The Local – a site on which you can read local (in this case German) news in English – is not a news source that I would expect to have a particular expertise on startups. Nevertheless an article titled How the Berlin startup scene is wasting its potential which was published there made the rounds last week, also among startup circles.
Some of the points raised apply to startups everywhere: I have yet to see a startup ecosystem which is not male-dominated (3.), including Sweden – which seems to be the author’s favorite. The Swedish startups mentioned by the author on a previous point (1.), Truecaller, Spotify and Tictail, are very much male-lead, having investors such as Atomico and KPCB, which are also male-dominated. Early-stage startups lacking experienced employees (4.) is the rule rather than the exception, too, and many of Berlin’s startups are still rather early-stage.
For some other points, I have seen examples of exactly opposite at startups in Berlin and I would argue that I have a more representative sample, being around a number different startups since late 2009, compared to the author Shaun Kemp, who seems to have worked for exactly one (!) startup (Twago) for 2 years, since he arrived in 2014, according to his LinkedIn. I have seen hierarchies that were anything but flat (5.), and I have seen innovation slowing down because of too much structure and hierarchy levels (7.) and (8.).
So what is actually going wrong in Berlin? First of all, I would say: not everything, or most things, as Kemp’s article seems to imply. Things are definitely not “ideal” though either. To give a current “case study”, consider Movinga.
Some people I know are hosting a conference this Tuesday at Betahaus. The program features investors, like Jana Scharfschwerdt, as well as some Berlin-local entrepreneurs, like Lisa Lang and Ghazaleh Koohestanian. The focus is a bit broader than at your usual startup event, with some finance- and other tech-related topics. Sign-up here!
Another edition of 4Q4, with Sissel Hansen, founder of Startup Guide and athlete participating in MOVE-MENT.
1) Denmark and Germany are neighbours and somewhat similar, but there’s also some differences. How do you think the entrepreneurship and business culture are different in Denmark?
In general, I only lived and worked in Berlin (and I guess the German entrepreneurial culture are different from the culture in Berlin), but there is something that is common for Berlin and the rest of Germany, which is the bureaucratic process of starting up a company.
It is extremely difficult to start a company in Germany in comparison to Denmark. In Denmark you can start a company in 5 min on the internet, in Germany it is a slow and sometimes expensive process.
2) I just signed up for my first run over a more or less long distance (7,75km). As you are a rather experienced and accomplished endurance athlete, what advice can give you me for that? 😉
Start slowly with the training. Remember that 90 % of the time you go for a run, you should it enjoy. The motivation to go out and train should not only be to accomplish the race but because you enjoy it. Then you will also get the training you need, and then you mind will do the rest when you are racing.
As you can also read over at Startüberlin – one of the lesser-known, sometimes only sporadically active, but in general pretty decent blogs on startups in Berlin – there is another event by Startup Guide Berlin coming up this week. Their events are usually good and this time it might get even better: There will be free food and drinks, that are probably – I can only assume – sponsored by Debitoor and Paychex, who are supporting this event. Plus, it will be a pub quiz, which is fun even when it is not about startups.
So, if you do not have any plans for Friday evening at 19:00, head on over to the Facebook event to sign up to meet the talented and attractive people working on Startup Guide Berlin and have some fun at Le Labo. I’m not sure how the formation of teams for the quiz will work and if putting your own team together will be allowed, but if you are serious about winning and would like to join mine, let me know on Twitter! – Otherwise, this event will also be the ideal opportunity for you to tell me that you think that my blog sucks etc. 😉