The first wave of Berlin startups was predominantly German MBAs, mainly first time entrepreneurs, building German companies often based on US role models for the German market (with some internationalisation later), backed initially by German investors. This wave has created billions of exits but is now more or less over.
The second wave was more original companies addressing global markets, more product and design driven, a large share of international (still mainly first time) founders and the occasional top tier international syndicate at later stages. This wave has produced several companies worth hundreds of millions but they are still comparatively young and my guess is will need another 12-24 months before we see large exits.
We are now firmly entering the third wave of Berlin startups.
The third wave is more geeky, more engineering driven, more enterprise, more open source, with a large share of serial entrepreneurs, more mature and already at early stages many good international investors backing them up. The third wave started over the last 12-24 months (with some companies having bootstrapped for longer and now raising their heads) but has already produced some really interesting activities across a few micro-clusters not everyone has on their radar screen yet:
- Developer tools / code ecosystem (e.g. RhodeCode , TravisCI)
- Bitcoin, block-chain innovators and similar (e.g. Bitbond, Ascribe)
- E-Health: (e.g. Clue, Klara , MediGo)
- Vertical enterprise SaaS (e.g. SmallImprovements)
- Security (e.g. Zenmate)
- Market infrastructure: (e.g. GoEuro)
- FinTech (e.g. SavingGlobal, No26)
- More next-gen adtech companies that I could possibly name
- IoT (e.g. Lock8, Relayr)
I did this off-the-cuff so I am sure I have forgotten to name a lot of micro clusters and startups, but you get the picture: the third wave is not going to be a one trick pony.
I am excited about the third wave because we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.