Why Berlin is hip for tech – Interview Series
Long, long time ago, before Berlin even knew it wanted to be hip again, I fell in love with the city. Of course Berlin always was a special city, but in the recent years (even months) it has become a hub for tech and startups.
Lots of articles (see some below) describe the new hotness of Berlin and part of that has to do with Berlin being really cheap and the amount of international visitors / expats. One of my interview partners (Igor Schwarzmann) summed it up: “getting speakers for our Cognitive Cities conference was easy – you just told them it would be in Berlin”. And while it may be hard to get funding in Germany / Europe, who cares? Get your funding some place else and then come to Berlin.
A friend once described being an artist to me as “that thing inside you which wants to come out no matter if you like it or not”. I don’t consider myself to be an artist, but that pretty much sums up a feeling I have about Berlin. So I decided to make a series of interviews with people from Berlin; how they got there, why they live there, why they find the city attractive, what inspires them and how they see the world.
Yes, these will be audio but fret not, I will provide you with show notes and links to their projects and social networks, so you can connect with them. And I hope you will fall in love with the city as much as I have!
Have suggestions for interview partner?
I already finished some interviews and am currently in post processing (will start posting next week): Joel Dullroy from Deskwanted, Joel Kaczmarek from Gründerszene, Igor Schwarzmann from Thirdwave, Matthäus Krzykowski from Xyologic, Oliver Beste from Founderslink. The people from Soundcloud are hard to get but already on the list. ;)
I have some ideas of who I want to talk to next, but if you know somebody interesting, let me know in the comments or forward this link. I am specifically looking in the tech / startup sector, but also maybe some design sprinkles.
To get you started in looking at Berlin
Two blogs started writing about the tech scene in Berlin and yes they are in English. A word play on Silicon Valley, the blog Silicon Allee also holds meetups (@siliconallee Facebook). Also dealing with startups is Techberlin (@techberlin Facebook).
Berlin may soon become the place to be for tech entrepreneurs. Berlin may soon become the place to be for tech entrepreneurs. Berlin is home to an ever increasing number of innovative new technology start-up companies — to the point that even Silicon Valley venture capitalists are taking notice. With a new focus on the country, many companies are beginning to innovate rather than simply clone successful American ideas.
“It’s a big enough city that whatever you’re interested in you can dive into.” Germany’s reunified capital is now one of the most visited cities in Europe and its inner courtyards teem with artists exploring music or creating installations. “A lot of people are attracted by Berlin, Berlin itself is a start-up,” said Alexander Ljung. “It’s growing fast, it’s fairly chaotic. Nobody knows exactly where it’s going but it’s going in the right direction.”
CNBC: Berlin’s new techno beat
“… that are helping to make Berlin such a paradise for start-ups: a cosmopolitan array of young, multilingual skilled workers, swathes of cheap, attractive, post-industrial office space, supportive public agencies, a good infrastructure and growing interest from foreign venture capital.”
“Ecosystem-wise, Berlin has some things going for it that most Western European capitals lack. For starters, it’s cheap to work and live there. Culturally and historically, Berlin is a more natural gateway between Europe’s mature Western economies and the surging talent in Eastern Europe. And Berlin has a surging creative class, largely made up of transplants. It’s become the place where misfits in Europe– people who want to be artists and creators, people who don’t fit in rigid social structures of cities like London– flock to do what they want.”
In fact, Berlin is cheap — that’s part of the appeal. Soaring real estate prices have driven the starving artists out of downtown Paris, London and New York. But Berlin, with no real industry to speak of, has only the artists to rely on. Here, coolness is an economic survival strategy. As Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit puts it, coining the city’s unofficial motto, “Berlin is poor — but sexy.”
“Berlin has made culture its primary industry,” Berlin festival boss Dieter Kosslick says. “Music, film, art, fashion — that’s been the driving force, the creative industries. It’s an extremely culture-rich, extremely international city.” Caterer K.P. Kofler is more blunt: “Berlin is everything Germany is not: spontaneous, exciting, open and cosmopolitan.”
Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital is vibrant with tourists, artists, and entrepreneurs. The city is home to over 200 startups, more than in Munich, Hamburg and Cologne combined. Berlin’s leadership in this domain is perhaps unexpected – it has hardly ever been an economic centre in Europe or even Germany. […] “For people who are basically looking for a big career and a lot of money, Berlin is not the right place. But if you are motivated by other things, like creating and learning, Berlin is perfect”
Photo credit: 8.23 you make me smile by dabboj, on Flickr