So You Want to Scale Your Startup in Berlin

Lessons learned from a 3-day mission exploring the Berlin Startup Ecosystem

Florent Mérian
Photo by Camilla Bundgaard on Unsplash

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Before deep diving into it, some facts :

  • 2 500 startups are located in Berlin,
  • 1 out of 3 jobs offers are in startups,
  • 46% of VC rounds in Germany are in Berlin.

First came the artists, then came the entrepreneurs.

Berlin is a city of history and change.

It all started in 1989, tearing down the wall which divided the city, its inhabitants and its culture for 28 years.

The city was a wasteland, people had to reinvent themselves and to start building from the ground up.

A City of Innovation and Talents

Berlin attracts around 50 000 new inhabitants per year.

Entrepreneurs from all over Europe can scale their companies amidst an ecosystem of top talents and supportive communities, like GTEC and its pay-it-forward mindset.

With growing international recognition as a major startup hub, leading support organizations are growing their footprint, too. Techstars started its Startup Program in 2015 and already invested in 60 companies, more than anywhere else. LeWagon also hosts its coding bootcamp in the city.

The Cost Factor

Living in Berlin is cheap.

While rental costs start rising up according to some local entrepreneurs, the city is still 20% cheaper than in Paris.

It might be worth considering to join one of the +100 co-working spaces available, including WeWork and Space Shack, for instance, two great places to work in town.

The German Hub for IoT and Fintech startups

The Berlin Startup Ecosystem is mainly built on three main trends :

  1. Fintech
  2. IoT
  3. Mobility

Startup Genome also reported Health and Life Science as a growing sub-sector in its Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018.

1. Fintech

While most value in Germany’s financial services industry is created in Frankfurt, Berlin remains at the top as far as Fintech is concerned.

The sub-sector is leading locally too, with roughly 10% of all VC investment between 2012 and 2017 poured into Fintechs.

Local sources project around 40 000 new jobs in Fintech during the next 10 years.

N26 is a consumer banking startup that raised $212 million to date and counts half a million customers.

2. IoT

Around half of Berlin’s IoT-focused organizations were founded in 2012 or later.

That said, renowned research centers and corporates are among them, too. German industry giant Bosch recently opened a large IoT campus, staffing 250 employees with the objective to connect with Berlin’s thriving innovation ecosystem.

IOTA is a Berlin-based startup that currently receives a lot of attention for having built an innovative decentral transaction layer for machine-to-machine interactions.

3. Mobility

As the European mobility market heats up, Berlin counts many fast-growing companies in its sub-sector, from transportation booking platform to scooter rental startup.

Also, car manufacturer Volkswagen recently opened a digital lab to foster its transition towards a data software driven company.

Delivery Hero, on its mission to create top takeaways experiences, grows to be active in +40 countries with +17K employees around the world.

4. HealthTech

Berlin’s relevance as a Health and Life Sciences hub is not a secret.

Three Universities rank in the top 50 globally in several Medical and Life Science disciplines, while Healthcare giants such as Bayer or Pfizer operate vertically focused labs and accelerator programs.

Ada Health is an emerging Health startup worth mentioning, leveraging AI to build an innovative medical app with almost $70 million in funding.

So you want to scale in Berlin.

The Berlin Startup Ecosystem is growing up, as entrepreneurs come from all over Europe to start and scale up amidst supportive communities, affordable workplaces, and leading tech hubs.

Think global, act local.

As there are geographical differences and challenges to solve as access to top talents, define your ambition.

It is all about building a great culture.


Discover new startup ecosystems, too.

Soft-Landing gives you the opportunity to dive in an intensive and immersive 3 to 5-day mission in another startup ecosystem, to explore it and meet with other key leaders, building bridges between them.

Learn more about the initiative.

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