The Differences Between the Start-Up Communities in Berlin and Cologne

Jamie Rogers



Tim Schumacher: For better or worse, there is more of an aggressiveness in Berlin…

I’m not an investor, so this is only a perception-I could be wrong. But if I compare the start-up community in Cologne to what I see and hear in Berlin, Berlin seems to be quite volatile. There’s lots of high growth, high investment, big explosions in headcount and lots of businesses that suddenly disappear. I don’t see that in Cologne, it seems Cologne is maybe a more reserved place to build a start-up. I don’t want to offend anyone in Berlin, but it seems like Cologne businesses are more focused on business. Profitability, sustainability, building something robust. But is that an accurate perception? Is there a real difference in attitudes?

Yes, I think the perception is correct. This is for better or for worse, there is more of an aggressiveness in Berlin. So we have to give Berlin credit, the two or three top-notch businesses are really world-class businesses, they were all from Berlin. Not from Cologne. But also, I see a lot more hot air in start-up pitches in Berlin. People are better sometimes at pitching. In Cologne, I see some really good start-ups and scale-ups where people haven’t heard about them for a long time.

Like to mention two: Cleverbridge is a software company, software platform, or Open Xchange or OX. Both are really kind of world-class companies, no one has ever heard of, both of them have more than 400 employees headquartered in Cologne. Nobody knows them and they’re both in a more B2B, behind the scenes type business model-and that is quite