Berlin is rollin’ hard right now – it’s mentioned as the next most awesome European tech hub after London by almost everyone who’s in the startup or tech industry. But why?
Berlin has been an increasingly developing tech city for a couple of years now, but in the light of recent events (*cough* Brexit *cough*), more and more eyes seem to be on the German capital as a potential new home or business hub. Let’s have a closer look at what it’s got to offer.
If you’re specifically looking for the epic London vs Berlin match (which we’ll try to leave out of this one for the most part) check out our previous post about European alternatives for London, or go directly to the London and Berlin comparison page on Teleport Cities to see the details for yourself.
Life in Berlin (according to real people)
Just so we don’t only yap about our own data (the data bit is coming as well, worry not), let’s start out with some external comments.
We talked to Siim Teller from Wire to learn what it’s like to build a startup in Berlin, Federico Prandi – author of the hilarious Berlin-based blog called A More Quiet Place, to see how what he thinks of the city, and to top it off – Kristjan, one of our team members, lived there this spring.
Berlin for Wire
“Berlin has been a great choice for Wire – the tech and startup scene has really stepped up in the last three years. There’s no shortage of co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators to cater for those in the very early phases. There also good relocation companies available which will save you a lot of stress when dealing with the local bureaucracy of relocating staff from both within the EU but also from outside.
It’s been very easy to attract world class stuff – Berlin has a great location, good connecting flights, affordable living and great vibe.
It’s not all plain sailing though. German bureaucracy is notorious, so be prepared to hire a good finance person from day one, and having a good lawyer on tap is also a must. Banks don’t have good startup friendly services yet, and tax rules for employees can be tricky if they have income from other sources, especially from outside of Germany.
It’s possible to get on nicely without speaking German, although if you have kids and they go to kindergarten or school then things get trickier. Even when dealing with bilingual kindergartens and schools, some of the bureaucracy can be in German.
The tech and startup scene in Berlin is perhaps not as important to central or local government as it is in London or Tallinn – there’s less PR and support for it, but we’ve had regular contact with local politicians who’ve reached out to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Berlin for Federico
“Living in Berlin means stumbling on a daily basis into different cultures and nationalities. After six years in this city I am still not fluent in German but I’m able to curse in every European language.
The startup scene is fervent. Even though the city has a reputation of being laid-back and relaxed when it comes to working hours, throughout the years I’ve met a good number of relentless workaholics who were trying to launch their careers.
Against all odds, I absolutely love Berlin’s weather. I love the impossible rigid winters in which the city feels dead and I love its resurrection in the summer, with its late sunsets and everybody drinking on the streets.”
Berlin for Kristjan
“A big part of Berlin’s coolness has to do with the many faces of the city – it has 12 districts and they are all really different. One evening I was cycling home from a startup event – one moment you are in Charlottenburg with all the poshness and fancy shops, and 10 minutes later you are in artsy Kreuzberg and there seems to be some kind of art event happening in a bar, so you park your bike and go check it out. It’s also a very open and tolerant city. London is probably more similar to Berlin than any other german city.”
There you go – straight from actual witnesses. Berlin seems to be a great place for both learning to swear internationally (very important) as well as building your startup. Extensive research by the more nomadic Teleport team members has shown that it also has amazing doner kebabs.
Also, bonus quote from a recent TechCrunch piece:
“Seemingly overnight, we have become Europe’s next great tech hub. As a startup founder, I love the scene that has sprouted up here. It channels the city’s creative energy — which has contributed to vibrant art, film and TV, gaming and publishing industries — into solving problems through technology.” – Vouter Werhoog for TechCrunch
Life in Berlin (according to data)
According to our data on Teleport Cities, Berlin is among the top cities with a free business environment. It ranks as a pretty awesome place to live with high ratings in housing, startups and venture capital.
Berlin is also one of the top ten city matches for a good chunk of Teleport users: 31.7%.
Let’s look at all the cumulative life quality scores for Berlin:
Berlin seems to be winning in housing, startups, venture capital, travel connectivity, business freedom, healthcare and, of course – being the hip and cool city it is – leisure and culture.
Taxation is something to complain about, even if we just look at the effort that has to be put in it – the average time spent on doing taxes in Berlin is 218 hours per year. Sounds gross, but then again, if we look at the rest of Europe, it’s not that stellar elsewhere, either:
Well, like Siim said, “German bureaucracy is notorious” – but considering that Berlin ranks so highly on most other stuff, we’ll forgive it for the tax mayhem.
Let’s look at some other general life scores for Berlin:
The daily amount of sunshine is pretty low, so we’ll complain about that. However, English proficiency is doing good (we’ve heard from several non-German friends that it’s perfectly possible to get along in Berlin without actually speaking the language).
University quality is also alright, and tolerance towards minorities isn’t exactly low. Getting around without a car is relatively cheap if you look at the monthly public transit pass price, and hey – if you get sick of the lack of sunshine, a cheap beer will probably cheer you up.
Want to dig more into the details on the life quality scores we mentioned above plus other stuff as well? Check out the Berlin city profile.
Startup scene in Berlin
Looking at specifically the startup environment, we have six data points that are important to anyone snooping around for their next favourite tech hub:
- Amount of available startup jobs
- Venture capital score
- General startup scene score (composed of number of startups, increase in number of startups, startup jobs, city followers (on AngelList), investors, and jobs per startup)
- Number of tech events
- Increase in startup count
- Coworking spaces
Putting all of them together on a super cool radar chart, this is what we get:
All of the data points have a score from 1-10, which you can see on the chart as well. The only thing we could kind of moan about is the raw count of tech events – namely 118 in Berlin. Although, considering how much Berlin is flying off right now, we can probably assume that that number will increase in the near future.
The general startup scene score for Berlin is great, so it matches with everyone else stating what a great tech hub it is and has the potential to be. Data + real life experience = awesome proof!
What’s your experience with Berlin? Do you think it’ll become the next big hub now that the situation with London is uncertain? Let us know!