An Interview with Leah Hunter

On Monday, at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, it’s going to be Digital Media Women Day! Great female entrepreneurs und tech-visionaries will talk about the topics and ideas that matter most to women (and men) in the media. One of the speakers is the writer and founder Leah Hunter who was so kind to answer some questions for this interview.

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Brigitte from the Netherlands “It makes me happy to live among people who are so welcoming towards foreigners”

Hi Brigitte! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you introduce yourself in a few words to start off?

I am Brigitte (28), I come from the Netherlands and have lived in Hamburg since October 2015. I have degrees in History and Middle Eastern Studies and lived in Scotland, Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait and Egypt during my studies. I ended up in Hamburg completely by chance. As many of my university friends were struggling to find jobs, I decided to be flexible about the job location.

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Tell me how you met your co-founder, I will tell you how your company will do.

I’ve seen now fourteen startups going through our program since we got our accelerator started back in 2015. We are asked many times how we choose the companies that eventually join our program. What I have witnessed and learnt with the time is the importance of having the right partner to make something happen, therefore we invest some time finding out if the team behind the product is the right one to invest in. If you would like to deepen into the topic I recommend you to read Four Reasons To Invest In People, Not In Companies written by Ilya Pozin in Forbes.

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Tamara Muñoz: Mission “Loving Languages” at bab.la

Hamburg Startups: Can you introduce yourself in a few words to start off?

Tamara Muñoz – Spanish language aficionado and tortilla specialist: Read more

Thi Detert – an American game designer in Hamburg

Hamburg Startups: Can you introduce yourself in a few words to start off?

Thi Detert: My name is Thi Detert. I come from San Francisco, California. I moved to Hamburg because my husband and I really wanted to live abroad in Europe. We decided that since gaming is a rather niche field, wherever I got a good job offer is where we would move.

Thi Detert InnoGames

Thi Detert

HS: What’s your role at InnoGames and how did you end up working there?

TD: I am the Team Lead of Game Design for the Forge of Empires team. I worked with a recruiter in San Francisco who helped me look for opportunities abroad. He told me about InnoGames, the opportunity sounded interesting, and the rest is history, as they say.

HS: What do you see as benefits from working for a start-up?

TD: I worked at several start-ups in San Francisco and always enjoyed it mainly because of the flexibility and fun culture. In start-ups, you usually have the opportunity to take on responsibilities not particular to your role, so you can learn a lot. Teams are smaller and work processes can move a lot faster. Every one works hard, but people don’t forget to have fun.

Thi Detert InnoGames

InnoGames

Even though InnoGames is a sizable company that is more professional and stable than any start-ups I worked at previously, the company still maintains many of the good things about start-ups I mentioned above.

HS: How do you like Hamburg as an expat?

TD: Since moving to Hamburg, many people here have asked me why I would ever leave San Francisco. True, San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world, though I may be a bit biased, but I really like Hamburg and I am having a great time living here. I love the lake, the canals and all the greenery you can find here in the spring and summer. The public transportation system in Hamburg is better than San Francisco’s. Hamburg is cleaner and prettier in a lot of ways, and, overall, it feels safer. Though it’s not particular to just Hamburg, I’ve really enjoyed experiencing the different seasons since California has mainly one season. It’s also really nice that Hamburg is a nice jumping off point for travel around Europe, and that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to live abroad—to experience the world more.

I do miss the California sunshine and warmer weather sometimes, and I wish Hamburg had more diverse and authentic food selections from other cultures like in San Francisco.

HS: As non-native speakers of German, how were your first days in Hamburg?

TD: I didn’t have many difficulties getting along in Hamburg when I first moved here. There were some moments in the first few months where I found myself unable to communicate effectively with the staff at restaurants or shops, but mostly everyone can speak English to some degree, and as I picked up more German, it got easier. I’m embarrassed to say, though, that after almost 2 years of living in Hamburg, I’m only A2 level in German. InnoGames offers language courses that meet once a week, so that helped me get going with learning German. Since the official language of InnoGames is English, I don’t need to speak German, so I don’t get that practice. I know it’s up to me to improve my German, so given that it’s the New Year, this is one of my resolutions.

