While Berlin is known to many as one of Europe’s best cities to visit, not everyone knows it’s also one of the world’s biggest and best startup founder communities. With the highest market share of startups of any German city (17%), Berlin is a growing hub of creative and tech entrepreneurs.
So, what does Berlin have that we don’t? What makes it such a viable city for startup activity?
After spending an exciting few days in Berlin for the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit, I came close to uncovering the answer…
In Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness’s latest book, “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success” they write extensively about sustaining performance and having the courage to rest. But in this startup world where grinding yourself into the ground and chugging back energy drinks is the norm, is there time to actually zone out and chill?
The book suggests that true development happens when we’re in a state of rest, which is why you we tend to get epiphany’s while in the shower or sitting on a beach. This happens because we’ve removed ourselves from our work environment and our brain is allowed to rest.
So it makes sense that Berlin’s myriad of leisure spots, whether it’s Mauerpark on a Sunday, Gorlitzer Park, or any spot where you’re able to lay down and bask in the sun – provide ample opportunity for the brain to shut off. And when it’s too cold to bask in the sun? There’s never a shortage of parties or gigs to get up and dance along to.
Berlin’s liberal view on public wifi and the ample cafes that provide this wifi (alongside a hot drink), means we’re not confined to home offices or coworking spaces. We can head to cafe’s like Laidak in Neukölln, and simply plug in. No fuss, no muss. There’s no dirty or judgemental looks from the business owners wondering why you haven’t bought more, or who are concerned that you’re taking up table space that another paying customer could be using.
Shoestring not bling
Berlin is without a doubt an inexpensive city to live in. Everything from the local public transport to food, booze, and rent is far below that of any other startup city of the same calibre. When building a startup, every cent counts. In Berlin you can get lunch for less than 4 Euros, and it will fill you up until dinner. And while the cost of living is relatively low, Berlin is also not an ostentatious city. No one wins brownie points for spending a weeks rent on clothing or accessories. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but in Berlin, the priorities appear to be different.
Wetting your whistle
Club Mate, enough said. This drink can be found everywhere and is a favourite amongst the locals. It does have caffeine, but there’s no insane buzz or the inevitable and immediate energy slump. At coworking spaces like Betahaus and The Factory, Club Mate is stacked throughout the fridges – no V or Red Bull insight.
Need time out but still need the ability to work? Head to Coconat – a workation retreat in the countryside built to enhance both rest and work. This community space is truly something to behold. Head to the SAP data space. It’s cafe/IoT centre is equipped with a data kitchen, data hub (accelerator), data space (interactive workshop space) and data hall (event space).
Berlin is the gateway to Europe and welcomes foreigners with open arms. According to the 2016 German Startup Monitor, 42% of founders in Berlin are not actually German citizens. 6.2% of startup founders aren’t even from the EU or Germany. Berlin is also a landing pad for Australian startups. Through Austrade and their partnership with Betahaus (one of the nicest coworking spaces in Europe), Aussie founders have the opportunity to arrive in Berlin and enjoy three months of assistance to help them situatie themselves. The German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce is also more than willing to assist startups, founders and companies looking to engage more with Germany.
Truth time? Berlin is like a coworking space on steroids. It is a melting pot of cultures and experiences with a community that is open and willing to share ideas and provide perspectives.
If only some of these attributes would rub off on Sydney.
I would personally like to thank the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Lufthansa for making my recent trip to Berlin possible.