berlin startups

Startups in Berlin



scene hurdle (2) cosmopolitan
poach founder entrepreneur
rate network charm offensive
lure promise offensive (2)
set up trust (2) ride the wave
perks potential disappoint
charm trade (2) right place and right time
launch wave (2) like-minded
join analytics credential
sector blue card streamline
apply replace seek/sought/sought
hire venture in terms of
fund overtake venture capital
attract space (2) show around
lenient promise bureaucracy
attract authority freelancer
fill out rule (2) bookkeeping
chance red tape navigate (2)
choose sense (2) guarantee






It’s cheap, cosmopolitan, with a happy party scene. Berlin has the perfect credentials to attract young entrepreneurs.

A new startup is founded every twenty hours in the German capital. And now with Brexit, the rate is expected to increase.

Berlin has launched a charm offensive to attract London-based startups. German political parties are actively trying to lure businesses away from the island. The German capital has even set up an office in London to aid its poaching efforts.

Travis Todd is an entrepreneur from the US. He traded the perks of Silicon Valley for Berlin’s promise — the city didn’t disappoint.

He’s already founded three startups here.

Travis Todd, Siliconallee Founder: “I saw the potential of Berlin and saw that it was the right place and right time to be here and kind of ridden that wave ever since.

It’s an international city. Everyone speaks English. It’s really easy to network and find like-minded creative people, so it’s a really great place to be a young, creative startup founder.”

Nick Franklin works just across the street in the city startup district. Nick moved to Berlin from Manila in the Philippines to set up an analytics firm.

For the Brit, still an EU citizen, getting working papers was easy. And Germany’s lenient immigration laws meant his South Korea wife could join him within days.

For some sectors, the application process has been streamlined.

Nick Franklin, ChartMogul Founder & CEO: “If you do have people apply from outside of Germany who are in an important sectors and things like engineering, and it’s actually possible to hire those people in this blue card system where it possible.

So really hiring has been made easier from within the European Union, within Germany and also outside of Germany because of the immigration policy.”

Berlin has long sought to replace London as Europe’s top destination for startups and it’s had some success.

In 2015, Berlin overtook London in terms of venture capital investments making up 2.1 billion Euros in venture capital funding, while the British capital attracted 1.8 billion.

But London continues to be the favorite home for startups, especially financial technology companies. There are around 3,000 tech startups in Berlin compared to 5,400 in London.

Travis is showing us around a new startup complex in Berlin. It’ll be called Silicon Alley, after a website that he founded.

Startups could eventually be moving into many such offices spaces though there’s a hurdle: they have to be able to navigate complex German bureaucracy.

Travis Todd, Siliconallee Founder: “There’re a lot of trust issues with self-employed people or freelancers as well.

And dealing with the finance as well: the tax authorities treat you like you’re a corporation, and you have an accounting department and a bookkeeping department and know all the rules and can fill out all the correct forms even when you’re just a sole entrepreneur.”

The Berlin government has promised to remove such hurdles. In the meantime, Stefan Franzke and his team at Berlin Partners are helping non-German business founders navigate city’s red tape.

Stefan Franzke, Berlin Partner for Business and Technology: “Someone might come here for example, who needs a visa or who has a question involving bureaucracy.

The forms are in German, of course.

But we have what’s called a business immigration service. We give companies the chance to ask questions and guarantee them that their need will be met within a week.”

Britain’s exit from the European Union will take time. But Berlin senses opportunity and the current uncertainty in London. And the city is happy to welcome startups that choose the German capital over the British one.

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1. New startups in Berlin happen all the time and are very common. True or false?

2. Berlin is competing with London. Yes or no? What are Berlin officials doing with regards to London? What is Berlin’s goal?

3. Is Berlin traditional and conservative or open and diverse? Do you have to speak German in Berlin?

4. Are there any disadvantages or drawbacks of working and doing business in Berlin?

5. The authorities are more used to dealing with corporations and large companies than with freelancers. Is this right or wrong?

6. There are agencies and consultancies that help foreigners set up businesses and reside in Berlin. Is this correct or incorrect?

7. Which city has the advantage, Berlin or London?


A. Do you or your friends work for a startup? What does it do?

B. My friends and I would like to create startups. Yes or no? If yes, what sort of ideas do you have?

C. Are there many startups in your city? Is there a tech center or tech hub?

D. Do people want and welcome a tech or startup scene in your city? What could or should the government do to encourage startups?

E. What will happen in the future?


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