„The upside of Ava is gigantic. What started as a simple idea to use state-of-the-art wearable sensor technology to give women better insight into their cycles (and thus make becoming pregnant easier) is now in full swing to blaze the trail for a femtech industry. While sleeping, the Ava bracelet sensors collect data on seven different physiological parameters. This data not only helps predict more fertile days very accurately per cycle, but will also hopefully enable Ava to be used as non-hormonal contraception method in the future. In addition, the ecosystem that can be built by giving women individualised feedback on their body and how it reacts toward various environmental stimuli (sleep cycles, dieting, medication, job change, etc.) is groundbreaking and in terms of its business potential simply off the chart.“
- Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
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Philipp Baumgaertel
Founder, Cherrydeck
„Philipp is the visionary founder of Cherrydeck, the yellow pages for Instagram. I like his visual style, the way he approaches challenges and his general view on the global tech scene. His creativity never stops and he continues to search for more.“

- Teja Töpfer, Facelift brand building technologies
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Henry Blodget
Editor-in-Chief, Business Insider
“The media landscape is changing. More than ever before, media companies are under enormous pressure to push their products forward and to position their brands for the next chapter of digital transformation. However, it is important not to lose the journalistic DNA. Henry Blodget demonstrates how to do both, consistently foster innovation and develop a journalistic product with a digital footprint.”

- Knut Döring, Media Impact
“Bunch.ai gives distributed, high-growth companies instant insights on their team culture. It integrates directly through public Slack channels and MS Teams to show helpful metrics on how the team is communicating. Their product uses NLP to map words and phrases and with this, companies can effectively reduce misunderstandings and increase collaboration. The scientific model has been validated by over 1500 companies, among them forward-thinking companies like N26, Digital Ocean, as well as innovative corporates like BASF.”

- Marius Schulze, Makers.do

Disclosure: Marius Schulze has invested in Bunch.
Andrea Bury
Social Entrepreneur

„Andrea Bury is a social entrepreneur who founded her first social fashion brand, called Abury, in 2011. Driven by the vision to reduce poverty in developing countries and to save traditional craftsmanship skills, Andrea is currently working on the first multi-stakeholder initiative to establish an inclusive business model for the global handicraft market. “Design meets Craft” is an innovative collaboration, e-learning and sales platform for artisans and designers worldwide that uses blockchain technology to create a professional, transparent, fair and secure business environment.”

- Frank Schmidt, Ledavi Network
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Mike Cannon-Brookes
Co-Founder, Atlassian

„I am intrigued by Atlassian`s growth to over 80,000 institutional customers with millions of users in an under-the-radar way. While the enterprise sector is not the most „sexy“, Mike Cannon-Brookes has shown that there is a lot of innovation potential in „boring“ sectors. Atlassian has created a successful business model with almost no sales people and has maintained a startup culture even with 3,000+ employees. This may sound simple in theory, but is actually very hard to execute in reality. It is inspiring to see how Mike Cannon-Brookes has managed to pull this off and how he has created exceptional growth for Atlassian.“

- Norman Hartmann, Aquila Capital & AQX Technologies
Petra von Crailsheim
Board Member, Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden

„Petra von Crailsheim is a board member at Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden, the largest mutual bank in Eastern Germany, where she is driving digital transformation. Instead of holding off fintech startups, Petra cooperates with them and supports the development of new business models through design thinking. She also initiated the first crowdfunding platform that is run by mutual banks („99 Funken"). Petra is active in the Saxon art scene and serves on the board at several highly renowned art institutions in Dresden. Last but not least, she is an honest person, always helpful and open-minded. Petra has impressed for me for a long time.”

- Eric Romba, lindenpartners
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Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets
„NBA superstar Kevin Durant does not shy away from challenges. In 2016 he left the Oklahoma City Thunder after 9 seasons and joined the Golden State Warriors. His move was received negatively by fans and media, but it paid off. He won two NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards in the Bay Area and became a regular guest in Silicon Valley, spending time with A-list venture capitalists and investing in Lime, Postmates and Robinhood. Then last summer, Durant moved to New York to play for the Brooklyn Nets. A new team with no real track record, but another opportunity to chase a challenge, which is what Kevin Durant does. He is a 360-degree person with a responsive and inquisitive mind, yet humble - all values I truly admire.“

- Dirk Staudinger, Circle Culture Consulting & Circle Culture
Sir James Dyson
Inventor & Founder, Dyson
„British designer and entrepreneur James Dyson is an example of how one person with a great idea and a strong belief can change a whole industry. It took Dyson over ten years and more than 5,000 prototypes, but he finally came up with a model for a vacuum cleaner that works without a dust bag. This initial idea, as tiny as it seems, has made him a billionaire, but Dyson keeps improving products: fans and hair and hand dryers. If a true, mission-driven inventor like James Dyson announces that his company is now developing an electric car, there is a very good chance he won’t come up with yet another me-too product, but with a solution that will be original and pioneering.“

