 days left after announcing that there will be a LeanCamp in Berlin and its taking place.


(3) Getting ambassadors on board

As mentioned above, LeanCamp is not a top-down event. Its true value comes from all the different communities’ contribution to it. Therefore, it was essential to reach out to various communities and networks to help spread the word and find interesting topics that were going to be talked about during the final event via Uservoice.

Whom did we reach out to?

Students – Entrepreneurship students will be next generation’s Entrepreneurs. Therefore, we reached out the the founder’s network of Technische Universität Berlin but also Startup Weekend Airport.

Lean Practitioners – Through the LeanStartupMeetups in Germany and existing contacts, we were able to reach out to that community and get interesting people from various backgrounds on board (e.g. Leanovate, Andreas Klinger, Lukas Fittl, Rob Fitzpatrick and Tor Gronsund).

Agile and UX Community – Those two communities have a lot in common with Lean so it was neccessary to bridge the gap and spark exchange between those communities (e.g. Ruth Rothmaler, Des Traynor, Sebastian Fittko from Relevantive and Olaf Lewitz from Agile42)

Design Thinkers – Through the School of Design Thinking in Potsdam the word was also spread into their network (via Daniel Bartel)

Startups – By reaching out to incubators like YouIsNow and Hub:Raum for more web/tech related startups and deGUT and Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg, we did not only get strong partners that help out making the event great, but also their startups contributed content wise to the event.


How did LeanCamp finally turn out?

(1) Morning

(2) Afternoon

You will find the presentations by Andreas and Sebastian online on Slideshare!

(3) Resumée

From my point of view the first LeanCamp in Germany was a huge success and everybody enjoyed the event.


If you read and liked that blog post so far, I would be very happy if you help spreading the word (by re-tweeting or posting on Facebook) about that amazing event that took place here in Berlin. Finally, I want to thank all the participants, ambassadors and sponsors who helped to make LeanCamp a success. A big thank you to the guys from ThinkTank Productions who did a great job in documenting the event!


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