Given the fact that this city has one of the most temperate seasonal climates in the European continent due to its location amongst the plains, it’s quite evident that Berlin has been blessed by nature right from the beginning. But the tremendous growth in the entrepreneurial sector primarily IT and Internet startups over the past couple of years shows that this is a kingdom of passionate and hard-working innovators who are all set to make Berlin one of the best startup hubs of the world in the coming years. From Soundcloud to 6Wunderkinder, ResearchGate to Wooga, Berlin seems to be sowing the seeds of tomorrow’s successful startups each day which has surprisingly sprouted into an enormous number of 5,800 digital companies employing over 62,400 people in Berlin’s digital sector.
Tony Rulli from LandingStanding had started his write up on Berlin’s Startup Scene for the Travelling Entrepreneur with a wonderful statement saying, “Berlin has all of the ingredients of a dynamic entrepreneurial city and is fast using those ingredients to generate some really interesting startups.” So did Bojan Babic with his quirky yet highly informative article on the startup scenario of Berlin. These elaborative features are a living proof showcasing the enormous entrepreneurial progress that has led this creative UNESCO city of design to be now acknowledged for its rising tech scene. As Cornelia Yzer has rightly stated in Berlin.de’s Digital Economy Report, Berlin is indeed “a city which promotes innovation and embraces change.” That’s the very reason why we chose to make this neighborhood the center for our second startup guide after New York – Presenting the Berlin City Beat!
Without Their Help, Berlin City Beat was Nowhere
Like last time, our research on the web went on for over a month at the end of which we finally came up with all the data that was required in order to frame the guide. “Starting a business in Berlin” from IHK Berlin was one of the best resources we got our hands on which truly gives a clear idea as to how to start up in this fascinating city. Not only this, Berlin.de being the official city portal of the German capital was a great help to us whenever we needed any kind of detailed analysis regarding this startup arena. Based out of Berlin and presenting digital innovation across Europe with their crackling news buzz, Venture Village was also a name we could not overlook when it comes to finding resources. From coworking spaces to incubators to investor details, Berlinstartupmap and Berlinstartups have been extremely useful with their wonderfully executed visual presentations of the startup hub within Berlin.
To think that this was enough in terms of resources required by us would have been a big mistake because it was only after we were done with these that we found two other platforms that were equally beneficial at that point in time – one being the extensive list of tech hangout cafes and coworking spaces in Berlin from Guidewriters and the other comprising of highly informative tweets on Berlin’s tech scene from BerlinUp. With research and information gathered, we were again lucky enough to have our friend Liva Judic, Director at Merrybubbles help us with the research on the guide. When asked on the Berlin startup scene and its growth, she said, “The city has a lot to offer to both budding and more experienced entrepreneurs in terms of infrastructure and quality of life, as well as access to investment. Its proximity to Eastern Europe also adds to its attractiveness, with more accessible developers. Berlin is definitely a place keep an eye on. Very closely so.”
Not only this, she has also put up her place on Airbnb for new startups in and around Berlin. We couldn’t have done this without her support. And finally, with over two months of rigorous research, we are here with the Berlin City Beat for all those entrepreneurs willing to startup in this wonderland of innovation.
Having done with the presentation, it’s now necessary to get into the details as to why we chose the specific names in each category for you to have a better idea of them.
Five Tech Hangouts for Some Entrepreneurial “Coffee”
Starting with the top five cafes around Berlin which are more likely termed as “tech hangouts” today where there lies an air full of passion from entrepreneurs who love to chat business over coffee. Be it American styled delis or roasted in-house coffees, Berlin’s cafes have never stopped experimenting with their exquisite menus and beverages and it is this relaxed and trendy vibe that has made these roadside joints the favorite destination for startups and techies. Barcomi’s Deli’s location down a quiet side street with a chilled atmosphere has turned out to be a best-loved place for Mitte’s techies on a hot summer day.
