Doing business in Berlin IX: final thoughts

The activity in Berlin has been relevant during the last 5 years, and now it has become one of the main hubs for startups in Europe, fighting for number one with London. And not only for startups. Berlin is becoming the center of Germany for “digitization,” the movement that connects startups and innovation with big companies.

Affordability and quality of life are pluses and make Berlin a nice city, especially from March to October. The landing is easy, but the learning curve is upside-down and getting established here is quite complicated.

Many of the factors mentioned in this article are common when you move to any country or city. Berlin is not Germany, it’s been said, but of course if you like the “Northern” mentality, you’ll adjust perfectly.

Networking is easy in Berlin, with a high number of events and new opportunities. Also their way of doing business is very clear and honest, and you get feedback fast.

If you come here to start a company, you will find some pros: open minded environment, access to talent and investors, easy and cheap lifestyle, but also come cons: not easy to incorporate a company, high taxes, and competition for talent/investors/media attention. The reason you’re here is not mainly to do business in Germany, whose market is not big enough for a true startup anyway.

The scene in Berlin is very international and the contacts and learnings you get from here will be useful for actual and also future projects. So what you create here will add value to you.

Of course sometimes it may be hard, competitive, and you’ll feel small surrounded by giants. I say that it’s like playing in the “Champions League.” Many times you’re not the star, and it’s quite hard even if you are a “local star”, but it’s the League that should be played.

Nobody knows what will happen in 2-3 years. Now a lot of money from investors is coming in, the startup scene is famous, and it can attract many more people. In the city you can feel it- many new buildings, offices and houses are being built. Also, prices are rising. The big questions are: Is the Startup industry enough for the city, can Berlin become an expensive city but still attract the right people, and can it create the needed infrastructure. Who knows? But in the meantime, Berlin is the place to be or at least to visit frequently and keep your eye on.

Definitely Berlin is one of the best places to be, now and in the next 3-5 years if you’re working with startups, and probably the best quality of life you will find if you’re starting a project.

Berlin: what happens when you become a veteran.

Probably for many readers it’s too early to talk about this, but let me give you a personal vision of your future.

Maybe you’ll never become a vet. As many people do, you can enjoy Berlin for some months and then leave the city. Maybe because of winter, lack of apartments to rent or whatever. But if you stay here, it will be because you love something here.

The life is easy, and you can have many cheap and rewarding activities, like walking in green spaces or having a beer anyplace. You’ll have your list of favorite places that contribute to feeling at home, and also many new options every day to be discovered.

You’ll have a small group of friends to meet often and also many others to share time with during the short time they are in the city. With this combination you’ll  never feel bored.

Something similar happens with events. You’ll have the ones that you never miss, others that you attend regularly and many others appearing every month to learn about new things. And why not, others that don’t fit your expectations you avoid.

There’s nothing special. I guess this is what happens in every big city. There are many cities emerging, and I’m following them. Some are worth spending time in, but Berlin mixes the best of them.The main difference is that here you can never feel bored or stuck in a routine. The many new companies, institutions, events and people arriving in the city make you feel like you’re always somewhere new, so in my opinion the best place is Berlin.

That also hides a trap. You’ll feel like you’re having the same conversation every day. The “arriving conversation”: how cool is Berlin, how many new people are here, how difficult is finding a house…. The best way to avoid it? It’s starting conversations with new topics, trying to know the business of people or asking about topics of their daily activities, the technologies they use or the blogs they follow to get information. It’s really easy to start a conversation with the same-old “topics” but you’ll never get value from them.

And for a mix of everything mentioned here, or for maybe no reason at all, life is easy, but also challenging. I personally miss Berlin more when I’m a couple of weeks away much more than the place I spent more than 30 years of my life. Sometimes I even miss the language, but honestly, never the winter.

In Berlin you never know who will be here tomorrow or what new things will happen. Enjoy the moment, take what’s offered to you today and be ready for the new things coming in the near future.


You can read more in:
Doing business in Berlin I
Doing business in Berlin II: events and networking
Doing business in Berlin III: coworking and accelerators
Doing business in Berlin IV: market and trends
Doing business in Berlin V: Incorporating in Germany
Doing business in Berlin VI: Living here
Doing business in Berlin VII: Salaries and taxes
Doing business in Berlin VIII: Hiring in Berlin (and what to expect if you’re looking for a job)
Doing business in Berlin IX: final thoughts
Brexit: an opportunity for Berlin to grow

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