Leading city for ambitious young businesses
With its vibrant cultural Scene (David Bowie once described Berlin as the greatest cultural extravaganza one could imagine’), a dynamic job market and modern infrastructure, it’s gained a reputation as one of the most relevant startup hubs in the world today. From tech platforms to fashion businesses, Berlin has them all.
The clue is in the numbers. Each year, roughly 44,000 new companies launch in Berlin – the equivalent of one new startup being founded every 20 minutes. Focusing in on the ICT, media and creative industries, there are over 37,000 companies based in Berlin; a workforce of almost 300,000 generating roughly £23bn (€27bn) in annual revenue.
Making the move
Rent in Berlin is generally cheaper than many other European capitals, whether you need office space or somewhere to live. The lower cost of living has attracted a steady flow of international talent, creating a dynamic market, with plenty of fresh ideas – ideal for businesses working in the creative industries. In Berlin, non-native employees make up around 34% of the startup workforce, and many foreigners flock to the city to kick off their own projects.
This is the case for Sophie Mayer and Leila El-Kayem, founders of innovative advertising agency The Adventures Of. Together, they help brands within travel, lifestyle and entertainment communicate to different subcultures. Originally from British and New Zealand respectively, they moved to Berlin and launched the company three years ago. Already, they have a global client list, including Nike, MTV and Airbnb. ‘We built The Adventures Of on the ethos of Berlin: a fringe city filled with misfits, poets, artists and dreamers, with high levels of artistic creation and expression,’ Sophie says. ‘That makes it the ideal place for us to gain daily inspiration.’
Less bustle, more hustle
With Brexit looming large on the horizon, cities like Berlin are preparing to welcome those seeking new pastures and more benign conditions to set up a European or global-facing business.
Jon Skyes, a UK-based creative, decided to leave the fast pace of London life to establish himself in Berlin. He’s co-founder of Us Berlin, a creative agency specialising in brand and web design. ‘I moved from London where I worked in large agency environments,’ he explains. ‘While I loved the pace and challenge, London lost its appeal as I wanted to take greater control of my direction and time.’ Jon and his business partner are already working on their second venture, Racemappr, a discovery platform that makes finding running, triathlon and cycling events easier.
Us Berlin is based in co-working space Betahaus, along with many other creative businesses. It’s one of many shared office spaces that have popped up across the city, providing a network for creative ideas, counselling and interdisciplinary cooperation to spread. Betahaus attracts a diverse array of international talent who are drawn to its cultural significance. Established in 2009, it’s since expanded to Hamburg, Barcelona and Sofia. In Berlin, it hosts over 500 members. Around 30% of these are startup founders, while the rest of the membership base is made up of freelancers from all backgrounds: from journalists to designers, all looking to connect and develop the next big thing.
Inside Betahaus: Co-working 3rd floor
This is part of a sector-by-sector series on startups in Berlin published by London based Courier magazine in association with Berlin Partner.