What is Good About no WOW-Plans? – Why Berlin is the Startup City to Find Milk and Honey


The only way to get familiar with a new place is to be there, walk around there, bike there, eat there, have fun there and perhaps even explore the “there” with others.

That was also the way Berlin was explored as The Kaospilots from team SUI 5, which included 4 different nationalities put their feet on the ground on Sunday the 14th of May 2017 to spend one week in “The city that never sleeps”.
We all checked into the little shack of a hostel named X Berger, as it was definitely not what you would consider a palace or… a totally clean place, but good enough for flexible entrepreneurs, ready for about anything. Read More


Understading market for low-income housing

I’m André, originally from Brazil, student at Kaospilots Switzerland. Moved by impatience, I like to go out there and see how things work and what could make them better, a design thinking spirit.

What are you doing in Cape Town?

I came to South Africa aiming to get experiences on design thinking and business in developing countries, 2 areas of my interest.

I’m working with 2 design thinking projects with CCDI (Cape Craft and Design Institute). What could be better? And on this post, I talk about the Better Living Challenge.

The Better Living Challenge aims to discover the processes of the small scale builder in terms of access and usage of materials, financial ability, construction techniques. Through this discovery, acknowledge the role of small scale builders in developing low-cost settlements.

Our scope is to map out market around small scale building, basically the construction of shacks. We based our research and prototype in the township of Nyanga.

meeting scope

Apart the work and studies at Kaospilots, I go to the beach, exercise, drink South African wines! And I’m very happy to find places in Cape Town for salsa, kizomba and bachata! I love latino songs!

What are they doing that inspires you?

Businesses for the base of pyramid are always unique because of the challenges around low-income communities. And it’s not different in the townships! Financial constraints, cultural particularities, lack of infrastructure, historical segregation in South Africa. If you don’t pay attention to such aspects, you’ll never understand how the money circulates in the townships.

The business ecosystem operates in a way not understandable for the traditional business approach. One extra particularity, it operates under informality in most of the cases. How would you serve clients in townships demanding documents, proof of income and thousands of bureaucracies?

What are you (as a group) contributing with in this project?

Our task as a group is to map out the market for small-scale builders in the townships. Like many particularities you find in developing countries, the townships by themselves are huge markets full of business opportunities. In Nyanga, where we were basing our prototype, there are about 2 million people living.

How to serve customers with low-income, no stable job and no banking account? On the video below, a shack being built. What improvements to address for such constructions? What really matters for the people who live in shacks?

Due to an incident of robbing towards 3 of my colleagues while in Nyanga, we had to change our plans to don’t go there anymore. Unfortunately, crime is an issue in Cape Town and foreigners in a township are easy target by the criminals.

Anyway, we’re on the road and searching for alternatives to address how existing shacks can be upgraded. The challenge to understand the cultural aspects in the townships, their struggles and what is valuable for them is pushing for different approaches than usual business do.

What is the biggest insight of doing this project (from you or and the partner)?

Why is easy to get credit to buy a car, clothes, mobile phone? Why is almost impossible for a low-income citizen get a credit even to start a business?

People in townships live by today: carry the enough for today, buy only what they need for today… What would you do with no bank account, low-income and no fridge at home?

What else to say?

No romantic idea about Cape Town! Just don’t be silly and naïve, you can manage with the lack of security in the city. Social inequality in South Africa is huge, be aware to don’t flash valuable objects and where you put your shoes!

Outpost in Cape Town

It is going quite intense the Outpost, that is how we call our 3 months overseas program during the 4th semester.

48 students coming two Kaospilots schools: one from Switzerland and one from Denmark; mentored by two team leaders. As a result, an organization started up in order to manage 12 projects with local partners in Cape Town plus its internal activities.


Process facilitation during the creation of our organizational structure

By these last 2 weeks, projects have been selected by the students and are already with defined scope and starting execution mode.

Every student- out of 48 in the total – is involved in two external projects (executed with an external partner) and one internal project (within the internal organization).

Just to share a little of what we do in Cape Town, 3 examples of external projects being executed in the Outpost 2017:

  • #cocreateSA: in partnership CCDI (Cape Craft & Design Institute), it aims to show the value of a design-led process of innovation for understand recycling in Cape Town, throughout the design thinking method.
  • Dine with Khayelitsha: is a project that aims at bridging  the gap between townships and cities through setting conversational dinners that are driven by different themes ranging from social issues, social innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship and sustainability (of hope, positivity and change within townships).
  • SACAP:it is the South African College of Applied Psychology, that has been working to shift the current perspective about mental health care in South Africa, providing mental health care services to individuals who otherwise would not be able to access them in the township of Khayelitsha.


