PSFK helps to find some substance amidst the hype in Europe’s Silicon Valley.
What do you get when you combine a creative melting pot, a hip image and low rents that make New York prices seem criminal? Berlin’s Silicon Allee – the most talked-about startup hub in Europe for several years now. Attracting thousands of innovative entrepreneurs looking to create the next big thing, the German capital is in many ways a startup itself, having reinvented itself from the “poor but sexy” underdog moniker Mayor Klaus Wowereit coined for it in 2003. Rivaling London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’, with global giants like Google opening offices in the city and Germany attracting more venture capital than the U.K. in the second quarter of 2013, it has become the epicenter of Europe’s Internet scene.
“Berlin today is a place that oﬀers a lot of opportunities both geographically and as a fertile playground for people to develop their ideas,” said JMES Investments Partner Simon Schaefer to Forbes in December 2013.
In a recent study, consultancy firm McKinsey estimated that Berlin startups could generate as many as 100 000 jobs by 2020, a breath of fresh air for a city with the highest unemployment rate in the country. With a growth in accelerators and incubators, such as Axel Springer’s Plug & Play, Berlin Startup Academy, The Factory and initiatives from companies such as Mozilla, Microsoft and Google, Berlin has proved it can bring cool and commerce together to produce exits of global significance.
Here’s a look into the 10 big names that are making waves:
It would be seen as almost sacrilegious to write about Berlin’s startup scene without mentioning SoundCloud, the city’s poster-child startup. As an online audio distribution platform founded in 2007 that enables users to upload, record, promote and share their music, it has transformed into biggest streaming site in the world, with 40 million registered users and 200 million listeners as of July 2013.
Described as a “mashup of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” ResearchGate is a leading social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. Founder Ijad Madisch envisions a future in which scientists will publish their research on his site instead of paying to publish it elsewhere. With 2.9 million members and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates being among the company’s investors, Madisch received the 2014 “Digital Innovation of the Year” award from Focus magazine.
Founded in January 2010, the free photo sharing mobile app for the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone platforms allows users to take and edit photos using seventeen filters and twelve frames, and share their photos via the website, email or on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare.
From guided tours to cooking classes to canal cruises, GetYourGuide has grown to be one of the world’s most successful online travel startups, acting as an online intermediary connecting tourists with suppliers of tours, attractions, excursions and activities. Founded in 2008 with offices in Berlin, Las Vegas, and Zurich, it currently offers more than 23,000 products in over 2,200 destinations with more than one million monthly visitors. After partnering with websites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia, it acquired competing website Gidsy in April 2013.
As a contraction of the sentence “world of gaming,” Wooga, founded in 2009, develops free-to-play browser-based games for social networks like Facebook. According to AppData, is currently the world’s 3rd biggest game developer on the Facebook platform, with approximately 50 million monthly active users.
The brainchild of a startup founded by six friends called 6Wunderkinder, Wunderlist is a cloud-based task-management app that allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer. Founded in 2010, it is one of the world’s most popular productivity applications attaining 6 million downloads as of November 2013.
Founded in 2008 as a personalized internet radio service operating in over 40 countries worldwide, Aupeo currently offers over 120 pre-developed stations covering a range of genres, themes or musical moods.
As Europe’s leading expert in mobile app marketing, reaching 500 million smartphone users in 190 countries, Trademob offers clients optimization technology (the algorithm switches between ad networks, for instance), and tools to see how campaigns for mobile apps are performing. Clients include Wooga, eBay classifieds and Universal Music.
Being the first European freelancer marketplace with an award-winning escrow service, twago (Teamwork Across Global Office) is an online platform which brings together clients with the experts they need in services ranging from programming, graphic and web design to translation and research – from anywhere in the world. Available in German, Spanish, Italian and English, its target group is predominantly small and medium sized businesses which can profit from all the advantages of outsourcing.
In November 2013, Paypal partnered with Orderbird, an iPad-based point of sale service that recognizes users when they walk into participating businesses, and then, using those customer profiles, lets them pay for goods and services automatically from their PayPal accounts.
For more information on Berlin’s thriving startup ecosystem, head to Startup Camp Berlin which is taking place March 20-21.