14. March 2012–
Nathalie d’Aboville is 22-year-old community manager, from London but currently living in Berlin. She moved here almost 18 months ago, 5 months into which she took her position with Berlin’s mobile advertising marketplace Madvertise. After spotting a snarky response to the Christian Reber-Wowereit debacle that Nathalie wrote on the Madvertise blog, we decided to get in touch. Here’s what she thinks of Berlin, versus London, in a nutshell.
Ain’t nothing going on but the rent
London’s expensive, that’s a no brainer. But an expensive city means changes in more than just your monthly rent payment. Office space in London can be jaw-droppingly steep. Berlin is rife with inspiring, encouraging and hip office spaces. And rent for these isn’t sky-high, meaning that even baby startups can have a chance here.
This means it’s not only the big boys who are privy to a presence in the city centre, but a wide range of businesses that make home base the heart of Berlin. As a result, it’s one of the most diverse startup scenes attracting people from all over the globe. Hence me.
A full-blown orgy of creativity
In East London in particular, there are a huge number of startups and a sophisticated tech scene. There’s also a strong art scene and it’s not hard to find creativity flirting with tech around these parts. In Berlin, however, it’s a full-blown steamy affair. Techies and creative types are joining forces to create some of the most beautifully useable products around.
It’s not that there’s better talent in Berlin, perhaps just more of it, and from everywhere. Berlin seems more tolerant to flamboyant and spontaneous ideas, and the caliber of talent, ninja-focus and productivity of tech teams in particular here is just mind-blowing.
New-born talent capable of persistent creativity
Everything produced in a city no matter where you are in the world, is representative. Literature, fashion, poetry, music and technology – It’s all representative of the city in which it was created. If not representative, then reflective at the very least. English literature written in the heart of London paints a vivid picture of a demanding, somewhat cold yet passionate and ambitious city.
It’s a similar story with the technology, products and services that are coming from Berlin today. Each reflects the creative and innovative atmosphere in the city at present and is a welcoming example of what even the most new-born talent is capable of here. There seems to be this persistent desire to keep creating in Berlin, which brings me to my next observation.
I miss the crude pub talks, but not the stuffy attitude.
The prospects for “little people” with “big ideas” in London are rather daunting, enough to put some of the finest young minds off. Competition is stifling and don’t get me wrong, there’s a thick competitive air wafting through Berlin as well, but when it comes to the “little people” and their golden ideas in this city, a popular and seemingly successful solution is to turn competition into collaboration. A rarity in London.
There’s a constant sense of encouragement to share your ideas. Berlin boasts a damn fine and reassuringly warm sense of community. Something that, let’s be honest – can be extremely hard to come by especially for new comers in bustling fast-paced European cities.
I miss London pubs, I miss inappropriately crude conversation and I miss Marks & Spencer’s hoisin duck rolls. But what’s keeping me grounded here in Berlin is the productiveness, and the openness to sharing ideas, no matter how crazy – more importantly, getting these ideas off the ground.
Earn enough for U-bahn tickets, Club Mate, and fleamarkets
I’ve landed a job in the mobile industry doing what I love. For newcomers and folks with close to no previous work experience, there’s an internship here for everybody and yes, in the beginning you might not earn buckets of money, but it’s enough for your monthly U-bahn ticket, your rent, a few beers (Editor’s note: or Club Mates, drool), a couple of supermarket trips, some fleamarket hidden treasures and your monthly internet bill – trust me, I’ve done it. I can’t help but feel grateful towards Berlin, and its kooky, raw and genius inhabitants.
Yes I still make failed, baffling attempts at crude conversation, yes I spend at least one night a week having a pint with my Scottish colleague and heck yes I still dream of Marks & Spencer hoisin duck rolls – I guess you can take the girl out of London, but you can’t take the London out the girl.
And what more could I want?
However I feel that, at 22, living in Berlin with a curiosity for the startup scene and more prominently, for the people creating it, there are inspiring prospects ahead – a feeling that never really took a hold of me in London. Looking forward to really getting stuck in, I’ve got a good feeling about all this…