Sports Business // 09/26/2023

ISPO Brandnew meets Bits & Pretzels: Full start-up power at the Founder Festival!

Sarina Scharpf

Successful companies, innovative start-ups and numerous investors looking for investment opportunities - the Founder Festival Bits & Pretzels came back to Munich! Renowned international founders shared their experiences for two days and gave you an insight into the business world. Also present: ISPO Brandnew!

ISPO for full Sports power at Bits & Pretzels 2023

From September 24 to 26, 2023, 5,000 insiders from the startup scene, top brands and celebrities met at the ICM Congress Center and Oktoberfest - and ISPO brought the topic of sports to the stage for you!

In addition to renowned guests such as Nathan Blecharczyk, Robert Habeck, Oliver Kahn, Cathie Wood and Verena Pausder, as well as exciting keynotes, there were various workshops and panel discussions on several stages at Bits & Pretzels 2023. The heart of the festival: the Bits & Pretzels Stage. This stage has already hosted some of the world's most prominent speakers, for example Barack Obama, Jessica Alba, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Arianna Huffington. This year's definite highlight: Michelle Obama!

Also a must-see: the Pitch Competition, where aspiring newcomers presented their products and services and pitched their way from the preliminary rounds to the playoffs and the grand finale. They were judged by an international VC jury.

The exhibition area at the ICM was also worth a visit. With more than 100 start-up booths, it was the ideal place for brands, investors and potential collaboration partners to network. The matchmaking area was even more personal. Here, visitors had the chance to make valuable contacts with the help of speed dating sessions and a professional matchmaking team. In addition, the Bits & Pretzels app made it possible to get to know all the start-ups via chat. 

The absolute networking highlight: The startup scene spent the third day at the Oktoberfest to celebrate and connect. The Table Captains were there as well. Table captains can be founders, investors, executives or journalists. In any case, they are experts in the world of startups. Table members could participate in two 45-minute discussions and be inspired by the most innovative minds in the start-up world.

What is ISPO Brandnew?


ISPO has been awarding prizes to the most promising newcomers in the sports and outdoor industry since 2000. And with success: former award winners, including GoPro, Naish Kites, Maloja, Nixon, and On, are shaping the market today.

Every year, a jury of experts from the fields of sustainability, design, quality, functionality, and technology selects the ISPO Brandnew Winners.

Present your start-up and your vision at the largest international platform for sports, ISPO Munich 2023, from November 28 to 30, 2023!

Register now

ISPO Brandnew Convention: Start-up Business Meets Sport

"Unlocking Success in the Sports Startup Ecosystem through new perspectives" - this was the theme of the ISPO Group's inspiring journey into the world of sports entrepreneurship. On Monday, 25 September, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, Tobi Gröber, Head of ISPO Group, and Christoph Rapp, International Sales & Retail Manager ISPO Group, spoke on the Blue Stage. They showed synergies between sports and start-ups and gave exciting insights into the dynamic world of sports start-ups. 

Also present: the two ISPO Brandnew winners Maloja and Micro, whose visionary founders Klaus Haas and Merlin Ouboter shared their success stories on the stage and gave you valuable experiences.

Here is an overview of the most exciting speakers at the ISPO Brandnew Convention:

1. Klaus Haas, Co-Founder & CEO Maloja Clothing GmbH

From Rimsting to the world: Maloja founders Peter Räuber and Klaus Haas used to sit in an office in a former stable, but today the brand shows what an international success story can look like. At the Founder Festival, Klaus Haas tells how the sportswear brand from the foothills of the Alps in Upper Bavaria conquered the world and what stumbling blocks they overcame along the way.

"ISPO Brandnew played a major role in the first chapter of the Maloja success story, alongside Passion. Young companies benefit from the attention, the application disciplines and motivates. Everything is geared towards finishing among the best." - Peter Räuber, Maloja, ISPO Brandnew Winner 2005

Klaus Haas was not only Speaker on Monday - he was also Table Captain at the Oktoberfest!

Klaus Haas and Peter Räuber are the managing directors of Maloja.
Klaus Haas and Peter Räuber are the managing directors of Maloja.

2. Merlin Ouboter, Co-Founder Microlino AG

20 years ago, Wim Ouboter revolutionized the scooter business. Today, his sons Merlin and Oliver Ouboter continue the success of the Micro brand. In 2013, they launched the first e-scooter, creating the basis for an exploding product segment. Today, they inspire with a level-up in mobility: the Microlino small electric car. How Micro made it to this success, what role ISPO Brandnew played in it, and what the founders learned on their journey, Merlin Ouboter told on stage at the ISPO Brandnew Convention.

3. Faris Al-Sultan, Ironman World Champion

He is one of the best German triathletes: Faris Al-Sultan. In 2005 he won his first Ironman and many more victories followed. Today he is active as a coach and trainer and as such led Patrick Lange to Ironman victory twice.

Together with Klaus Haas and Merlin Ouboter, the experts will discuss what it takes to be successful in a panel discussion.

4. Tobias Bosch, Mental Coach

Of course, there was more in store for the participants of Bits & Pretzels at the ISPO Brandnew Conference: the interactive workshop "Resilience, Mental Health in Sport & Entrepreneurship". Mental coach Tobias Bosch tackled an extremely important topic: Mental Health. Especially in competitive sports and entrepreneurship, mental health plays a crucial role, because it can make the difference between success and failure. Taking care of one's mental health and ensuring a healthy balance is a key factor for success. The pros explained how it works.

5. Mischa Zverev, German Tennis Player

What better way to end the ISPO Brandnew Conference than with an interview with a real sports star: tennis pro Mischa Zverev explained his perspective on athletes as investors to the Bits & Pretzels audience. He also explored the synergies between sports and start-ups.

By the way, you can also experience the tennis star up close at ISPO Munich 2023. As a member of the jury, he will be judging the most groundbreaking innovations in the sports industry as part of the ISPO Brandnew Award.

Next stop: ISPO Brandnew at ISPO Munich 2023

The sports industry is full of innovation, and you can experience the full range of brands at ISPO Munich 2023.

In the ISPO Brandnew Area at ISPO Munich 2023, you'll have the opportunity to discover promising startups and emerging brands that will revolutionize the sports industry. From breakthrough products to sustainable designs, it's a gathering place for creativity and passion, where new ideas and technologies come together to create forward-looking innovations. The place-to-be for all start-ups and investors in the sports industry!

You want to be part of it yourself?

The application phase for the ISPO Brandnew Award runs until October 1.

The start-ups selected by an international jury will then have the chance to pitch their innovations live to the jury and the audience of sports experts at ISPO Munich and win the coveted award. Don't miss this opportunity!

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Sarina Scharpf
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