So has Cafe Einstein’s Vienna styled coffee house which has become quite celebrated as a joint where entrepreneurs come up with new ideas over delicious homemade cakes. Again, techies in Kreuzberg find the Cafe Marx Restaurant as one of the best treats after a long day at the office because of its mouth-watering appetizers. Surrounded by a lot of Berlin’s startups, Espresso-Ambulanz has also become a prominent hub for entrepreneurs when it comes to searching for a quiet and homely ground to discuss business. And the final name we couldn’t do without is Syndicato – startups simply love to enjoy their Italian breakfasts!
Berlin Banks & Portals All Set to Help Startups Shape Their Ideas
Searching for startup friendly banks in Berlin seemed a strenuous task in the beginning but when we had the results, there was no looking back. Commerzbank, with 1200 branches across Germany is one of the most celebrated banks around with nearly 1.5 million business and corporate clients. For startups with long-term and sustainable business plans, Berliner Bank is a savior with their real-time financial opportunities.
Their constant efforts in financing for promoting the growth of SMEs in developing and emerging makes Deutsche Bank one of the bank destinations for startups as well. There’s also BÜRGSCHAFTSBANK Berlin which through their financial plans helps startups to make their ideas come alive. Another portal which truly caught our eyes with their extensive support programmes for German based entrepreneurs is Existenzgrundungsportal. These altogether shows that the German capital is no doubt preparing their entrepreneurs into shaping their ideas and presenting some of the world’s best startups of the future.
Startup Friendly Lawyers from Berlin are No Less in Number
Finding legal resources and appropriate lawyers in Berlin is not much difficult now with a variety of options available from legal firms to individual practitioners to even online legal solutions. Take for example, Osborne Clarke has been building strong client relationships with their strategic legal business solutions and an extraordinary team of lawyers. So has the award winning Berlin based legal firm Lindenpartners who have always believed in having best of the best specialized lawyers in their team thus making themselves one of the most coveted legal names in the area.
Another bright legal team who do not call themselves classical lawyers but a team of consultants helping you build your startup and keep it on course are The Startup Lawyers. With fair and adequate pricing, they are quite on their way to deliver high standards of work. Two tax advisors from GRP Rainer Wilfried Grossmann and Gabriele Rainer have also been a prominent name when it comes to knowing about the Berlin tax law scene. And when it comes to making law accessible to anyone on the web, Keinproblem24 (previously known as Agreement24) has definitely proved itself to be the best of the lot making personalized legal solutions available on just one click.
Work Becomes Far More Easier At These Coworking Spaces
Having been a giant hub of startups in recent time, no wonder the coworking spaces list was never ending for us. We just couldn’t stop admiring each of the selected spaces and the unique services they provide. Co.up has been dedicated in building a relaxed yet energetic atmosphere for startups and self-employed workers so that they get to experience the true pleasure at work. Spread over 1,300 square meters of innovation, Ahoy Berlin is one great destination for startups as well with their fully equipped work stations and event blasts. Non-believers of classic offices and strong holders in thinking value at work can be across different locations with different methods of team collaboration, Betahaus is one of the best shores for creative professionals out there. It’s one unforgettable experience of coworking altogether. Next in line comes Ideacamp who claim to reason your startup in 3 days showing how a startup can yield profits within weeks. The well furnished coworking space from Supermarkt Berlin is also doing a commendable job when it comes to hosting workers from various industries under one roof.
A cosy coworking atmosphere with the charm of a Berlin apartment, the Nest coworking space is an unavoidable name in this sector. After gaining quite some popularity with their coffee shop and apartments, St. Oberholz has now extended into their coworking arena which promises to rejuvenate the historic designs of the past. From studios and showrooms to events, IMA Design Village is truly a playground for creativity when it comes to describing their community space. The kind of work culture that Agora coworking space has built over the years is also commendable. The pleasant work environment for both creative and non-creative professionals shows the kind of diversity that exists in this wonderful work forum. Coworkinn also believes in creating a collaborative and synergetic atmosphere amongst its workers which, they believe, will surely bring a rise in productivity. Buerow, on the other hand, has a beautiful work environment where, as they rightly say, one can rent more than just a desk. Modern meeting places and an innovative work culture, Club Office is one name that stands for contemporary coworking in Berlin.
