May 04

Berlin to surpass London for Tech startup capital by 2020 (Medium)

startupWell it didn’t take long for somebody to start speculating when Berlin might surpass London for tech startups. Although I agree that the Berlin tech startup scene will continue to grow and do well, I am somewhat more conservative when it comes to overtaking London.

Back in 2013 to 2014, tech startups in Berlin totalled some 145 versus 187 in London over the same period. A 28% difference in London’s favour. Source: http://edukwest.eu/london-berlin-lead-european-startup-scene/

Now, some are speculating that Berlin will surpass London to take the number spot in Europe for new tech startup enterprises. Source: http://startuphook.com/venturecap/startup-capitals-london-vs-berlin/1109/

As a Berliner for almost 10 years, I remain skeptical of this claim for a couple of reasons. Yes Berlin remains relatively cheap compared to its peers, but it’s not as cheap as it was with rent and living costs of some central Berlin areas rising by as much as 100-150% in the past five years. Take Freidrichshain or Kreuzberg for example.

Secondly, there is still a big difference in language and communication skills, which tends to go both ways as a positive and negative, albeit with it tipping slightly in London’s favour. Being able to write and speak well in English can be the difference between presenting a successful business plan to international investors and getting the time of day to do so.

Lastly, German financiers remain somewhat fiscally conservative when it comes to doling out funds to tech starups and supporting their business plans. London remains more financially supportive and less risk averse.

The German government also tends to be quite famous for paperwork, bureaucracy and regulation. One needn’t look further than the trouble Uber has had launching its private taxi service in Berlin.

Still with all those considerations, Berlin’s tech startup scene looks set to continue to grow, and with some interesting innovation, may overcome some of the challenges mentioned above. To overtake London though might take a lot longer than five years and some much greater effort to simplify startup processes and access to funds.

 

Oct 27

Why I’m so optimistic – ‘The Internet of Things’ (Advanced)

Internet_of_ThingsThe end of the old world, the beginning of a new one. That is what the ‘Internet of Things’ promises. Every business manger, technologist, consultant, product developer, designer and yes, teacher and trainer, needs to understand the implications of the ‘Internet of Things’.

It’s a rather large, complex and difficult topic to address in a training room. Few trainers will dare to speak about it. However, I have had some fantastic results, with news of my training material making all the way to the top CEO’s of some of the largest German corporations. I will therefore endevour to present some methods, tools and ways you can also do this.

Firstly though, to teach anything you need to become familiar with the topic. So, what is this ‘Internet of Things’ all about? The internet of things is essentially a goal to fully connect the Internet to a worldwide energy network, and to a manufacturing network, and finally to distribution centres (ports, airports, warehouses, railway networks, trucking networks etc).

Allow me to digress for a moment. What’s one thing you notice when you see an shipping accident at sea on T.V.? Half the containers float around for about a week or so. Many of them float because they are empty or half empty = wasted space. I sent a small package to the U.S. last week and it cost over 40 Euro for things that were less than 20 Euro in the box = excessively expensive. How many people have tried to take a train with Deutsche Bahn but found it costs too much? It costs more to travel to Wolfsburg by train than it does for one person to rent a car and drive there, almost twice as much = ridiculously expensive. Disbtribution is where a lot of energy, time and space is simply wasted. It’s inefficient, slow, wasteful and often excessively expensive.

Then along comes 3D printing in this new ‘Internet of Things’. Here the concept of ‘Bits to Atoms’ comes into play, which sounds rather sci-fi, but basically means the transformation of free designs and images (uploaded to the internet by people using free open source software) into 3D products by people with 3D printers in your local area. With fully connected distribution networks these products can be shipped or assembled around the world or even somewhere near you home at almost near zero marginal cost. Near zero marginal cost means close to the cost to produce something with a small amount of profit on top. Individuals around the world will be able to ship products in rented container space for example or will be able to make use of empty space in buses, trains and cars far more efficiently than before. Self-driven cars are already passing the testing phase according to Google and Audi. Designs are being shared, energy and many other things will also be shared in this new collaborative commons economy.

I could talk for hours about the ‘Internet of Things’ but my prodigy and a professional I rather admire has already created such a video to speak further about it. Watch this YouTube video by Jeremy Rifkin apltly named the ‘Near Zero Marginal Cost Society’. You can download a full free copy of the text with time markers here:

Trainer notes: Given the length of the video and the article, you may want to consider getting your participants to watch the video and read the dialogue at home in their own time or as a study activity. You could look for a one or two page article on the internet of things to use during the session. Jeremy Rifkin is a slow, thoughtful speaker, who generally expresses himself in a simple yet elegant way. The idea is get you to begin talking about and understanding how the internet of things will impact business. One thing you could do is list the advantages and disadvantages of the internet of things. Privacy vs Comfort. Encrpytion vs Transparency. Environmental Protection/Shared Energy vs Scarce Food, Water and Oil/Gas. I am going through the text slowly with some participants at Siemens, and although we go off-topic and discuss many possibilities, we do try to get through at least a page each session. If you have any questions about any of the text or need help about how to explain it or just need some good examples, feel free to email at: http://www.berlinbusinessenglish.com/contact.php

Apr 21

Google under fire from German media tycoon (Advanced)

It seems that everywhere we look these days our freedom to use the internet and the protection of our data security and privacy is under constant attack. These attacks come not just from hackers trying to exploit the latest security bug, but are increasingly the result of strategies implemented by government institutions like the National Security Administration and various technology platforms.

People are slowly but surely waking up to the dangers of the Google virus, or monopolies like them that endanger our sense of freedom, control, privacy, security and choice. The CEO of Axel Springer also recently compared these platforms to viruses.

“With the exception of biological viruses, there is nothing with such speed, efficiency and aggressiveness that spreads like these technology platforms, and this also lends its creators, owners and users with new power.”

Source: BBC Article

Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft are just a few of the companies engaged in this complete data control vision. He went on further in the BBC article to explain how he had been at a conference when somebody asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook stored data and protected users’ privacy.

“And Zuckerberg said: ‘I do not understand your question. Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear.’ ”

I guess if you are happy trading away your security for comfort, then everything is fine but user beware – you are increasingly amongst a declining group – that is increasingly targeted by hackers, technology platforms and governments alike.

 http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=Facebook%2C%20Google&cmpt=qUntitledJust check out this lovely video by an Italian Hacking company that sells it software to various government agencies.

At the end of the day, if it isn’t open source and proven to be secure, don’t use it!