What hope for UK startups and equity crowdfunders as the new Prime Minister says 'Brexit means Brexit'? Another Crowd checks the facts on a campaign that's calling on our businesses to move their headquarters to Berlin.
We laughed when we heard about the bus driving around Shoreditch saying "Dear Startups: Keep calm and move to Berlin." It was featured in The Sun, and we all know, they have our best interests at heart.
Then, over the weekend, we heard of a company that had been offered angel investment subject to the UK remaining in the EU. And this appeared in our inbox, via one of the entrepreneur communities:
Not trying to start a political discussion, but just wondering if anyone who's familiar with both the UK and German startup scenes could comment on what a UK founder should expect if we were to move operations to Germany (presumably Berlin). The single market and free movement are important for our business. But what about things like German taxes, employment laws, culture, access to investment, prevalence of English (must speak German?), etc?
We did some quick fact checking, and this is what we've found:
There is a service called Berlin Partnerhip für Wirtschaft und Technologie (Berlin Partnership for Business and Technology) which aims to attract businesses to Berlin, and offers advice on relocation and funding. Their site has an English-language section, at http://www.berlin-partner.de/en .
We also found an online startup community called Silicon Allee https://www.siliconallee.com/ (Slogan: Connecting Berlin's technology companies with the world since 2011, and yes 'Allee' is the German for an alley.) So you can make friends, look for prospective partners and get advice before you make a big leap into the unknown.
Now the bad news.
You will need to learn German pretty quickly, because outside the cool and trendy startup community, the Chamber of Commerce and the government departments you'll need to deal with will communicate with you in their own language. (Kein Mist, Sherlock.)
The startup community in Berlin is nothing like as big as London's, and is apparently not as wonderful as the media coverage makes out. Check out the eleven key points from local blogger fakebananas.
And the people who paid for that poster? They aren't going to help you. They were just 'doing it for the lulz', as the hipsters say They are the Free Democrats (FDP), a small centre right party that believes in economic liberalism but has no seats in the Bundestag (the German parliament) and not many seats anywhere else.
They don't even think the Berlin is a good environment for startups. Sebastian Czaja, Secretary General of the Berlin FDP, told Business Insider, it needs "a fairer tax system" and "functioning wi-fi."
What's the German for Schadenfreude? .