Incubators and Accelerators – The Saviors of the Startup World
When it comes to being mentored on building the right team, Berlin startups have been eager to participate in incubator and accelerator programs for a better progress. This has eventually led to an increase in the number of incubators and accelerators across the city thus giving lots of startups the opportunity to shape their ideas into reality. One such destination is MCube Incubator which aims to revolutionize price comparison on the web by incubating startups with the hunger and zeal to do so. Providing an initial investment of €250,000 for starting up and with an exclusive community of investors, Rheingau Founders tries all possibilities in making your startup successful. Following their unique motto “smart, fast and friendly money”, German Startups Group has indeed provided a startup platform for young companies to grow their business into sky-high limits. With an incubator plus an accelerator program, Hubraum surely fast tracks success by linking tech entrepreneurs and high growth startup companies with opportunities of Deutsche Telekom.
Their focus being fast-growing Internet companies, Team Europe is also a powerful group of entrepreneurs trying to make sustainable brands of the future. A startup incubator supported by Scout24 Portals, YouIsNow has built a wonderful hub for startups where there are events and hackathons happening every other day in order to sustain innovation round the clock. IQ Consult is on the other hand, one of the few agencies who support projects related to social entrepreneurship because their ultimate aim lies in social innovation. With names like FoodPanda and Zalando on their Ventures list, Rocket Internet is one incubator that’s fueling innovation through its spectacular program. Having been one of the best accelerators for global startups, Berlin Startup Bootcamp is one program where there lies an excellent opportunity for innovators to learn the best business methodologies possible. A 4-month, part-time, independent accelerator program, Berlin Startup Academy is another name that makes an ordinary innovator turn into the CEO of a hugely successful company.
Rare Gems in the Form of Startup Mentors and Advisors
The increasing number of startup personalities in and around Berlin has also brought forth an excellent group of mentors and advisors for the fresh starters out there – Berlin Mentors being one of the most famous groups in providing online mentorship to young individuals who then turn out to be the next success stories onboard. From the first pitch to acquiring the initial funds, these mentors on the web are no less in supporting enthusiastic teams to build a future worth admiring. Selected as one of the top 100 women in tech from Europe and a prominent mentor for Seedcamp and Springboard, Paula Marttila believes in being part of the change and not getting disrupted by it.
Three other very popular names from the Berlin startup world who have been ardent mentors in the Berlin Startupbootcamp over the years are Edial Dekker, Andreas Ehn and Weston Hankins. One of the co-founders and CEO of Gidsy and the present Head of Mobile at GetYourGuide, Dutch serial entrepreneur Edial Dekker is an admirable mentors for Berlin startups. So is Andreas Ehn, former CTO for Spotify and the present co-founder and CTO at Wrapp, he is not only a renowned advisor but is also a distinguished angel investor in the startup world. Having been the CTO at CouchSurfing for over 4 long years followed by the CTO for 9Flats, Weston Hankins is also a well celebrated name amongst the Berlin startup mentors world.
Online Sites for Some of the Best Startup Jobs
Every startup at any point in time would want to have the best team in the world and Berlin is in no way an exception. That’s probably the reason why local startup job sites have become the center of attraction for startup-a-holics round the corner. Started back in 2011 by a passionate startup advisor and consultant Hessam Lavi, Berlin Startup Jobs is kind of an one-stop hub for all the talents required by startups across domains.
Having said that, Venture Village’s startup jobs corner is also an important mention in this arena with their elaborative posts highlighting startup openings from time to time. Marsjob again has an additional perk of a startup database along with their descriptive job board. In addition to this, job boards from Eu-Startups and Berlinjob.net have also been doing considerable startup job listings in Berlin time and again. And if recruiting still seems to be a pain, Myerecruiting is one agency that can clearly solve the problem as a reliable partner.