- Christian Cohrs, Business Punk
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Danilo Maldonado Machado „El Sexto“
Artist & Activist

„El Sexto's drive is contagious and his mind is an explosion of creativity. He is a man with a clear mission in life: To fight for freedom in Cuba. What amazes me the most is his power to move people's hearts and minds with his drawings. Those are mostly abstract masterpieces and graffitis that portray the sorrows of his community. El Sexto has been imprisoned several times in Cuba, but he stays true to his values and beliefs and his determination to take action - unlike many people at this moment in time. El Sexto is a big inspiration.“

- Sabela García Cuesta, WeWork Labs
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Trevor Evans
Founder, Stream Time
„ I am inspired by the way Trevor comes up with tools that help make our digital life more convenient and comfortable and that provide customized information we would not find without these tools. I admire Trevor's modest personality and his calm yet speedy way to bring his brilliant ideas to life.“

- Florian Brem, Buse Heberer Fromm
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Cyrill Gutsch
Founder, Parley for the Oceans

„Cyrill Gutsch founded Parley for the Oceans to provide a collaboration network where creators, thinkers and leaders can come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate to end their destruction. Parley develops products that contribute to sustainable development and has created „Ocean Plastic“, a range of premium materials for the sports, fashion and luxury industries made from upcycled plastic debris collected on high seas, beaches and in remote coastal communities.“

- Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer, Circle Culture & Circle Culture Consulting, Arts & Nature Social Club
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André Hennen
Co-Founder, HalloFreelancer

„André Hennen is a jack of all trades. He started his career in advertising in 2005 as a copywriter and won 150 awards at international advertising festivals Cannes Lions, ADC and OneShow. In 2014, he got a cruise ship to play "Seven Nation Army" with ship horns (Jack White called it "The best idea ever" on Conan O'Brien). André´s website is connected live to his heart rate and movements. His book about freelancing, employment and company foundation was in the Top 10 bestselling career books on Amazon for almost a year. And in 2017 he founded HalloFreelancer, a B2B SaaS business that is now part of XING.”

- Matthias Wagener, Vast Forward
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Jeremy Howard
Founding Researcher, fast.ai

„Jeremy is both a brilliant data scientist and entrepreneur. Given all the hype, Jeremy makes machine learning uncool, i.e., more accessible and easily applicable to everyone. Having created several successful data-driven businesses and served as president of the Kaggle artificial intelligence competitions, Jeremy knows how to turn data into business value. He understands qualified data scientists are scarce. With fast.ai Jeremy promotes a cost-efficient machine learning approach that requires less training and prior knowledge. This dramatically broadens the scope of artificial intelligence applications and changes the way business is being done in many industries.“

- Prof. Dr. Mark Heitmann, University of Hamburg
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Joanne Kamens 
Executive Director, Addgene

„Joanne Kamens is the Executive Director of Addgene, a mission-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping scientists around the world share plasmid reagents. She serves on many nonprofit boards and has been an advocate for diversity and equity in science for more than 20 years. She founded the Massachusetts chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and is Director of Mentoring for the Boston chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA). In the patent-dominated world of pharma, Joanne is also fully dedicated to bring innovative technologies such as CRISPR to academia and raise a new generation of bioengineers.“

- Giulio Barth, McKinsey & Co
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Bruno Major


„For his album „A Song for Every Moon“ Bruno Major challenged himself to write, record & release one song every month for a year. This is clever because it provides a framework and structure for one's own work. At the same time, it follows the law of continuation – almost like a cliffhanger - and invites the audience to be part of the process. Moreover, Bruno Major manages to place his music, which is deeply rooted in the last century, in today's zeitgeist through his signature sound. His music sounds equally traditional, modern and timeless.“

- Henrik Menzel

Dr. Brigitte Mohn
Member of the Supervisory Board, Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

“Brigitte Mohn is an active early stage investor. Aligned with her strong commitment to social innovation, her own company “Sunrise Capital” supports startups such as Clue, Giving Way and Trendiamo or within the industry holding “econnext” e.g. Flaxtec and Lumenion GmbH to pursue their social and sustainable driven missions. As a globally thinking woman, she was investing in Impact First Investments - Israel’s first venture capital fund with a global claim to social impact. She played a decisive role in the establishment of the independent Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), a successor of former G8 Taskforce for Social Impact Investment under UK presidency. Within the lifetime of her work in the Bertelsmann Foundation she co-founded the social businesses e.g. “Phineo”, “Weisse Liste” and “Zivilgesellschaft in Zahlen”. She believes in supporting innovative and young entrepreneurs. In doing this, she also contributed to establish a startup ecosystem in her home region Ostwestfalen-Lippe in Germany.””

