It got a little quiet in the last two weeks around me - I know. But you can be sure, that I have a good reason: I got married and was on honeymoon in Italy. Since yesterday morning I am back to "business" and currently travelling for some meetings in Berlin.
While strolling through Berlin, I was wondering how Berlin compares to San Francisco. Obviously in terms of political and cultural significance Berlin wins: Just visit Schloss Charlottenburg at Spandauer Damm - an impressive palace from the 18th century. Or walk by Gedächtniskirche at Breitscheidplatz in Charlottenburg - this church got destroyed by a bombing in 1934 and is considered an important war memorial of the postwar period.
In addition to that you should not forget to visit Brandenburger Tor, the town's landmark. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who used to climb an observation platform in order to get a glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain, on the other side of the barren “death-strip” which separated east from west Berlin, geographically and politically.
But in recent years Berlin's start-up importance has been rising as well. More and more entrepreneurs moved to the city to start their businesses. And it is a good environment to start a company in Germany: the country ranked 6th in competitiveness by the World Economic Forum's 2012 - 2013 report, and 3rd in its capacity for innovation.
Not having been in Berlin since my birth, I was inclined to see where entrepreneurs hang out. I asked my friend Christop Räthke, himself an well-connected entrepreneur and founder of Berlin Startup Academy, to show me around the city's tech spots. And this were the places he brought me to:
This is where the magic happens! Near the Rosenthaler Platz subway station, signs of the city's high-tech future blend seamlessly with its communist past. You will find communal offices decked out in colorful IKEA furniture - converted from decrepit breweries and stables.
Cafe Sankt Oberholz
We visited "Sankt Oberholz" and sipped cappuccino while working and being surrounded by many other like-minded people. This is one of THE meeting spots for Berlin's tech scene - the other one would be Betahaus.
If you need to stay overnight in Berlin, you might want to try out Hotel Amano. You can be sure to run into a few entrepreneurs and creative minds while hanging out in the Hotel Lobby or having a drink at the bar.
There a tons of more place, but I won't list all of them here - find out for yourself and explore Berlin. For me it was just a short escape to Berlin but I know for sure: Berlin is the startup capital of Germany and it's hip and cool and especially in the summer it wins over San Francisco in terms of the weather :) (we have a lot of fog right now in San Francisco and it's cold and windy)