Seen as the Silicon Valley of Europe, or as they like to refer to it SiliconAllee, Berlin has become Europe’s hotspot for tech startups. With the rest of Europe in financial crisis, skilled young minds are making the move from their home country to Berlin. Meanwhile, investors from the UK and US are sending in scouts and establishing offices in the booming tech hub.
Why Berlin? Well, in spite of the foreign expectation that Germany would be a more expensive country to live in, the prices are very low. After passing through Barcelona and Madrid, the prices in Berlin for everything from clothes to food in a restaurant appear to be about half. And while in Barcelona it is difficult to walk a block without passing countless designer brand advertisements, two high-end clothing shops and four ATMs, in Berlin there is little cultural pressure on consumerism.
In Berlin, investments go a long way as founders and workers alike can take lower wages with the low cost of living. The lower burn rate allows companies a greater chance of success as they don’t have to raise as much money and are capable of having it last longer. With skilled youth arriving from all over Europe, it is very easy to create a dynamic team and target the company to markets outside of Germany. While in Berlin we met with many social media and marketing employees that could speak multiple languages, and had established networks of friends in their home country they could also reach out to.
As it stands right now, Berlin’s tech scene remains in the adolescent phase. While there are a few notable international companies that have emerged: Soundcloud and Wooga. Most of the companies attaining capital are ones that are copying ideas successfully implemented abroad. RocketInternet is a known venture capital company, that specifically focuses on investments in copycat ideas. Seeing as how Berlin is able to tap into all of the European markets, many start-ups in Berlin are following suit and simply knocking of American ideas and hoping to be the first to implement them in Europe. This copycat culture is recognized by Berliners in the start-ups scene, and to many is blamed on the advantage it offers for attaining investment. The growth outlook appears to be that the growing number of successful Berlin companies, not only create a return for the pool of investment funds already moving around within the region, but will attract further investments from abroad. Berlin is not lacking creative minds, so in time we will likely see more money chasing new ideas. Keep an eye out as your next favorite app may say “Made in Berlin”.