- Sanja Stankovic, Hamburg Startups
Elon Musk
Founder & CEO, Tesla & SpaceX

„Choosing an inspiring person in my field, the mobility sector, is a no-brainer. Since the days of Henry Ford, Armand Peugeot and Gottlieb Daimler, nobody has influenced the car industry as much as Elon Musk. I met Elon 10 years ago and then again in 2015 and I was positively shocked by his way of thinking. When he talked about the future, his vision and descriptions were so precise and prophetical, that there was no room for doubt. It seemed as if Elon was writing a history of the future. And indeed, Elon has proven that he has the ideas, the skills and the determination to revolutionize industries. His maxim is Abraham Lincoln´s famous quote: The best way to predict the future is to create it.“

- Patrice Meignan, TheArsenale
Adii Pienaar
Founder, Conversio & WooThemes 

„Adii Pienaar is building apps that are loved by tens of thousands of small and medium enterprises around the world. After selling WooThemes to Automattic (the company behind WordPress) in 2015, Adii is building his new company Conversio fully based on culture and talent and has decided to work with a remote team due to the lack of competitive talent in South Africa. His team is based in 10 countries and has achieved profitability in only 18 months. Adii is a well-rounded, inspiring and creative person, he is full of energy and has a will of steel.“

- Manuel Koser, Silvertree Internet Holdings
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Trey Ratcliff
„I admire how Trey Ratcliff has become the “world´s most popular photographer”. Not so much because of his always surprising images, but because of his fun, egoless, innovative and open personality. Trey has built an online following of over 16 million people in less than ten years with no formal training as a photographer. He is selling fine art prints for the price of supercars, while also offering free photowalks for amateur photographers around the world. I know many people who are crazy successful, but only a handful who are inspiring even beyond their actual craft. Trey Ratcliff is the guy who I’ve been trying to be more like for almost 10 years now - he is a true inspiration.“

- Peter Gorges, UJAM
Rafael Rozendaal
Visual Artist

„Rafael Rozendaal is a Dutch-Brazilian visual artist who works in New York. He is well known for his artistic moving images and websites and he was one of the first artists who sold websites as art objects. Rozendaal also came up with the idea for the global BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) platform, he developed the „Finger Battle“ app game and he organized a large projection project on Times Square („Midnight Moment“). Rafael Rozendaal is an idea, technology, startup, company, product, app and art piece in one person.“

- Erik Kessels, KesselsKramer
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El-P & Killer Mike
Run The Jewels

„I have been very inspired by El-P & Killer Mike of Run The Jewels. They are close friends and I have collaborated with them on many projects. They have a vision for the untrue and have been outspoken on many topics. Their following is a bright and young generation that is very mindful. Run The Jewels have been innovators in the tech realm too, creating new and unique experiences with VR & AR. They have top notch futuristic visual campaigns and are on the cutting edge of what's happening. I think El-P and Killer Mike are where the future is headed and I'm proud to call them my friends and family.“

- Jordan Asher "BOOTS"
Rolf Schrömgens
Founder, Trivago

„Rolf Schrömgens has built one of the biggest travel sites in Europe with more than 100 million hotel searches annually through a culture that is focused on developing great products, building a strong brand and promoting partner businesses. In December 2016 Trivago became the first German startup on the NASDAQ stock exchange.”

- Jens Nolden, Technology Return
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Tony Seba
Author “Clean Disruption” & Co-Founder RethinkX


„As far as energy, transportation and sustainability go no one in recent time has inspired me more than Tony Seba. Tony is a visionary beyond belief and the main driving force why I started "5th Element", one of my latest projects. Instead of endlessly watching his videos on YouTube, I would love to meet Tony one-on-one and learn everything he has to teach - and, if I’m allowed to dream big, have him as a board member at 5th Element. I believe Tony Seba is one of the key figures who will help preserve the planet for our children to inherit.“

- Morten Lund, Artist & Investment Banker


Soundtrack Your Brand

„I am fascinated by continued opportunities in areas that have not been digitized yet. Of course, I still think a lot about music and one company that is particularly interesting is Soundtrack Your Brand. The founders, coming from Spotify and Beats Music, had discovered that background music for retail was still based on CDs, satellite feeds and manual sales. They set out to build the category winner for B2B music and streaming. Even more interesting is that they have a scientifically proven curation model that helps businesses increase sales by more than 9 %.“

