When drawing up a plan for a start-up business, it's become a generally accepted idea that location should be a deciding factor while brainstorming. It's a given that having a good product to market is the no. 1 requirement for any aspiring entrepreneur and right behind comes the knack for attracting investors as well as the ability to persuade and advertise said idea.
What might also need to be given as much importance, in the hierarchy of factors considered when constructing a blueprint for your enterprise, are the vast amount of variables that could make or break your ladder to success.
In the same way that a quarterback can experience varying degrees of fortune depending on what team he plays on, and subsequently the area of strengths of his teammates as well the chemistry between the two parties, a company's success highly depends on where it is located, and subsequently the priorities of the people around, the interests of investors in the area and the type of talent that surrounds the community.
But to what extent, you might ask, should you consider location -- a couple of blocks perhaps? According to the latest reports, it may just be a few thousand miles.
Introducing, the case study of Berlin, the German capital of 3.3 million people that has become one of the places to be on tech scene. According to Toronto-based paper The Globe and Mail, Berlin was ranked 6th in competitiveness and 3rd in capacity for innovation by the World Economic Forum. And when you consider the testimonials that start-up owners have to offer, it's clear to see why.
“We needed to change the mindset of our company, and bring in international staff," said Lucas von Cranach to The Globe and Mail. And it is easy to persuade people from around the world to move to Berlin, which is a very young and trendy city, and an inexpensive place to live." Three years after moving to Berlin in 2010, Cranach's company, motain GmbH, employs 45 people from 15 different countries including Brazil, Australia and the U.K.
Cranach is just one of the few people who owe the progress of their companies to the start-up friendly capital of Germany.
The inexpensive rent makes it the perfect alternative to places like SoHo, the artsy neighborhood in New York City, complete with high costs of living, that can deter companies like EyeEM from replicating the same type of success that they might otherwise enjoy in Berlin.
“The cheap rent [of] Berlin buys you time, and time is everything,” said Lorenz Aschoff, a co-founder of the Instagram-esque EyeEm, to the New York Times. “If we hadn’t received the original gallery [in Berlin] for free, it would have killed the idea before it took off.”
Of course, Berlin’s kindness to up-and-coming businesses is just one example of how choice of location can be crucial to an enterprise’s prosperity, but the tales of fortune coming from the German capital highlight a bigger point.
The atmosphere, not just where you are but also who, and what, is around you is paramount to your success.
For start-ups that are trying to get on the tech scene, Berlin makes sense simply because it’s been proven as a tech-friendly city and, naturally, those interested in investing in tech companies will know where find to them.
For different companies though, there are other Berlin-like stories. Consider this account given in an article by Forbes’ on how two similar companies, one based in Boston the other in Tel Aviv, experienced very different fortunes. Or perhaps this story might provide more perspective; a report that says Medtech start-ups are finding their home in Ireland.
Whatever the case, the point remains the same. Being in the right place at the right time may just be the difference between your immense success or disastrous failure.
As one Chief Executive of an online gaming company told the New York Times, “[We] couldn’t in any city other than Berlin.”
Where's your Berlin?