Sophie’s key learnings from 6 months in Berlin’s startup bubble

Blog 4 minutes read April 2024
Berlin startup bubble

Reflecting on my first six months in Berlin’s startup bubble, it hasn’t burst for me — quite the opposite. This blog post aims to share my key learnings for anyone considering a move to Berlin as a startup founder, scale-up, or VC and express my gratitude to those who made my start here incredibly welcoming.

Article by Sophie Dürr

To give you some context – I moved from Hamburg, where our DACH office is located, to Berlin about six months ago. The decision to move was strategic, a shared vision within Endeit that being physically present in Berlin was crucial for several compelling reasons:

  • Dealflow and presence: For one, we’ve noticed a significant dry-up in later-stage funding rounds within the startup ecosystem over the last two years, signaling the need for an increasingly proactive, hands-on approach in these pivotal phases.
  • After all, it is a people’s business: VC isn’t just about transactions; it’s deeply rooted in personal relationships, whether one-on-one interactions with founders or broader networking with fellow investors. Our move is rooted in the belief that proximity is crucial to understanding the nuances of each venture and showcasing our value-add as a VC firm.
  • Contributing to the ecosystem: As VCs, we are in the favorable position of being able to drive and promote change by setting up initiatives that go beyond investing. Berlin, with its dynamic ecosystem, presents the perfect backdrop for efforts such as co-hosting events, enabling a platform to empower diversity and inclusion, which is instrumental in shaping the future.

What have I learned so far?

The essence of Berlin’s startup ecosystem is the ‘Berliner Flurfunk,’ a concept similar to informal water cooler conversations or the inside scoop in the VC world. This informal exchange of information is particularly vibrant in Berlin Mitte – the heartland of VC funds and many startups – and has proven invaluable in a competitive market. It’s about the connections at casual meetings, the shared insights in a neighborhood café, the spontaneous discussions on a night out or after attending sports sessions together. Connectivity transcends professional settings and becomes part of everyday life in Berlin —you find yourself absorbing invaluable insights, essentially learning from the ecosystem by presence and engagement.

How to get started? Several approaches have worked for me

  • Securing office space: Avoid working from home; otherwise, moving to Berlin will not have any effect. Instead, consider starting with co-working spaces, typical for single GP-/first-time funds or young startups, which are great places to get started and meet new people. Another option that worked well for me was asking other VCs or startups whether they have a free table at their office to avoid hunting for meeting rooms, etc. Fortunately, I was welcomed by NGP Capital at Rosenthaler Platz, who could spare a table for my work setup (again, thanks to the whole team for being such fantastic co-workers). I like:
    • Co-working spaces in Mitte: Mindspace, WeWork, Factory, TheGate.
  • Staying informed: Newsletters like FOMO Berlin keep you updated of daily events. Also, ask other people to invite you to founder and VC WhatsApp groups, which usually provide many interesting insights. Overall, I can only recommend actively utilizing these resources and reaching out to people—this will get you a foot in the door very quickly.
  • Building connections: Don’t hesitate to reach out for introductions or approach people on LinkedIn, asking to meet them for a coffee. Return the favor of introductions and you will be amongst a larger group in a reasonably short period. Berlin’s startup ecosystem is remarkably open and collaborative. There’s this underlying doctrine: everyone’s looking to build or invest in something meaningful and understands the importance of support. Below are some very popular VC and startup lunch places in Mitte:
    • Coffee/juice spots: The Barn, Juicery, Erchy’s, or any other healthy options in Mitte close to Rosenthaler Platz.
    • Lunch spots: KlubKitchen, Lucy’s Deli, Daluma, Monsieur Wong, Mädchenitaliener, JIGI Poke, Yumcha Heroes.
  • Embracing the scene: From co-working spaces to sports classes, consider them gateways to your next introduction. Generally, an Urban Sports Club / Classpass membership might be worth investing in if you are a sporty person. Below are some pretty popular sports locations to choose from for your next networking meet-up:
    • Sports classes: Rocycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Ride Berlin, BeCycle, Ohaia.

Conclusion to some of the most burning questions on moving to Berlin

  • Is it hard to break into the Berlin VC scene?
    Absolutely not; connecting with people here is remarkably straightforward.
  • Is the Berlin VC and startup scene indeed a bubble?
    If so, it is a thriving, dynamic one that is constantly expanding with opportunities. It’s less about creating a buzz than about sparking action.
  • Was it worth the move?
    Absolutely, the city’s energy is contagious and the ‘Berlin Flurfunk’ shows in an increasing number of startup and VC engagements.

Looking ahead, with more startups to meet, more ideas to explore, more coffees to drink and more actions to take, Berlin’s startup scene continues to surprise and inspire me.

Whether you are old or new to the city, consider this an open invitation: let’s share insights over coffee. Reach out via my LinkedIn.

Sophie Dürr

Sophie Dürr

Tamara Hartman

Endeit refers to the following statement in connection with the sustainable finance disclosure regulation (SFDR), available here.

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