Silicon Allee: The Startup Culture in Berlin

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Everyone told me Berlin was the epitome of “cool,” and they were correct. I was full of questions prior to arriving in this eccentric city. What would the people be like? What’s the food scene? Are English-speaking people as prevalent as I think they are? Why do people say Berlin is so cool? After a little over two weeks in Berlin, these questions were quickly answered. The culture here is heavily rooted in its history. The rebellious nature of the east vs. west phenomenon lives on through the Germans’ physical appearance and attitude. People covered in tattoos is the norm. Minimal makeup, piercings, funky hair and cutting edge style invades this city. Berlin makes even Los Angeles look boring. It’s the most accepting, non judgemental place I have experienced, with a captivating energy that makes it one of the most exhilarating cities to explore.

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Through my internship at Silicon Allee, the international hub for startups and entrepreneurs, I was thrilled to gain first-hand experience of the startup culture in Berlin. I have been working at CitizenNet, a startup in Los Angeles, for the past two years, and fell in love with the casual dress, atypical working hours, ping-pong games at 2pm, dogs roaming the office and the standard socials on Fridays. While there are strong similarities between CitizenNet and Silicon Allee, there are also vast differences. I thought Los Angeles was slow-paced, but Berlin is even more slow. I’ve noticed that deadlines are often prioritized at the last minute in Berlin, leaving minimal time to deal with any variables. Berliners are also “set in their ways” - meaning it is challenging to offer constructive criticism. I was tasked with improving Silicon Allee’s social media presence and increasing its follower base, but I often felt like my colleagues would take any suggestions I offered personally, when in reality I was just providing feedback on the brand.

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I have been looking forward to working with Travis, the co-founder of Silicon Allee, because he is a born-and-raised American, who has spent a good deal of time in San Francisco. Travis has been an entrepreneur for most of his life, and is always providing insightful advice regarding startup culture. He is passionate about networking and building a community, which has been a great experience. Currently, I am planning Silicon Allee’s annual summer block party. We decided to make it “4th of July” themed. Last year, the turnout was over 300 people, so we are expecting the same, if not more, for this year. I am responsible for the social media promotion, and solidifying a food vendor for the event. I’ve been pitching burger joints in the area, and am close to locking one down! I am also working on finalizing sponsors for the event, who will be donating money in exchange for having the company logo on all event promotions. The plan is to set up American games in Silicon Allee’s sunny courtyard. People can enjoy free snacks while meeting new friends, and have the option to purchase burger and fries (like a true American!). I couldn’t have asked for a better first few weeks in Berlin, and I’m excited for what the rest of the trip here has in store!


Lauren Bradford

is currently interning at Silicon Allee in Berlin for the Summer. Lauren graduates in 2019 with a Masters in Communication Management from USC Annenberg.