This article might be seen as a diary of my erasmus year, or as my view of Berlin. Either way, the city is known for its complex yet harmonious blend of cultures. That has led to a comparable mix in technologies and structures around it. Between the city that never sleeps in parties to the city that never sleeps due to deadlines, there is only a thin line.

Of course this article is sponsored by the numerous free buffets that arguably make the most appreciated perk at accelerators/launch parties/co-working events!

Meetups as a mixing process

For instance, the Meetups related to programming languages or trendy technologies are numerous. I met there very varied profiles, differing a lot from the classic tech/art/management seen at Startup Weeks. One was a lobbyist looking for a reconversion.

conference with ML Berlin User Group
Machine Learning Berlin Group Meetup at the Rocket Tower

One example among many is the Machine Learning community that spreads from research teams in the Humbold, Freie and Technische unis, and startups that build around it like Aaron. I had the pleasure to attend a conference from a famous german venture capitalist, Rocket, hosted in its Roket Tower building. It features a thorough explanation of what Neural Networks are. The scientific researchers of ETH Zürich together with dating app BLINQ created the machine learning algorithm behind howhot.io and presented it.

It is widely observed that european IT professionals often go more to Berlin when it comes to organizing events. Be it for its central geographical position or the ease with which one can find a place to gather.

Aaron, internship in mobility

As for the co-working and work places built by investors for their protégés, they are many. Aaron GmbH is one of them. The company was part of both the Humbold mentoring program and the Axel-Springer Plug-n-Play Accelerator. There have been many places to visit and as many very interesting people to work along. The place is neat, the minds sharp. Coffee is good and the place lives to the rhythm of Lean Startup open tutorials.

The Axel Springer Plug-n-Play accelerator
The Axel Springer Plug-n-Play accelerator © axelspringerplugandplay.com

It may seem obvious to many entrepreneurs, but the entrepreneurial culture tips learned from the accelerator changed my point of view toward how projects should be shipped. Meeting the end users is crucial, and the multiple investors and VCs that run in Berlin’s blood make it clear. Each week meeting with a mentor investor for feedback about our business plan showed us how important it is to stress-test the BM against a maximum of investors as soon as possible. Investors knowing about your field always know better, and they guided us through our 3 month at the accelerator. It resulted in a rock-solid business model, based on market insider experience and not rough guess or only users Q&As…

A strong support from universities

Aaron GmbH also had a governmental support in the form of a place in the Humboldt incubator. This happens mostly when a company has a shared interest over a technology with the research lab, as it was the case here. The startups then have a place in the HU Gründerhaus.

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Entrance from the Gründerhaus, a place where startups supported by the Humbold Universität get a desk, a kitchen and interesting neighbours!

Fast-forward to the november 2016. I have to stop writing this article as my town’s startup incubator has burnt in flames. A tragic event that left numerous startups alone, but that also triggered a great collaboration of sympathisers, freelancers and past founded startups to host now orpheline startups. A sign among many that cities need to build around such structures.