We intend to keep you updated about our next steps in Cape Town! For more details, you can follow up the Facebook page Kaospilots Cape Town.




Open Alumni Program 2017-18

NEW BUSINESS#gatherings

We have a new open program offer for our Alumni of the KaosPilots and the NEW BUSINESS mastery training, the entrepreneurs of the Innovationsdorf and friends and guests. You are welcome to these 4 gatherings to grow and develop your projects and business initiatives, get coaching and support and have fun together.

We want to use time together to share where we are at and what we each need, to support eachother and to develop and grow our businesses and get to know new people – this is key for all of us.
Therefore we would like to invite you for these first 4 gatherings – a spring, a summer, a fall and a winter gathering. The summer gathering is also our 2 day Summer-Academy here in Bern.
This gathering is also open for other people and interested participants. So you can bring friends and business partners along if you like.
In this first year we will test different formats – the main activities will be facilitated by Jørgen Smidstrup and Matti Straub, also offering coaching corners for your business ideas and projects. We will also invite external speakers where that is inspiring and depending on the needs that we will hear from you all.

The costs 

Alumni of KaosPilots and NEW BUSINESS, and inhabitants of the Innovationsdorf Bern can sign up for the entire 4 gatherings for an early bird booking price of Fr. 480.- (4 x 120.-). This includes the meals (dinner and lunch, plus beverages during the day). This also includes the participation in the 2 day Summer-Academy in Bern as a bonus. This offer is valid until Friday, April 28th, 2017.
If you want to sign up for a single event, as an alumni of NEW BUSINESS mastery program, the KaosPilots 3 year program or as an inhabitant of the Innovationsdorf Bern, you pay Fr. 148.- per event. The Summer-Academy with 2 full days and evening program will cost you Fr. 280.- when you sign up only for this event as alumni.
As an external participant and guests:
You will pay Fr. 170.- (students also Fr. 120.-) per workshop of 1,5 days. And Fr. 350.- for the 2 days Summer-Academy (Fr. 180 for students).
If you want to book all 4 workshops at once, you can do so by paying 750.-, instead of the full price of 860.-
Please sign up asap or latest a week in advance, so we can book the meals and beverages for you.

Dates and Sign up

New Business Spring-Gathering, Thursdayevening and Friday, 11th/12th of May 2017, at Innovationsdorf Bern http://doodle.com/poll/2kkycynecawrec9p
Summer-Academy, Friday and Saturday, August 25th/26th, 2017, at the Innovationsdorf Bern, http://doodle.com/poll/hiwuraqc75d3xs2v
New Business Fall-Gathering, Thursday evening and Friday, 9th/10th of November, 2017, at the Innovationsdorf Bern http://doodle.com/poll/7r3rcm6xk58e4fz3
New Business Winter-Gathering, Thursday evening and Friday, 1st/2nd of March, 2017, at the Innovationsdorf Bern, http://doodle.com/poll/qqkxduswhxace7xx
We are looking forward to seeing you here!
For questions get in touch.
Warm regards,
Matti Straub-Fischer, Headmaster KaosPilots Switzerland and Chief-changel
and Jørgen Smidstrup, graphic designer and chef

Team SUI 4 preparing for Cape Town

Our students of Team SUI 4 who are currently in their second year at the KaosPilots are preparing for their Outpost in South Africa. They will spend the time from February to May in Cape Town, together with 38 students of the Danish KaosPilots who are in their second year, too.


What is the Outpost?

During the fourth semester – out of 6 semesters during KaosPilots – the students are moved somewhere else in the world for 3 months to apply their acquired skills on project and process design in an unfamiliar cultural and social environment.

Working with real clients and projects, they (from Danish and Swiss schools) will create an organization that helps them serve their clients’ needs. Each Oupost is unique, emerging along its own path.

Through a diversity of contents, the projects aim to create value and impact upon collaborations: amongst students in project groups, with project partners and local communities in Cape Town.

The intentions of the Outpost can be summarized in 3 purposes:

  • Cultivate your craft: cultivating enterprise leadership combining the competences related to subject, action, relationship and change. And creating value in the context of a specific situation;
  • Collaborate & co-create value: create value with and for other people;
  • Navigate complexity & ambiguity: cultivate essential leadership competence of sensemaking and essential virtues such as lightness, openness, courage and patience.

The 3 purposes of the Outpost

Why Cape Town?