- Chris Barton, Shazam 


Laura Stachel
Co-Founder & Executive Director, We Care Solar



„Our world is hanging upside down but there are great people with unique concepts and willpower who want to make it better. We Care Solar provides free solar power to people who suffer from no or too little energy in critical moments when they most need light and electricity. Laura´s initiative is adorable and has deeply touched and inspired me. We Care Solar deserves more awareness and support.“

- Thorsten König, Miracle Music


Sebastian Steudtner
Big Wave Surfer


„Going 70 km/h down a moving mountain requires extraordinary talent, absolute determination, a strong work ethic and constant preparation. Sebastian trains all year round with Professor Dr. Djukic, one of the most renowned sports scientists in Europe, he designs his own special surfboards, he is a student of waves and has developed the Nazaré safety plan with the help of Dr. Axel Haber, a German Naval Doctor. Sebastian has shown how to become one of the best and most respected surfers in the world – without being born at the sea.“


- Steffen Roth, Makulo

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Peter Thiel
Co-Founder, PayPal, Founders Fund & Palantir Technologies


"After being praised for his brilliant book „Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future“ in 2015, legendary founder, investor and PayPal Mafia member Peter Thiel was heavily criticized for his support of Donald Trump and Hulk Hogan´s legal case against (now defunct) Gawker Media. As a contrarian, Thiel doesn't shy away from debates, but it would be a mistake to assume that Thiel seeks the limelight like other celebrities. He funded Hogan´s lawsuit to stop Gawker´s ongoing invasion of privacy rights ("I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations“) and backed Donald Trump to initiate real breakthrough technologies in Washington. For Thiel, monopolies and groupthink stifle public discourse and real innovation, which we desperately need if we want to save our planet - and us."

- Slaven Marinovic, Savvy Awards


Tim von Törne
Kopernikus Automotive


“Tim von Törne, the founder of Kopernikus Automotive, is working on a bridge technology with a very unusual twist: the company is developing a retrofit kit for regular cars to convert them into self-driving cars. Being a true lateral thinker, Tim is bypassing automotive manufacturers altogether and applying agile techniques to speed up the product development process. This is a company to watch and to invest in.”

- Daniel Raschke, picalike

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Pablo Vargas
Fintech Mogul-turned-Artist

„Pablo is a true visionary and role model with his various accomplishments in both the fintech and the art world. He is well known for “The Mayan Warrior”, a stunning multimedia arts vehicle which first visited Burning Man in 2012. His latest creation is „Illumina“, an interactive light and sound sculpture powered by participants' collective heart. The fusion of technology, the human heartbeat and art creates an overwhelming sensorial and beautiful experience. Pablo is celebrated by everyone who works for him, for his outstanding leadership skills and personality.“

- Olivia Steele, Steele The Show


Maximilian Viessmann
Group Co-CEO, Viessmann Group


„Almost every established corporation struggles with digitalization. Many talk about it, few understand what it means for their business and only a very small number of managers proactively uses digitalization as a new growth opportunity. One of them is Max Viessmann, board member at Viessmann Group, one of the world´s leading manufacturers of heating systems. Max has initiated multiple programs to digitalize the organization internally and to cooperate with startups (e.g. through company builder Wattx and VC firm Vito Ventures). Max Viessmann is a role model both for young and experienced entrepreneurs. He shows how to embrace and utilize digitalization, even in an old-fashioned industry.“

- Ruben Haas, Comgy


Emily Weiss 
Founder, Glossier & Into the Gloss


„Morning rituals standing in front of a mirror is how I first became aware of founder Emily Weiss. I had no claim to the rituals or the mirror but was merely an admirer of her blog In The Gloss, and not too much later, her company Glossier. Focusing on a minimal, pared-down aesthetic with a very utilitarian choice of typeface the Glossier brand is one that feels familiar. This innate sense of familiarity can be attributed to Emily’s approach in founding a beauty company that is very much of the Zeitgeist; a millennial that moved away from a role in reality television to gaining first-hand experience from the hair and make-up teams on photo shoots for Condé Nast. Emily Weiss is one of those rare founders that understands the value of listening to the community to build a product for and of the people and why I look forward to seeing where Emily takes Glossier next.“

- Jeremy Tai Abbett, Creative Evangelist

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Philipp Westermeyer
Founder, Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR)


„Philipp Westermeyer has created a fresh, modern and personal event and content platform in a mostly dry and emotionless industry, where many traditional industry fairs and events struggle. OMR delivers online marketing news and know-how in a fun and entertaining way (often with guests from the world of music, e.g. Metallica´s Lars Ulrich) and has further established Hamburg as an important digital hub. Being from Hamburg, this makes me very proud.“

- Holger Pütting, NEST ONE