The German Startup Ecosystem, from a broader-than-Berlin Perspective

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Written by Kathleen Fritzsche

German startup scene is discussed on a global level since a few years already, no big news. Berlin is establishing itself as one of the most important startup hubs in Europe, and deservedly so. Germany’s capital hosts some of the most interesting startups (e.g. Gidsy, Betterplace, Smava, Wooga…), important incubators and accelerators (Team Europe, Springstar, etc.), highly influencing VC’s (e.g. Point Nine Capital, Earlybird…) and some of the most profitable copycats -well, you know whom I’m talking about, don’t you?-. It’s obvious that Berlin has long left behind this mouldy image which it had just after the Fall of the Wall. As the environment is highly creative and open-minded -hopefully staying like this-, it is the perfect breeding ground for the next big thing. Trends are being set there, mostly in online and mobile business though.

However, there is so much more in Germany besides Berlin. Startup ecosystems are popping up everywhere in Germany. You have Hamburg, of course, with young companies as Qype, Jimdo and SugarShape -who where the winners of Startup Weekend Hamburg in 2011, by the way- and a massive creative environment with all the agencies. But there is also Munich with e.g. Amiando and quite a lot of important VC’s (e.g. Munich Venture Partners and Wellington Partners). Cologne has recently surprised me on a high level when I attended the much praised and refreshingly different Pirate Summit. The startup scene there is strong, seeing e.g. Simfy, Armedangels and Linguee growing rapidly in the past few years. Last but not least, we shouldn’t forget Stuttgart. The founder’s scene is still small there and mostly focused on e-commerce but with such promising companies as Simpleshow, RegioHelden, Conceptboard and Sellaround, I can’t wait to see evolving it in the upcoming years.

We shouldn’t forget all the university cities as well: from Aachen (where e.g. private carsharing platform Tamyca comes from), over Dresden with Startnext as important crowdfunding platform, Leipzig with Spreadshirt and Grünschnabel, Passau (with Mymuesli of course, but also Green Cup Coffee), Friedrichshafen (at the Bodensee; say hello to the successful cookie manufacturer Knusperreich), to Karlsruhe with its broad tech and health care startup scene. Companies as Honestly, Flinc and Gloveler have been founded there and are reaching a bigger scope now.

All the coworking spaces in every imaginable location are supporting these movements of course. They are a perfect platform for freelancers and entrepreneurs to meet and to build up a strong and valuable network. In addition, all the Startup Weekend events are motivating the younger generation to change their possible future in a big and boring corporation for a highly risky but exciting entrepreneur career. Besides the established ones, we see some new ones emerging recently (e.g Cologne, Lüneburg, even Frankfurt).

All in all, Berlin is still the place to be if you want a powerful and easily accessible startup infrastructure and network, also getting direct access to VC’s and their money. Nevertheless, other cities are doing a good job in order to become attractive for future entrepreneurs. The movement is coming from the bottom; don’t forget that we have to direct the startup revolution. So join us in this thrilling journey!