"What matters is how online you are”: Five Questions to Marco Rodzynek, Founder of the NOAH Conference
The NOAH conference, the number one industry event for leaders in the European digital ecosystem, hits Berlin on 13th June with 10 verticals, over 400 speakers, 700 investors, 1500 start-ups and over 5000 attendees. On the legendary conference’s 10th anniversary we take the opportunity to talk to NOAH Cofounder Marco Rodzynek about the state of the industry, when marketing doesn’t make sense and the most inspirational NOAH speakers of all time.
You organised the first NOAH conference in 2009 and you have worked in investment banking since 1998. What have been the major changes in M&A in this time?
The big banks used to have the best people. Not anymore. The reputation of bankers has gone down. The players have also changed; the big banks just aren’t as powerful as they once were. The number of deals has gotten smaller and this goes back to the fact that the digital giants are simply too big. Their power is almost absolute. The fact they pay only 1% tax is a disgrace. Politicians don’t understand the digital world so they can’t regulate it. It is outrageous.
So what in your view does the future of M&A look like?
In business, it’s no longer a question of whether you are online or offline; what matters is how online you are. We used to be a digital conference, now we are a growth conference with new verticals in health, education and blockchain. While investors are still interested in offline, the internet is everywhere.
How does one grow an idea like NOAH to the premier digital leaders’ conference it is today?
That is easy to answer: We have a great product. We are not dependent on marketing as we do not need to be. We are a trusted platform for any executive to do business. In our industry no one wants to make the first move, but we take the friction out of transactions and provide the space for these deals to happen. We started offline but with NOAH Connect we have moved online – in fact, here we have been inspired by our speakers. Our product is also unique; there is no equivalent in the USA of the NOAH for example. When going to conferences we recognised that people want to spend most of their time in meetings rather than being lectured to. While a keynote speaker like Al Gore will attract people, it’s never really been about the main stage for us.
NOAH has seen some exceptional keynote speakers since its start. What marks out an inspirational leader for you?
One who constantly questions whether they are on the right path and one who is constantly adjusting and adapting to their environment. One who has a passion for their business. One who is honest: entrepreneurs often only tell you the good things, but investors appreciate hearing about both the ups and downs. One who gives a life to their employees and defines a career path for them. The best speakers we have ever had at the Noah were Travis Kalanick from Uber who is an amazing leader. At NOAH19 Tel Aviv this year, Oren Kaniel from Appsflyer made the best 10 minute pitch of all time.
NOAH hits Berlin on 13th June. What makes the German VC scene so exciting at the moment?
We do a lot for the German ecosystem by bringing together start-ups and investors. German entrepreneurs are very strong, very savvy at marketing and good networkers. We are invested in Germany and Berlin as a location. Our first NOAH in Berlin took plce in 2015 and this year we have an all-new venue: STATION Berlin. In 2020 we will host the NOAH at a new location and this will be an exclusive, invite only event.
Book your place at NOAH19 in Berlin on 13th and 14th June 2019 here.