BERLIN – It’s the morning on a train ride on the S-Bahn. Months after the first wave of the pandemic, the train carts are no longer empty like before, in fact, for the first time in weeks, I can count that there’s more humans than empty beer bottles.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve moved to this vibrant city, there’s no place like Berlin that encompasses so well an ironic mixture of incompleteness and completeness. Many would agree that the city is a ‘melting pot’ of culture and ‘anyone can live here’. Berlin is a place for the young and the old, and of course the old that wants to feel young again. Back in the days before the pandemic, my evenings were spent attending events on entrepreneurship, a passionate interest of mine. These events ranged from ‘Pitch Tuesdays’ at APX, to fireside chats hosted by Silicon Alle, and even interesting workshops in Factory Berlin such as this one. A shared common between these event hosts were that they were always ready to give more than they take, and for me that truly encompasses the burning spirit Berlin has for entrepreneurship.
2 months ago I found myself embarking on the journey of joining Draper Startup House – a global hostel chain that bridges entrepreneurs and their dreams, as community manager in Berlin. Having previously worked with Draper Startup House, then Tribe Theory, back in Singapore, it was a perfect opportunity to integrate our company into this lively city that I have since moved to.
The commencement of a 4 weeks launch proposal coincidentally fell right before the global pandemic. That turned so many norms upside down, disrupting work and cancelling all physical events. I’m sure I’m not alone in this when I say that cancelling carefully planned events, while necessary and understandable, still feels like a heartbreak. The question now begs – Is now really the right time to build a community?
To succeed in a whirlwind of unpredictability, one can’t be too attached to old ways of doing things. With physical events cancelled, I could only go back to the drawing board. Thanks to the existence of Internet (and Slack) I was able to huddle towards the global team in Draper Startup House on this never-before situation. Being the only employee in a new city trying to make things work can be lonely and difficult, but with a support system in the company, I’ve managed to pull through. Together with the global team we directed and orchestrated a global 24 hour conference across the continents of Europe, Asia and America. It was an amazing feat within a span of 2 week’s reaching 9,595 live-stream viewers. As Charles Darwin says, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
The startup scene in Berlin is a thriving ecosystem consisting of top international talent and investors. Yet, it remains as one of the most inclusive and open cities for intrinsically motivated entrepreneurs looking to change the world. The German Times reports that “A company is founded every 20 minutes in Berlin.”
What that means for Draper Startup House and myself is that some, if not all startups need help embracing the change this pandemic has brought. Therefore shifting the focus during these hard times, we identified that it is our goal to help as many startup founders in Berlin to be resilient to withstand the crisis, making sure that we’re providing exactly the right product or service at the right time to the right people. Ultimately, going back to the reason why I joined this company in the first place was to help bridge entrepreneurs to their dream goals.
I’d be lying if I say it has been a smooth journey all this while, there’s been days spent stressing on what exactly to bring to a startup ecosystem that already has everything it needs? Well, I believe that the answer is still out there for those who seek, and as I continue riding this S-Bahn physically, I’d imagine my mind joining the crew of Falcon 9, exploring it’s very own mission to discover an out-of-this-world concept Berlin deserves.
As such, Now is the right time to build a community. As the new normal beckons, an aspiring league of entrepreneurs will emerge – and I’d want to be there for them when it happens.