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November 13, 2018

The Copenhagen Catalog Is Setting a New Direction in Tech

At the start of September, our co-founders Madeleine & Christoph visited the second edition of Techfestival in Copnehagen. Here are their highlights of the event and some of their insights behind the Copenhagen Catalog.

Copenhagen Techfestival

From 5-9 September, more than 16,000 curious entrepreneurs gathered in the city of Copenhagen with one goal – to set a more human-centred direction for tech. The second edition of Techfestival in Copenhagen was mainly focused on the impact that technology has on our lives. It aimed to provide, once again, a collaborative space for experts from all backgrounds to brainstorm the next wave in tech and set goals for making it more human.

The festival took place in Kødbyen – the iconic Meatpacking District – which turned into the perfect location for the conference's many talks, panel discussions, workshops, and keynotes. Big names such as Claire Evans and Bruce Sterling shared their insights on the open-air stage and challenged participants to come up with solutions for a better and more humanized tech world.

The Copenhagen Catalog

In last year’s edition of Techfestival, 150 tech-thought leaders were locked in Refshaleøen for 24 hours to discuss the future of technology and create a manifesto called The Copenhagen Letter. You can find a wrap up of last year’s event here.

This year, the experiment and the cause got even bigger. The same 150 participants were locked in the uKirke – a famous church in Copenhagen – for 48 hours. The goal this time was to provide 150 principles to help set a new, more human(ity)-centered direction for tech. During the two days, each of the 150 participants worked on his/her own principles. In the end, all concepts were gathered to create The Copenhagen Catalog.

Come to Investors Day & betapitch Global 2018 to see the Copenhagen Catalog live! You'll find it on display at our betahaus | Pop-Up on 15 November from 12pm-5pm.

Stories from our Co-founders

Together with people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities our co-founders – Christoph and Madeleine –took a deep dive into the relationship between humans & technology. Here’s what they had to say about the event and the principles they were working on.

Left - Madeleine's Principle; Right - Christoph's Principle


''The whole event felt more like a public forum than the usual tech convention,'' said Madeleine. ''And it was just like meeting old friends. We all started together couple of years ago and now we have bigger responsibilities for the direction in which tech is heading. For the first time in a very long time my role was not to represent betahaus, but to contribute to the tech community and search for a positive change, mindset, and direction. And this felt great!''

When asked about the process, Madeleine explained: ‘’During the 48h brainstorm session, we were first divided into a few groups, depending on the topic we chose to work on whether it be tech in our governments, food systems, personal relationships, families and so on.‘’


Already by the second session, Madeleine had picked her topic – kids’ tech consumption. As a mother of two children, she was terrified of the consequences that tech could have on kids, if parents don’t restrict their usage. In Berlin, for example, there is an increasing awareness about healthy food. At the same time, you see children staring at phone screens for multiple hours a day, watching videos or playing games and nobody does anything about it. Madeleine believed that in the same way we know what is on our children’s plate and what kind of food we’re feeding them, we should create a Digital Nutrition Facts Box and start paying more attention to what is healthy and in what quantities they should be consuming technology.

Christoph went in a different direction building his principle. He tried to trace the evolution of tech, see where it went wrong, and solve the problem for future generations. ‘’Some decades ago, technology made some huge promises regarding democracy, yet today the tech world is ruled by the Big 4s (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) having a monopoly over the tech world. It promised solutions about climate change, about the inequality of nations, or the health sector, but nowadays the problems are only getting bigger and bigger.

HIs solution was to ‘’Always Build An Escape Pod’’ in case things don’t work out as intended.

Bruce Sterling - The Closing Keynote

Want to Learn More?

Madeleine’s Highlight of the event: The Opening Keynote by Claire L. Evans’
Christoph’s Highlight of the event: The Closing Keynote by Bruce Sterling

We are excited to share that one of the co-founders of Techfestival, Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, is joining us for Investors Day and BETAPITCH Global on 15 November! He’s also bringing the Copenhagen Catalog in the form of exhibition. Grab your ticket for the event and come hear him speak. During Investors Day, the 150 principles will be spread around betahaus reminding both startups and investors of the direction we want to set for tech.

Can't make it to Investors Day? Check out some of the other events going on around the house.



Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them. 

Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.

Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for  betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear. 

Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.



Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK


Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !

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