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Given the importance of stars in astronomy, it seems surprising that there is still no generally accepted paradigm for the initial phase of their formation process. EPoS The Early Phase of Star Formation is a series of conferences addressing this fundamental astrophysical question. Held at the Max-Planck Society conference center Ringberg castle, the meetings differ from most other meetings of the star formation community by attributing substantial time to discussions. The number of participants is chosen in a way that all relevant topics can be covered in presentations but also allows for open discussion among all participants. The six meetings from 2006 to 2016 have attracted a large fraction of the scientists working in this field worldwide. The conference series focuses on early low- and high-mass star formation. The topics covered are: triggered star formation, clustered star formation, cores, chemistry, collapse, fragmentation, jets, competitive accretion, giant molecular clouds, binarity, magnetic fields, initial mass function, turbulence, X-rays, and early phases of disks.