Today, the city’s healthy start-up scene is one-of-a-kind: The relatively low cost of living and office space has attracted huge numbers of highly educated – and motivated – specialists from all over the world who flock to Berlin for its unique culture and quality of life.

At the same time, low rents do not equal financial success. We spoke to an expert on the matter, urban consultant and economic geographer Bastian Lange, who specializes in the creative industries, questions of governance, and regional development. He pinpointed five prerequisites for start-up success and a positive impact on the city.

1.This one should go without saying: It takes more than an ironic t-shirt and a beard to be creative. When it comes down to it, look and lifestyle do not matter – it is all about having a solid idea.

2. Start-ups and micro businesses can pose a serious threat to large companies since they enjoy direct customer access, making it easier to find out what the consumer actually wants.

3. The recent increase in social awareness, especially in terms of locally sourced goods and sustainability, can add a welcome boost since people like to support local micro businesses and get emotionally invested.

4. Time is key in the creative sector. Great ideas often need time to breathe and develop. Working full-time on other projects to survive and pay the bills is likely to stifle promising projects in their infancy.

5. At the same time, good ideas need long-term financial support to be – and become – truly competitive.

Many cities require huge investments to draw a serious start-up scene. Already attractive to the right crowd, Berlin finds itself in a uniquely privileged position. Yet without external financial support – from either government or investors – most start-ups will struggle to survive the first stretch.

Hopefully, the five insights above will help potential entrepreneurs to develop a strategic plan and sustainable business concept. After all, their success is not purely economic, but also adds to the city’s diversity and a more collaborative social structure.

Material Mafia is a Berlin start-up that provides creatives with recycled material for new projects, photo: Material Mafia
Material Mafia is a Berlin start-up that provides creatives with recycled material for new projects, photo: Material Mafia

Text: Claudio Rimmele
Header image: soulcore/ photocase.com