Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly aiming at the tech startup scene. The city ranks as the second-best performing European startup environment (after London). Based on the data in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, Berlin continues to move up the ranking from #9 in 2015 to #7 in 2017.
Ten years ago, the city was considered as just a little spot on Europe’s technology map; now the industry counts an estimated 1,800-2,400 active tech startups. Some categories that show signiﬁcant growth rates in Berlin are digital health, artiﬁcial intelligence, and mobility. According to the aforementioned report, Berlin has the 2nd highest percentage of immigrant founders(43%), trailing only the Silicon Valley.
At Desmart we have worked with clients from many European countries, including Germany. During Polish Tech Night in Berlin, I had the opportunity to check what the connections of the Polish startup scene with German investors look like.
Berlin - a gate to the German market for Polish startups
Poland - Berlin’s closest neighbour country - offers a fast-growing tech industry and a startup community. For the last couple of years, Ula Lachowicz has been involved in the organization of - a series of meetings which promote mutual benefits of cooperation within the startup industry between Berlin and Poland.She is also one of the initiators of Polish Tech Night in Berlin. “What Berlin has to offer to the Polish startups, is the access to the technological hub, that is the investors, acceleration programs, supporting organizations, businesses that are looking for innovative solutions tailored for them, as well as the community, coworking initiatives or events”, she says. “There is simply a considerably bigger number of such opportunities in Berlin than in any Polish city”.
The idea of Polish Tech Night
The goal of the meeting is to discuss differences and similarities between the Polish and Berlin startup scenes and to build a bridge between them.
Organizers are working with Polish and German entities to help establish cooperation with potential partners and market players from startups, investors and industry associations.
“Poland is famous for its good developers. Polish startups are looking for investments on a higher financial level than what they can get in Poland, they are also looking to expand their network abroad. The German investors, on the other hand, can observe the high saturation of the German market, so they are looking for fresh ideas from Poland. It is a true win-win situation” - emphasizes Ula Lachowicz.
German-Polish tech workshops
The aim of the event is to showcase the mutual benefits of the German-Polish cooperation and share experience.
Thanks to the courtesy of the organizers, I had the opportunity to participate in workshops dedicated to startups. The speeches concerned very useful aspects of running a startup in Berlin. In my opinion, the issues mentioned in the following presentations: "Advantages for moving your startup to Berlin", "Law aspects of running startups in Germany" or “Beyond money – what to expect from good VC and how to find one?” accurately depicted the specificity of the Berlin startup ecosystem.
Every Startup Needs Networking
Networking is essential for a successful startup founder, so the main part of Polish Tech Night is the evening event.
The pivotal point of the program were pitches from 7 Polish startups about their projects in front of investors and Berlin tech community. After the speeches, a networking session took place, which allowed the participants to get contacts to interested investors, businesses and the media.
Most startup owners agree that in their industry, networking and professional contacts are key, and events such as the “Polish Tech Night” are the best opportunity to establish them. The business cards are exchanging hands all the time, and after the official part of the event, the party swiftly moves to the nearby bars.
Berlin is a thriving ecosystem where one can find experts from all over the globe. The number of events and initiatives related to startups seems infinite. The experience of experts and investors who introduce the products on the new markets is also part of Berlin’s DNA. The German investors are well aware that they have to open up to foreign startups, if they want to find original solutions. And the Polish startups are just around the corner. For many business owners the drive to Berlin is even faster than the commute from Poznan, Szczecin or Wroclaw to Warsaw.