Without Digital Marketing & PR firms, It All Seems So Old School
When this is a city that has been setting a new benchmark with new-age internet startups, it’s obvious that digital marketing agencies will be there a many. With over 10 years of experience in implementing internet marketing strategies, Internet Warriors is undoubtedly a prominent name in this sector. Then there’s Aperto too which has been experienced in handling international marketing campaigns in the best way possible. Comprising of a multicultural team from over 30 countries, Glispa’s digital marketing campaigns have that added magic of gaining the attention from a global audience. 3PC is also a great option given the fact that they think strategically about the benefits online campaigns can offer. As they rightly say, KKLD has been a creative agency with an agnostic approach to online media keeping their client’s needs above everything else. Giving high tech startups the opportunity to introduce their products in the market, Dots’n’Spaces has been another ardent imagineer in the digital marketing sector of Berlin as well.
Though not based out of Berlin, Merrybubbles is a great destination for some quick tips on online marketing and branding campaigns and much more. A team comprising of leading market scientists and economists, DELFI Marketing surely guarantees a high-quality approach to online marketing solutions. A part of the international PR network the mc Group, mc Digital is one agency in Berlin when it comes to searching for diversified digital marketing. The next name is a global fame of the PR world for tech companies – they are the super famous Clarity PR group. And if that’s still not enough, then Ballou PR Berlin is another shore for high-growth companies in order to generate noteworthy online awareness.
No Startup Can Do Without Website Graphics and Developers
It’s the online world that’s the prince of business today and the crown for that glory comes only if there’s the usage of proper development and graphics. So, inevitably, every startup has two mandatory requirements in order to establish their business – Graphic Designers and Website Developers. With a never ending customer list and an excellent touch of design, Cubus has been doing great rounds in the website designing world since 1998. MetaDesign also happens to be an accomplished name when it comes to recognizing the right power in branding. From motion design to exquisite graphics, Goldener Westen takes your brand through the unseen horizons of creativity. Using design into creating great service models for businesses, Fjord is another celebrated name in the field of innovation and creativity and is now a part of Accenture Interactive too. In order to describe Filmgraphik, it’s their very own quote that am going to use “Creatively merging visual communication and inspiration – with heart.” The immense creativity and variety that exists within Digitalime, another creative agency from Berlin, is clearly evident from their service models and portfolio. Finally, there’s also a freelance web designer from Berlin Flaco Zacarias whose work is a clear proof of the elegance and beauty that his design skills have.
For developers, it’s the work and their dedication that pays off. Supernovae is one such name that has been doing quite a number of great works in the recent times. There’s Ali Haberfield too who makes websites and the portfolio shows how competent they are. Karl Westin and his 30-second pitch introduces you to a high-skilled developer cum designer of the internet era. A front-end web developer with a brilliant website, Gonzalo Garcia is an unavoidable name in this domain as well. To add to that, Benedict Wallis has great skills as a web developer too having been quite an active member on GitHub and Stack Overflow.
Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors Startups Crave For
There’s hardly a startup that can survive without venture capital and this is the very reason that with the growth of the startup world, Berlin has also seen a surge in venture capital firms and angel investors. Starting with venture funds doing early stage deals, Earlybird is a name that’s been known for its striking investments (from range €200k to €15m) in tech companies which according to them have the potential to impact large markets. Trying to bring the best of both the worlds of angel investment and venture capital firms through their rocking investments, Point Nine Capital deserves a special mention any day.
Berlin Venture Partners have also been on the front step when it comes to supporting truly innovative internet companies of the future. Through their extensive team of extremely dedicated professionals, Hasso Plattner Ventures (HPV) has been able to inspire focused startups to take a steady step ahead. Early stage investments for companies in the digital media landscape, BDMI is the name that goes as the perfect match. And for the startups who are innovating in the field of IT and health, XLHealth promises to be the one-stop hub for incubation, acceleration and early stage investment.
Next comes Micro VCs in Berlin known for their seed deals. An early stage investor in Wellington Partners, a renowned mentor at Seedcamp and an advisor to tech companies, Christian Thaler Wolski is a name Berlin startups can’t do without. Philipp Hartmann being a serial entrepreneur himself is also a popular name when it comes to early stage investment in digital business.
