Berlin is full of expats working and looking for work in Berlin. It is difficult to walk down a street in central Berlin without hearing a familiar English sentence being uttered in an American, British, Australian and occasionally a Kiwi accent. Expats arrive here in crowds annually armed with working holiday visas (unless you’re lucky enough to hold an EU passport) and many of these people find positions in the widely available Berlin start-up companies.
Before the Cold war, Berlin was known as a major manufacturing hub of Germany. However, this changed when West and East Berlin were separated forcing an isolated economic state. After reunification, Berlin failed to regain its economic state as before and remains one of the cities in Germany with one of the lowest incomes per capita. After the Federal government relocated from Bonn to Berlin, the financial situation improved as did the employment situation with many government jobs being created. Most banks set up Headquarters in Frankfurt, which is still thriving today as Germany’s financial and business centre.
So as industry retreated from Berlin and other German cities began to flourish as trade centres, Berlin established its own uniqueness. Events such as the Berlinale film festival and Popkomm – Europes largest annual music convention bring in crowds annually. Berlin became a centre for creative arts and has transformed into a youthful and culturally rich centre in Europe boasting a massive underground scene, a city rife with art galleries and museums.
It became a Mecca for the design and tech youth of Germany. And perhaps due to this installation of inventive, educated, creative minds, Berlin has become a thriving start-up hub of Europe.
When arriving here initially I had been looking for work in any German city and had my heart set on working in Cologne. When I got my job and moved up to Berlin I found out how coveted jobs in the German capital were among expats settling here. Soon after relocating to Berlin I found out how ubiquitous the start-up culture is here.
Each interview I had prior to accepting my job was with a small ambitious business that had been operating for less than two years each. Berlin is known throughout Europe for its growing number of small businesses still in their infancy but with huge ideas and potential for massive growth. Businesses like Roomsurfer, Getyourguide, Madvertise, Waymate, are but a few of the names which were born here in the German capital.
Several of these growing companies are app based such as SoundCloud, 6Wunderkinder, EyeEm and Readmill to name a few.
And why are all of these companies developing their business in the German capital? It could be the notoriously low rent of Berlin office space and apartment buildings from which many of the small start up companies operate. The cost of living is also very affordable in Berlin, and I’ve written about this before. Food costs particularly still pleasantly surprise me.
Entertainment and even public transport is very affordable in Berlin especially when compared with another metropolitan city like London. So it seems quite natural that recruiting staff to work in the German capital wouldn’t be a difficult task especially when coupled with the alluring Berlin nightlife and historically rich centre.
It could also be the creative, youthful and diverse nature of the Berlin districts which can only serve to feed innovative and thriving new ideas.
Berlin has a very close knit start up community. Many of my friends who work for different businesses know each other through the social opportunities and networking of the Berlin start-up community. Founders meet up readily with entrepreneurs and a very knowledge sharing friendly society has been fostered among these people.
It seems to be the perfect place for this particular, inventive business to flourish.