Berlin Startups |

Berlin Startups

By QS Contributor

Updated July 3, 2019 Updated July 3, 2019

This article is sponsored by ESMT. Learn how their MBA program prepares future entrepreneurs.


Berlin’s startup scene, lovingly nicknamed “Silicon Allee”, and touted as one of the emerging 'Silicon Valleys of Europe’, has garnered noticeable interest in the past few years. As YouTube co-founder, Jawed Karim, said at Hy!, a technology conference in Berlin, “Berlin is well on its way to becoming one of the most vibrant startup hubs in the world.”

Welcome to Silicon Allee

Berlin startups choose the German city as their base for a number of reasons: inexpensive, large and attractive office space; a vibrant underground music scene, stylish bars, and cutting-edge art galleries; as well as an ever-expanding  population of young, eager, and tech-savvy developers, designers and programmers.

It’s relatively easy to find financing, thanks to an active venture capital and business angel ecosystem. Plus, German regulations on international hiring are far less stringent than those of countries like the United States. In fact, Berlin’s politicians are trying to make it easier for international workers to get visas by fast-tracking applications from technology professionals. Currently, 44% of all new entrepreneurs in “Silicon Allee” are not German citizens, contributing to a colorful and culturally diverse setting.

Here are some startups that have made their home in Berlin:

  • SoundCloud
  • EyeEm
  • Gidsy
  • Wooga
  • madvertise
  • eDarling
  • ResearchGate
  • Delivery Hero

Today, Berlin ranks behind only London for the number of startups founded within a European city. This exciting startup scene continues to grow, developing a culture that emphasizes the intersection of creativity and technology. For the most part, Berlin startups eschew traditional bureaucratic structures and opt instead for a more relaxed environment – an environment that focuses on generating great ideas and technological breakthroughs. It’s no wonder, then, that instead of seeking jobs at larger, more established companies, young and gifted individuals are flocking to Berlin startups.

Berlin’s Startup Network

Home to 2,500 startups that employ approximately 30,000 people, Berlin’s startup network is expansive. There is an active startup networking and mentoring community, ranging from small gatherings to startup conference events sponsored by the likes of Mercedes Benz, Amazon, and Bosch. Employees and founders of Berlin startups have ample opportunities to network, collaborate, and learn from both top executives and engineers.

Schools based in Berlin that have MBA programs, such as the European School of Management and Technology (commonly known as ESMT) also offer their own startup networking options.

“ESMT offers great mentoring opportunities with well-connected coaches and alumni,” say ESMT MBA students, Jasmin Beshir and Junayd Mahmood, co-presidents of ESMT’s entrepreneurship club. Thanks to the recent increase in students interested in entrepreneurship, say Beshir and Mahmood, “the internal network is stronger, there’s greater cross-pollination of ideas and more interaction points with the larger startup community here.”

Berlin Startup Jobs

With Berlin’s revenue from the IT sector growing by 20% last year, far exceeding the city’s overall economic increase of 1.2%, Berlin startups are gaining a great deal of attention from across the globe.

In 2012 alone, the city attracted 173 million euros (US$226 million) in venture funding--a 176% increase from 2009. A new study showed companies in Berlin were three times more likely to attract investment from outside the EU than counterparts in other parts of Germany. The big tech companies are also investing - Google recently invested $1.3 million in a large office facility in Berlin dubbed the Factory, a spot designed to bring tech entrepreneurs together in one place. Microsoft has also launched the startup-focused Microsoft center which, according to a statement from Microsoft, will see Berlin become Microsoft’s most important European hub.

For those seeking Berlin startup jobs, this is all great news. It seems that there has never been a better time to enter the Berlin startup job market: with such strong foreign interest, Berlin startups are able to continually look for bright, innovative individuals seeking to create and develop exciting new products and services.

“We were definitely aware that Berlin is a growing startup hub, but we weren’t quite certain where our careers would head after the MBA,” say Beshir and Mahmood. “But the fact that we had the opportunity to participate in the startup community was a strong selling point, since we’re both interested in starting our own ventures at some point in our careers.”

Berlin-based universities and schools have been quick to pick up on the trend and integrate Berlin’s booming startup scene into curriculum and club-based projects and studies.

“Our approach to entrepreneurship is evolving,” says Nick Barniville, the program director for degree programs at ESMT. In addition to continuing to offer a mandatory core course in entrepreneurship for all full-time and Executive MBA students, ESMT has an MBA Entrepreneurship Club and Alumni Entrepreneurs Club.

“We work together with our MBA Club to host events together with the local entrepreneurship community,” says Barniville. Additionally, “we have an incubator, which is deliberately nothing more than an office with a telephone and Wi-Fi, as well as a postal address. MBAs can use this space for a year after their program at no charge, but we strongly encourage them to pitch their ideas to incubators within the city’s many other existing creative spaces to build their network.”

As for those individuals looking to join a pre-existing startup, Beshir and Mahmood believe that Berlin is a great place to dive in. “There’s a huge demand for certain professionals here, like developers and software engineers. You have to work a bit harder to find the marketing, business development, strategy and business intelligence positions though, since they probably offer more added value to more mature startups. But there are definitely opportunities if you look for them!”

This article is sponsored by ESMT. 

This article was originally published in September 2013 . It was last updated in July 2019

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