Finding startups in Berlin, also referred to as Silicon Allee, is nothing like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack: Statistically, a new startup is founded in Berlin every 20 hours. Taking the number of companies registered on CrunchBase and the total number of students in the city, there are 213 students for every startup.
According to a McKinsey report, Berlin could offer more than 100 000 new jobs created by startups by 2020. But looking beyond these great numbers and statistics, Berlin is not just a great place to work, but a great place to live, too. It is not just the buzzing startup scene that makes the city attractive but also its cosmopolitan character, and low cost of living in comparison to other European capitals.
Read also: A guide to startup jobs and internships
Where can you find the startups?
To find startups you have to look for accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces.
An accelerator is the startup equivalent of a semester at a university, with courses and an exam in the end in the form of a demo day, where startups present their products in front of investors, and potential clients.
Some of the best accelerators in Berlin are:
- Berlin Startup Academy, targets early stage startups.
- Hardware.co, a short 2-week program that is run in collaboration with the Betahaus co-working space.
- Startupbootcamp Berlin, part of the global Startupbootcamp.
- Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator, runs three times a year for three months.
An incubator is a place where ideas are generated and brought to life. The incubators worth checking out are:
- Rocket Internet, one of the most known company builders.
- Cfe – Centre for entrepreneurship, part of the Berlin Technical University.
- Hub:raum, run by Deutsche Telekom.
- YOU IS NOW Startup-Incubator, runs two times per year.
- Project Flying Elephant, an incubator of early stage investor WestTech Ventures.
A co-working space is usually a building or a larger office where startups rent small offices or a desk. In Berlin, there are more than 80, scattered all over the city. Some of the coolest ones are: Agora Collective, Betahaus, Co.up, St. Oberholz, Launch/CO, Office Club, and Raumstation.
Where to meet startups?
The best way to meet startups is to attend startup events and parties. The decisive factor for getting you onboard for an internship or a full-time job is how you will fit into the team, so a nice conversation and showing genuine interest might be all that is needed.
There are plenty of events to choose from. To start with, you need not look further than Facebook. Here are some groups which might be interesting to check out: Berlin Startup Jobs, Berlin Startups, and Berlin Startup Events.
Berlin offers also big and international startup events, like:
- Heureka Conference, the founders’ conference.
- Noah Conference, organized events since 2009, primarily in London.
- Startup Camp Berlin, is the largest early stage startup event organized in Berlin.
- ThingsCon, Europe’s leading conference about the future of hardware and connected devices.
- Berlin Web Week, a one week festival in current trends in digital industry.
- Capital On Stage, where founders meet venture capitalists.
- Tech Open Air, a tech festival.
- Social Media Week, all about tech and social media.
The accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces all organise parties regularly, but if you want to have an overview of what’s happening, check out the Berlin Startup Digest which provides a calendar with links to events and meetups.
Tips for getting an internship
Before you get into finding the startups and events you might be interested in, here are some tips on how to land your startup internship in Berlin.
Tip 1 - Get a healthy dose of Vitamin B. This one does not come in a bottle - "Vitamin B" is a German expression used to describe your network (with B for "Beziehung", meaning your personal relations). If you don’t have a network in Germany you should consider building it by attending one of the many events mentioned above.
Tip 2 - Customise your application to the German standard. That can mean restructuring your CV to fit the German format and familiarising yourself with the peculiarities of job hunting in Germany. Note that skills and experience are taken seriously in Germany, and you should know that all your German counterparts have recommendation letters from all their previous employments. (By the way, you may also want to look into creating/updating your profile on Xing, the German version of LinkedIn.)
Tip 3 - Brush up your German. As the saying goes "Life's too short to learn German", but you are looking for a job in Germany, so knowing the language at least on a conversational level is usually a big advantage. (Psst! If you're already somewhat proficient, you can practice by reading this article in German about average salaries in Berlin startups).