We’ve spoken about Hubraum before and it’s not surprising enough to have known that the founder of this stunning incubator Peter Borchers is a distinguishes name in the early stage investing world too. The Co-founder and Partner of Earlybird Dr. Christian Nagel is another name associated with the world of Micro VCs in Berlin. A lead investor for over 200 high-tech companies, Creathor Venture is doing a commendable job as well.
And finally when it comes to discussing Angel Fundings, Berlin has a reasonable list of options available too. MAS Angel Fund being a recognized name for their handpicked startup investments over the years shows the eagerness of angels in helping deserving companies grow.
They consider entrepreneurship to be an engine for economic and social development and probably that’s the reason why the Business Angels Club Berlin is eager to make the Berlin startup scene escalate with time. But the Berlin angel scene is not only confined to groups but active individual angels too. The first name being of Andreas Ehn, the present co-founder and CTO of Wrapp. Having invested in startups like Rapleaf and Aviary, Lukasz Gadowski is a name worth mentioning too.
Next comes the founder of one of the most eminent startups of Berlin, Soundcloud, none other than Eric Wahlforss himself. Cofounder of Berlin Startupbootcamp Alex Farcet, has been doing quite a large number of angel investments too. Lastly, it has to be Felix Petersen because he is an angel who had seen the efficiency in Soundcloud and Gidsy long before anyone else did.
Startup Pitch Events Day In & Out Makes Startup Talents Sparkle
Demo days and pitch events have become bread and butter for every startup round the world, naturally Berlin again not being an exception. NEXT Berlin has been doing it consistently since 2006 and there seems no end to this meeting place for the entire European digital industry at a go. Apart from being a renowned accelerator, Startupbootcamp Berlin Demo Days are also a great platform for startups to present themselves before investors. So is YouIsNow whose startup and tech events have gained a lot of attention amongst the innovators of Berlin.
The Pitch Marathon that happens three times every year amongst 26 top startups is another great opportunity for the new stars to showcase their ideas before investors. Berlin Startup Weekend is indeed a place for creative minds too and just like any other Startup Weekend, they make sure that all attendees leave the event with a better mindset of handling the messy but fun world of startups. The pitch events organized by Berlin Hardware Accelerator gives hardware startups the opportunity to reach out to investors too. And what we can’t avoid mentioning are the Betahaus Thursday Breakfasts, the one stop destination for startup professionals to feel at home.
Miscellaneous Contacts Startups Need Every Now and Then
These are not the most important contacts a Berlin startup may need but they are undeniably the contacts that every startup would like to have with them sometime or the other. From business cards to flyers and posters, Overnight Prints makes sure that the printing requirements of every startup gets fulfilled at any time of the day and that too at reasonable prices. Be it surprise office parties or fellow colleague’s birthday bash, FBI Office Catering services brings good food on the office table at the right time. R & Q Management Berlin on the other hand ensures that office cleaning happens just when it’s needed.
R.S.V.P’s online store is again the right destination for office stationeries and must-haves. Invoices to proofreading to text detection, JR Office Service is the right choice for sorting out priorities at work. In order to rent temporary office furniture on those starting days at work, Aaron’s is always the safest choice. Qunit rocks for its human resource services and the diversity that lies with it. Bridging the gap between international founders and local infrastructure, Startup Berlin is doing a praiseworthy job in terms of providing necessary resources on tax, legals, coworking and insurance. Lastly, for meet and greet expats and solution finders, G1obals is the correct place to be in.
Like last time, we have a handbook for startup enthusiasts in Berlin you can download below.
Coming to the end of this second elaborate guide that we have launched for those who wish to startup in Berlin, there’s only one thing that comes up from all the research that we have done. This is a city which, with all it’s might and resources, has been trying to make it the startup capital of Europe and in the coming years, undoubtedly Berlin is going to make its mark on the world with more Soundcloud and Gidsy like teams who have the thrust and zeal to rise high in the world of innovation.
And just for you to know and be prepared for, the next stop for City Beat would be the “Windy City” of the United States – Chicago. Stay tuned!