When a TV crew rings you up and asks you to appear in a report you generally say yes, though one doesn’t normally know how it’ll turn out. In this case I think Reuters got the story right (embedded below). Berlin is indeed becoming a big startup hub in Europe (and ‘ll be back there again next week, as it happens). Why is this?
First of all: it’s cheap. It’s cheap to have an office there and it’s cheap to live (assuming you can deal with the harsh winters!). It’s also a hub for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to get to fairly easily. So if you want to draw on the strong pool of CEE maths and engineering talent, that’s a plus. A drawback is access to capital – although getting a VC to schlep up from Munich or down from Hamburg isn’t impossible, and some VCs, like Earlybird, have even chosen to locate there. For some reason the city of Berlin also has a lot of ‘mindshare’ amongst Americans. I guess we have JFK and Obama to thanks for that – but also there are strong art scene connections.
Berlin was traditionally known for ‘startup factories’ which would produce clones of US tech businesses. But a home-grown scene of startups which have an international reach (and usually in international staff) is what is making the waves these days.
Berlin isn’t the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ of startups in Europe by any means. The clusters around London, Paris, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, the Nordics, etc etc continues to produce great companies. As far as Moscow, Belgrade and Ljubljana, you name it, all over Europe there is a flowering of innovation right now. But Berlin has a lot of the attention at the moment, so they might as well ride the wave.
“Reuters: July 26 – Germany’s capital city, known for its creative spirit and affordable living costs is attracing young entrepreneurs and startups like Soundcloud and Wooga, as it becomes Europe’s technology hub. Joanna Partridge reports.”