The inventor of the 12min.me meet-up, Oliver Rößling, welcomes his fans on YouTube with a “Hello, you rockers.” The upcoming 12-hour event on June 20-21, 2019 features 12 topics, 80 12 minute talks and 20 panels of 48 (4×12) minutes each in addition to 144 seconds of networking and pitches on a pick-up van. Two awards will be presented to a female and male prize-winner. Organisers are expecting some 800 guests – 30 per cent of whom are likely to be female.
Hamburg News: Moin Oliver, we’d like to ask you 144:12:2 = 6 questions about the conference. Why the 12? Why not the 11 or 8?
Oliver: The dozen has a long tradition not only in Europe and when buying eggs (12 months, 12 stars on the EU flag, etc.). Moreover, it is relatively similar and easy to pronounce in both English and German and the domain was still free.
Hamburg News: Keynotes, pitches, exhibition, trend food and party. You have learned to combine the theatrics of various technology events. You do things differently, don’t you?
Oliver: As always our clock is merciless. Every speaker has exactly 12 minutes to get their message across and conclude their talk. Our schedule is tight and timed to the minute – on six stages over two days. It will be tight, but lots of fun. The same applies to the panels.
We have decided to hold the conference entirely in English to give Hamburg an international meeting point – a conference for experts from all over the world. Going global and being perceived internationally is long overdue, if we are to feature on the world map. However, we cannot achieve this through our work alone. The city must basically open up.
Hamburg News: Visionaries who board pick-up trucks outside the Chamber of Commerce. I heard you had to seek approval to stage the event i.e. demonstration? Is that right?
Oliver: Exactly, it is not easy to hold an outdoor event in Hamburg and we are pleased with the solution within the framework of a peaceful demonstration. The Chamber of Commerce is our partner and has learned to rock 'n’ roll in recent years. A chamber for all entrepreneurs is an open chamber and takes certain things tongue in cheek and joins in.
Hamburg News: You wish to welcome business-driven actors, but also to stir up people with social debates and impact. The “us” in 12hrs.us is already attracting attention. What is your message?
Oliver: As always, everything works best together. We live in damn, fast-paced times, which leaves many people stuck in a cloud of dust. The subtitle of the conference is “Society Disrupted” to highlight dramatic or significant impacts of technology on our society. Our aim is to demystify this ominous and ubiquitous digitalisation, which takes two forms. On the one hand, the term digitisation is a placeholder for technical upheaval in the economy that is occurring faster than expected. On the other hand, digitization stands for a new social paradigm that is significantly changing almost all areas of life.
Hamburg News: Is 12hrs.us to be held annually in Hamburg?
Oliver: We plan to hold it once a year. We reserve the right to occasionally take a trip to another 12min.me location, as the network is the cornerstone of 12hrs.us. Supra-regional, international co-operation and communication is very important to us.
Hamburg News: What do you personally find cool about Hamburg, the birthplace of the successful 12min.me format?
Oliver: I like living in a city that doesn’t always feel like one. I like to talk straight and not to beat about the bush – and that rockers, hippies, hipsters, pepper bags and yuppies get along well here.
Hamburg News: Thank you. I wish you every success.
Interview by Karolin Köcher