2011-01-18 um 13-55-32

Berlin is still 18 months behind!

There is no contemporary start-up environment here.

To start a business with balls, you still have to go to California.

Sure, we have accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, daily entrepreneur meetups, not to mention VCs and crowdfunding in Berlin.

But on top of that, we have a lot of blablabla.

We talk about Lean — yet start with 24-month business plans. We talk about UX — but reduce it to user journeys (product-based point of view as opposed to a user-centered view) and wireframing (pixel-perfect instead of rough rapid prototyping). We talk about Agile — but have to deliver the complete design before programming. We talk about the next big thing — but don’t know what’s currently happening at the App Garden. Everybody in Berlin knows about the $3 billion Snapchat offer, but has anyone ever tried using Snapchat in Berlin? It’s no fun with just the two or three friends you will likely find there.

And we also have lots of “consultants”.

These people who want to teach entrepreneurs how to built a start-up. Most of them have never taken their own start-up to a meaningful level of success, nor have they ever headed a company with more than ten employees. What they do have are an arsenal of buzzwords, blank theories and a lot of blablabla. And many new entrepreneurs, VCs and old-fashioned investors believe all that hot air. My favorite Silicon Valley joke:

“If your idea fails, dump it in Berlin.”

Of course not everything is bad in Berlin. It’s possible to build a successful business in Germany if you want. It all depends on your ambitions. And if you want to do your own big thing or something even better, follow their stencil like business models and blablabla.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

(Part of Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech 2005)

The truth about Berlin’s start-up scene is grey on grey, much like Kreuzberg in January.