Cape Town has been the base for the Outpost in the last 5 years due to its diversity, energy, culture and potential to create meaningful collaborations with local organizations and interesting people in the city.

These years simply convinced us there is much to learn from the initiatives and people of Cape Town who have been creating a new reality for the city.


The farewell party of a previous Outpost in Cape Town, South Africa

From fibre to fabric

The Outpost 2017 is themed “From fibre to fabric“, as analogy to celebrate the cultural diversity in Cape Town, whose social fabric is made of many diverse fibres that bring a new set of unique traits if woven together.

We will surely keep you updated of what we do during the Outpost! See you in Cape Town!

Meet the Ninevites

Nonkuleko Mlangeni is one of the graduate from Team 2 at KaosPilots Switzerland. Moved by her passion for supporting and empowering young artists in South Africa, she’s been active with her textiles creations and willing to grow as a community builder and entrepreneur.


One of the creations designed by Nonkuleko. Picture taken from theninevites.net

Through the questions below, Nonkuleko describes about her projects Ninevites and how the Kaospilots contributed for make it happen. The Ninevites is a collaborative project and platform to explore under-told narratives of life from South Africa using textiles, images and design.

What is your project? And what is its purpose?

Nonkuleko: It is called Ninevites. We design textiles, curate events and it is inspired by black aesthetics. I work with weavers from South America and Africa currently making handmade rugs. The idea is to preserve the culture of weaving and also create work for them because textile making is a dying craft.

How Kaospilots was important to develop your project?

Nonkuleko: It gave me confidence to be able to communicate my ideas, to implement them and to actually not be afraid to try things out. Prototype and test it out. And as a creative I got to learn about business which came in handy.

What were the steps of your project until now? Milestones? Golden nuggets?

Nonkuleko: I’ve mainly been travelling around the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region trying to find weavers, learning about the process of using good materials to make the weaving, working with the right people and improving the brand. Golden nuggets, it is the importance of prototyping and testing.


Working with weavers during trip in South America. Picture taken from theninevites.net

Tibetan football team: an inspiring story of a Kaospilot

Do you know that the Tibetan Football Team was revived by a Kaospilot? It was in 1997 when the Danish Michael Nybrandt got the idea to revive the national football team in Tibet. Since the regime of Mao Tsetung and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, football in Tibet was reduced to a mere amateur league.

It is an incredible story of a young KaosPilot who had two deep desires: to play football and to change the world somehow. Michael brought his two passions together and founded the Tibetan Football National Team.


Before he started his education at the KaosPilots, he had a dream while on a bicycle adventure on Tibet that he was the manager of Tibetan national football team. Tibet isn’t recognized as independent state and the country didn’t even have any football team at that time.

As a KaosPilot he managed to overcome many obstacles and barriers to start this amazing project organizing one match with the Tibetan Football Team’s manager Karma Ngodup in Dharamsala (India, where is the home of Tibetan government-in-exile) to select the players who would represent Tibet internationally and be trained by the coach Jens Espensen.

In 2000, when the selection of players for Tibet had taken place, there was no internet connection yet. The contact and communication was only possible by fax and by phone calls. Anyway, Michael decided to go for this idea.

As Tibet is not recognized as a state, there were political and practical challenges along the way. Only to organize a football match! As shown in the documentary The Forbidden Team, it was a long journey with a lot bureaucracy to provide the travel documents and visa to go to Denmark, where happened the first match against Greenland.

From the selection of players until the match against Greenland, there were obstacles and refusals to play a match against Tibetan team regarding political interests, difficulties regarding visa and travel documents, practical challenges such as the lack of proper training infrastructure. Difficulties that in the end were overcome with the attitude, to allow dreams to come true; from the darkness to the light.

What is the essence of Michael’s project? It’s not about fighting against a political regime (Tibet is currently under Chinese control), it’s just about having the chance to play football, having the freedom to do what you like to do as human being. And that’s what makes an individual adventure a universal story to inspire people.

After the documentary The Forbidden Team, Michael has published a powerful graphic novel on this adventure: Dreams in Thin Air.

Michael Nybrandt will be at the KaosPilots school in Bern. In a public storytelling event on Sunday, 23rd October, 2016 he will be sharing his story and give insights into his inspiring journey. The event will happen from 16:30 h to 19:15 h.
Entrance fee is CHF 20, for students CHF 10. Confirm your presence by signing up with an e-mail to fly@kaospilots.ch.

PS: You can also check Michael’s interview for the KaosPilots in Denmark about how he made his dream come true.