HS: Thank you for your time and your answers, Thi!

Thi Detert InnoGames

InnoGames

InnoGames is a Hamburg startup, founded in 2007. They are specialised in online games and have gathered millions of players. Check our Startup Monitor for more information about InnoGames and their job offers.

Pictures: InnoGames

Are media houses in Germany prepared to work with startups?

What’s the next hot stuff in media? How we will be communicating in the upcoming years? Which social media channels are going to survive? Which tools are journalist going to use? How the role of the journalist is going to evolve? How are we going to be able to detect fake news? Are we going to be constrained to pay for good content? Is user generated video, 360, IA, VR, AR the next big thing? We still have no answer to many of these questions, however we can witness, learn and sometimes even foresee.

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2016 – The international kick off for the Hamburger startup szene

Let’s go back to 2012, the year I landed in Hamburg for the first time. I hope you can imagine or remember how international the city was at that time. Not at all. And I’m not particularly talking about a daily life level but from an entrepreneurial point of you. Read more

Marina Sanchez – working for a Hamburg startup as an expat

Marina Stechmann, née Sanchez, has been living in Hamburg for the past four years. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman was visiting a friend in Hamburg in spring 2012 who was getting married. She was only supposed to stay a few days to help with preparations but she “fell in love with the city and because I did not really have any perspectives back in France, I decided to do something daft. Let’s stay in Hamburg and see what happens!” Read more

Embarrassingly conventional – startups are failing on diversity

Hamburg has serious ambitions to become a truly international city – whatever that means. On 21st March this year, it was announced that our city will be Germany’s candidate for the 2024 (and failing that, 2028) Olympics. This could catapult Hamburg onto the international stage, finally giving Hamburg the international profile that it deserves as Germany’s second largest and arguably nicest city.

In one aspect, the city’s campaign has room for improvement: diversity. In the push to get Hamburg selected as Germany’s candidate city, twelve Hamburg ad agencies stepped in to help. Unfortunately, the image they presented of Hamburg was anything but fitting for an international city:  a picture of the founders, owners and CEOs showed a group of twelve white men.

I, and many other people who know the multinational, metropolitan side of Hamburg, felt a bit embarrassed. How can a city launching an international publicity campaign be blind to something so important (and obvious)?

But surely having a startup ecosystem, with disruption in its very DNA, is a chance to turn mainstream society on its head and show how we can get the most out of all people, no matter what race, religion, colour, creed or gender? Not so fast – looking to Silicon Valley, with only 10% of female founders, startup ecosystems seem to be falling short of these lofty aims.

Sketchnotes by Ines Schaffranek

In Hamburg only 12% women founded a Startup, in Silicon Valley only 10% (Sketchnotes by Ines Schaffranek)

 

In fact, instead of leading the way it seems that old economy companies like Yahoo (with CEO Marissa Meyer), and Intel (with its $300m diversity drive) are making more progress than their upstart counterparts. And Hillary Clinton, previous to launching her presidential bid, ticked off Silicon Valley for its massive male majority. This is unfortunately one trend that startups around the world not only haven’t set, but have missed completely.

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TripRebel and minubo heading off to the SXSW

betahaus Hamburg transformed into a start-up arena on 13 January, setting the stage for over 150 guests to hear six outstanding pitches in a cauldron of knife-edge suspense. The challenge: It was up to the jury and the audience to decide which start-up would fly to Texas to represent Hamburg at the SXSW German Startup Engine in Austin in March. All of the start-ups came highly motivated, clearly determined to win. Jenni Schwanenberg, responsible for innovation management at dpa whenever she’s not driving startups through the arena with ever so delightful charm, was an engaging host at the evening’s event. Triprebel, a travel startup presented by its founder Carlos Borges, and the e-commerce agent minubo, showcased by Torben Sominka, emerged as winners and can now look forward, among other things, to an exciting trip to SXSW.

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