WTF Berlin

The week is four days old. I am in my new job since four days. We announced the closing of our 180m€ venture fund on Monday. I spent the first day on my to-be-commuting life between Stockholm and Berlin. It was good to be back. Here is my 2016 post, and my prediction: WTF Berlin!

What the f is happening in Berlin? I met four companies this week, all of them impressive. The quality of companies over the last four years has been increasing to such a degree, that meetings are so refreshing and thrilling.

1. Berlin knows how to pitch
I wrote it before, and I say it again: the quality of pitches in Berlin has increased significantly. To a degree where I am stunned. It is such a blast to meet with people who so adroitly articulate complicated technologies or give motivational speeches on how to conquer markets. To jointly brainstorm about strengths and weaknesses of certain approaches. This is the part of the job that I enjoy the most. It simply tickles when you meet someone who burns for his idea, and you feel he/she is on to something.

The bar is rising.
2. Berlin is connected to capital like never before
We VCs often like to believe we have proprietary access to deal flow, in our region, in our vertical. That is possible if the other side of the table does not know how reach out to captial. That might have been the case some years ago. Today, with active super angels who have built tight relatioships with the top VCs in Europe and the US, no deal is proprietary any more. Or maybe, I am missing these. But when a 3 founder team in Kreuzberg working from their apartment is already talking to some of the top 5 VCs in Europe a week after launch, you know that access to capital is ubiquitous.

Plus factor in the Americans:

us-in-eu Cheers to Adam for the data.

And this is great for Berlin. This will change things. The pace will increase. We as VCs need to adopt our processes, we need to make quicker decisions, we need to be on top of things like never before.

I am looking forward to a fast paced 2016.

3. Berlins builds tech
Berlin can do e-commerce. Not that this is bad, but the single-focus-stigma we had some years ago can be dropped in 2016. Berlin builds tech. The mindset of technical founders, founding CTOs, quality of international tech talent and a “tech first focus” that I find in so many companies nowadays has clearly broadened the investment scope for companies in Berlin.

It is great to see some groundbreaking technology built in Berlin.

4. Berlin executes like hell
And yes, we can still execute like few others. When the Movinga guys told me last year some of the top level management had bought camping beds to not waste any time commuting to the office, I knew we would at least not be out executed. Cheers to Index for agreeing. Combine this with access to capital, and the technological foundations, and I am most certain we will make an even bigger dent on the European landscape.

5. Berlin is buzzing
7 investment funds to be closed this year in Berlin. Some few hundred million € raised with Berlin focus in the last 12 months. Funds like us who appoint dedicated Berlin fund managers and put both focus and money on the city. Professionalized founding processes. Lawyers who understand founder friendly contracts and know how to benchmark them internationally. Rent’s still ok. Food still amazing. Non-German-Speaking founders moving to the city to build their next company.

I have one prediction for the end of 2016. When we look back on this year in the Startup and Venture scene in the city, we will simply say: WTF Berlin!
  • Nuno Brito

    The Berlin that I know was struggling to be seen as credible, we’d often hear people mocking that you just get funded when pitching about any crappy idea related to e-commerce, IoT or bitcoins.

    That was one of the reasons why we started and simply stayed in Darmstadt, the proximity to heavy-weights in engineering (Software AG, SAP, Telekom, …) and focus on building something different. Only over time realized that Berlin was VERY good in other things not-directly related to heavy engineering. For example, Berlin is great on UX, marketing, life-style and just about anything consumer-oriented.

    In overall, made us consider to get closer with what happens in Berlin and learn from what they have to share. Plenty of good stuff happening there.

    • simonschmincke

      Ultimately, build your company where it works for you. The stuff you learn from spending time in a thriving startup environment where you get inspiration from other founders through daily exchange is a reason to start your thing in an active startup environment. No matter if Berlin or not.