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KIT Entrepreneurship Talk – Silicon Valley meets Karlsruhe

Dr. Guido Appenzeller (Quelle: abusix)

Dr. Guido Appenzeller (Source: abusix)

As part of the special event “Silicon Valley meets Karlsruhe,” hosted by Karlsruhe startup abusix, the KIT Entrepreneurship Talk with Dr. Guido Appenzeller took place on May 12, 2015.

Dr. Appenzeller studied physics in Karlsruhe until 1996, writing his thesis at the KIT Institute for Anthropometrics and Robotics (IPR) with Prof. Dr. Dillmann. He then finished his doctoral dissertation in 2005 in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he was also an advisor as a junior professor from 2008 until 2010.

In 2002, Dr. Appenzeller co-founded the company Voltage Security. As CTO, he not only procured the first financing round but also managed to go from zero to profit. In early 2015, Voltage Security was sold to Hewlett Packard for 150 m. USD. The second co-startup of Dr. Appenzeller was Big Switch Networks. As CEO, he was able to attract angel and venture investments amounting to 45 m. USD over the course of three rounds, get the Senior Executive team on board, and grow the company to 75 employees. Today, Dr. Appenzeller is the CTSO for networking and security at VMware. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Karlsruhe startup abusix. Due to this, he was a guest in Karlsruhe on May 12. The event “Silicon Valley meets Karlsruhe” was a joint project of the KIT Founders Forge, the Centers for Entrepreneurship (CIE), CyberForum, PionierGarage, and the IT startup abusix from Karlsruhe, which is now located in Silicon Valley.


What was especially exciting were his insights into the networking of Stanford University with the startup scene in Silicon Valley, his take on alumni work, as well as his brief portrayal of the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Silicon Valley, among others. Legal, accounting, or HR services are typically outsourced from startups. Trust is built among one another through the fact that people know each other across industries. This makes processes that are (still?) very cumbersome in Germany considerably faster. This facilitates the concentration of startups on the essential aspects and reduces their time to market, the decisive factor in the competition over who is able to realize an idea best.

The explanations on dealing with licenses were also exciting. While the process of licensing negotiations is lengthy for newly founded companies even before the first euro of revenue here in Germany, Stanford has a more pragmatic and faster approach to the topic. The university places less weight on optimizing the last euro of a license agreement. Much more, it is about finding the right uses for newly developed technologies and bringing them to the market in order to support the technology in a considerably wider expanse. Ultimately, this also increases the returns for the university through licenses. Thus, Stanford uses the approach of initially making licenses for VC-financed startups free of charge for three months. After receiving VC financing, the license fees are then paid in a so-called pay-as-you-go process, i.e. the license payments of the three preceding (initially free) months are later compensated in the case of a running business. This is an approach that the KIT will surely consider.

After the Entrepreneurship Talk, the monthly founders’ BBQ of the Center for Entrepreneurship took place, hosted by abusix. abusix surprised the startup community in Karlsruhe with a burrito food truck and, thus, brought a little Silicon Valley feeling on campus. This time, approx. 180 people participated in the event – the new record in 64 founders’ BBQ events.


On June 30, 2015, the pioneer of German entrepreneurship, Prof. Dr. Günter Faltin who has been distinguished with the Federal Cross of Merit, will be a guest at the KIT Venture Fest. Due to the incorporation into the Venture Fest, registration is required by June 23, 2015. On July 16, 2015, we look forward to a talk with Tim Stracke, co-founder of Chrono24. He will talk about his startup experiences at the last Entrepreneurship Talk of the summer semester.

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