empower issue #3 — Berlin: A startup bridge between Asia & Europe
At enpact, we focus on empowering entrepreneurs and their support systems through our programs and research. It is powerful work, and all the more so with the bulk of our focus being primarily on ecosystems not based in the Western world. In our past programs in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, India, Jakarta, Mexico, and more, we have worked to create networks, instill confidence, and bring visibility to the incredible work of entrepreneurs around the world serving their local economies and communities.
Yet, in our work to date, we have neglected to address the startup ecosystem in our home community — Berlin in our Data & Research. That’s not to say we don’t regularly include Berlin’s startup ecosystem in our programs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we regularly brought entrepreneurs around the world to Berlin to participate in bootcamps, mentoring programs, and networking events. These trips were modeled on the notion that one of the hardest challenges to overcome as an entrepreneur is acquiring the right network. Again and again, this theme runs through our work. It’s all too well known that cronyism is still at large and too often the right person is not exposed to the right opportunities.
Even more relevant is our work to build bridges between Berlin and multiple Asian startup hotspots. Through our delegation trips and, most notably, our AsiaBerlin Summit, we connect ecosystem participants and builders from Japan, India, Singapore, Jakarta, Vietnam and more. Naturally as our network grows and our partnerships expand beyond Asia (AfricaBerlin Network has just been announced by the Berlin Senate this fall), our Data & Research team began to ponder a central question: can our data shed a light on how to facilitate these connections? Beyond that, what are the driving forces beyond these connections? Expanding a company internationally has obvious benefits to the economy and to the growth of the company, but what does it take to do it better?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is not straight-forward or one-size-fits-all. To compile this edition of empower, we have drawn on our networks across Asia and within Berlin, interviewing entrepreneurs, incubators, activists, government organizations, and academics who study the topics of entrepreneurship and internationalization. The result is a compilation of diverse perspectives on what it takes to make Berlin an even more imminent destination for startup culture and what it takes to support Berlin-based startups that aim to expand and create more trade, connections, and business with the world, particularly Asia.
We hope you enjoy this issue.
A few words before you read the edition:
Berlin as an entry-way to the European market
- A closer look at Berlin’s startup ecosystem using the SFI by Heather Dannyelle Thompson
- Landing in Berlin from Asia featuring Kristin Eckert of Scaler8 by Heather Dannyelle Thompson
- The importance of well-being for entrepreneurs in a startup ecosystem by Iulia-Maria Stroila
- Does Berlin’s LGBTQ-friendliness provide its startup ecosystem with a competitive edge? by Heather Dannyelle Thompson in interview with Athena Lam
Scaling to Asia: when to go, why, and how
- Expanding into Asia: firsthand insights featuring Bernhard Friedrichs by Heather Dannyelle Thompson
- Why you need an accelerator to help you expand internationally by Claus Karthe of the German Accelerator
- Addressing cultural differences in venture capital investments by Anna Wiese of the Berlin Partner in interview with Chika Yamamoto and Maria-Liisa Bruckert
Our entire ethos at enpact revolves around the concept and development of community and networks. We believe nothing worth doing can or should be done alone. In our work to create a global network filled with entrepreneurs, mentors, governmental entities, private interests, investors, and organizational partners, we have found a community ready to support our vision, not the least of which in the creation and execution of this report.
With that in mind, we would like to extend gratitude especially to our partners on this project, the AsiaBerlin Project sponsored by the Berlin Senate.
We would also like to extend a warm thank you to our interviewees Bernhard Friedrichs, Athena Lam, Kirsten Eckert, Chika Yamamoto, and Maria-Liisa Bruckert. A great thanks to our collaborators on this project, the German Accelerator, Scaler8, and Berlin Partners. Finally thank you to our guest authors Claus Karthe, Anna Wiese and Iulia-Maria Stroila.
So much artwork was included in this report to give it the right aesthetic. We thank the artists and photographers who elevated our report with their creativity:
- Independent photographers: Zhihao Zhong.
- From unsplash.com for the cover image: Claudio Schwarz and the artists on unsplash.com overall.
- The enpact e.V. archives and its collection of photographers.
- Illustrations by Joan Saló with the assistance of Heather Dannyelle Thompson.
A great thank you to our designer Joan Saló who not only helped create the original design of the empower magazine, but continues to support producing new editions.
Thank you to my partner in this edition, Michael Bain, who worked with me from day one to refine the concept, brainstorm on guest authors, bounce around ideas, coordinate research, interviews, and guest articles, and for reviewing drafts of all the writing.
Finally, thank you to Jan Lachenmayer, Sebastian Rubatcher, and Matthias Treutwein, enpact management and founders, who have created a work environment where bold ideas are welcomed and encouraged.
Thank you all for your work and support!