The best of the times, the worst of times…

Written at Jul 31, 2023 2:23:31 PM by Dave Connors

I have just returned from a couple of days in Cologne. The founder journey is a bit of a roller coaster and this trip encapsulated that!

I don’t have a superstitious bone in my body, but the airport experience was definitely weird… the boarding pass in my Apple Wallet let me drop my bag but wouldn’t get me through the security check so I had to go back and get one printed. Then at the gate, THAT boarding pass didn’t work either, and I ended up needing another boarding pass printed at the gate. 3 boarding passes to get on 1 flight - must be some sort of record!

Arriving at passport control in Düsseldorf, the German border guard kept looking at my photo, looking at his screen, flicking through my stamp pages… then again and again… the booths either side had people racing through. I was racking my brains to think how I may have disgraced myself on my last trip to Germany (Munich 2019) and couldn’t remember anything that classed as criminal… and it seems whatever it was did indeed stay just the right side of the law as I was eventually waved through.

You know where this is leading, don’t you? My luggage was lost (and 3 days later at time of writing) still is.

So Monday evening was spent not sampling the Kolsch but running round shopping to pick up enough supplies to get me through the trip, a quick dinner and to bed.

Tuesday thankfully was much better, a short stroll through a sunny (but windy and chilly) Cologne past the beautiful cathedral to meet our clients Liberty at their Cologne office. We’ve been rolling the product out across the Netherlands, France and Italy and will be moving to Germany later this year so it was great to meet them and see their enthusiasm for the product and keenness to get their turn to enjoy the benefits of distriBind. After a nice lunch (danke Sebastian!) my colleague Ksenia and I went to the Cologne Mediapark for the InsurTech Synposium.

An intimate but buzzing get together of some of the leading minds from Corporates, VCs and InsurTechs, the InsurTech Symposium is really a great networking opportunity. With no exhibitors it’s not about the hard sell but making connections!

distriBind were presenting as a start-up chosen via a competition held under the Camelot Network banner so we were really honoured to be selected. We were even more pleased to be allowed 2 presenters, as most only had 1. Even in a short 3 minute pitch a second voice really keeps interest up and it’s important to me that others in the team get opportunities to hone their skills across the board. At the last 3 conferences we’ve attended 4 team members besides me have had a chance to present - with Charlie (our Head of Product) and Ksenia doing so twice each. We got really good feedback for the pitch and the way it flowed!

We had to duck out the last hour of day 1 for another meeting (in a Brauhaus, finally some Kolsch!). Meeting our contact back at the hotel, I dived back into my room to grab a jacket and use the bathroom. Washing my hands I sneezed, bent down to clear my nose and smacked my head on the tap, opening up a nice cut bang in the middle of my forehead. (A fine way to make a first impression!)

After drinking a few Kolsch and stemming the bleeding, we got back to the conference in time for a very special transfer to another Brauhaus for a networking dinner (and more Kolsch). It was a great opportunity to meet other founders, VCs and Insurers and again I was really pleased how many people remembered our presentation, gave such positive feedback and were happy to connect and hear more.

Though I was nursing a bit of a hangover on Wednesday it was still a really positive day with some more good connections made. I will write separately about some of the presentations as I think this is already a long blog but the conference was really interesting and I was delighted to have got the chance to be there.

Like all good rollercoasters, having taken me high, the trip had a final couple of dips…

First a delay - though thankfully not that long as I was really tired and keen to get home. Then waiting on the tarmac to get off, engrossed in a True Crime podcast (Casual Criminalist, a strong recommend) I became aware that the stewards were talking to my row mates. Lifting my headphones I realised they were offering us a move to extra leg room seats… as the other two cleared off it occurred to me I’m not that tall but I am carrying a little holiday weight (ahem) so the idea of a row to myself appealed more than a couple of inches leg space and I stayed put. A few moments later the steward came back down the plane with a stern look on his face and stood by my row - I removed my headphones and he said “you’re not willing to swap?” and I realised we were actually being asked to make way to let a family sit together. Red faced, I had to slink down the plane in shame…

What a roller coaster, what a trip.

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Dave Connors

CEO & Founder