There’s a bright future ahead for HY Berlin, a launch platform for start-ups with global ambitions, writes Milo Yiannopoulos from Berlin.
Berlin is pretty saturated with start-up events, despite Germany’s reputation for sluggishness and even hostility toward entrepreneurship. That’s because the city is brimming with excitable young things desperate to connect with one another, share ideas, and maybe even build a product people will use.
The latest, and in my experience so far the best, platform from which these new start-ups can launch themselves is HY Berlin, which took place earlier this month, staged just after Axel Springer’s Media Entrepreneurs’ Day. Yours truly, somewhat rashly, agreed to emcee the event after moderating several panels earlier in the day.
10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on stage is no mean feat, let me tell you.
But, boy, was it worth it. It’s easy to get jaded about start-up events in an industry that often feels like it has run out of ideas. What gives you hope are platforms like HY Berlin that have global ambitions encoded into their DNA: from the first, the judging panel asked questions and made comments with worldwide domination in mind.
You don’t see that kind of chutzpah in London. Nor do you in many other places in Europe, to be honest. Thus Aydo Schosswald, Hans Ruffauf and Rupert Hoffschmidt, with a little cash and support from Deutsche Telekom and Germany’s most forward-thinking publisher, are creating the conditions for companies with appropriately hubristic ambitions to flourish.
It’s not just geographic ambition: the winner of the pitch competition, Toywheel, is taking aim at one of the great challenges of our century – education. It’s yet another example of the private sector stepping in with innovative solutions to address public sector failure.
Berlin’s start-up community is relatively small, and very tight-knit. All the key players know each other and kick back into each other’s projects: hub:raum, Deutsche Telekom’s accelerator, put €10,000 into the prize pot for HY Berlin, while local public relations firm piabo offered PR and social media services.
(Media for equity investors Niko Waesche and Aljoscha Kaplan from German Media Pool were on hand, too, to dish out excellent schitznel venue recommendations – for which your correspondent was fiercely grateful.)
HY Berlin returns on 19 January, which happens to be my mother’s birthday. I’m hoping Mutti will forgive my absence next year. Because frankly I’d rather lose a parent’s affection than miss HY Berlin… even if all the food was vegan. Bloody Germans!