Berlin and Tel Aviv have made a name for themselves as world-class cities. After all, both
are high on people’s travel plans, bike-friendly, offer a great nightlife, and are lined with a
seemingly endless list of cafés and top-notch restaurants.
But what is perhaps the most exciting about these two cities is the type of person they
attract – the creative.
Tel Aviv is highly regarded as one of the world’s leading tech ecosystems, a haven for
entrepreneurs and startup founders, especially given the number of startups per capita and
the impressive figures related to funding, exits, and IPOs. In fact, Israeli tech activity often
makes quite a lot of headlines throughout the year. In recent news on Israeli business and
, Mobileye was acquired by Intel for just over $15 Billion.
Meanwhile, Berlin has witnessed a rising tech scene, one known for its affordability,
abundance of hungry VCs, and proximity to other European markets.
Considered the leading tech ecosystem in its region, Berlin has become a home for
international and local startups alike.
But while the two cities do have their similarities, Tel Aviv has really made a name for itself
as a world-leading tech powerhouse, while Berlin often rounds out the latter part of the top
So what can Berlin learn from Tel Aviv’s tech ecosystem, as it looks to move from a nice
place to be for entrepreneurs and techies, to a must?
Productivity/Output > Politeness
For Berliners doing business with Israelis for the first time, it’s safe to bet that the European
counterpart may get offended at one point during a conversation. But this is really just how
Israelis and many Tel Aviv techies work, as productivity means a lot more to them than
The Tel Aviv tech ecosystem is filled with highly talented individuals, from programmers, to
designers, to business minded entrepreneurs, that all have one thing in common – the
desire to succeed. This determination fuels the startup community and inspires many
others considering the same entrepreneurial journey.
As Tel Aviv is home to the highest number of startups in a given radius, it also raises many
questions related to competitiveness and market saturation. While there are a number of
early stage hi tech companies competing in the same verticals and even offering similar
products and software as a service (SaaS) solutions, the ecosystem itself remains quite
This is also related to the size of the market and due to the fact that many founders and techies are familiar with each other. Some even have similar military backgrounds, as many tech founders have emerged from some of the same elite units where they honed their technical skills.
Establish International Dominance
For many Tel Aviv techies, staying in the local market is not really an option. This is especially true when you’re looking to scale and take your product and company to the next level. For the most part, most Israeli founders flock to San Francisco or New York as their next destination points, while still maintaining a R&D and tech side in Israel. This is largely due to increasing access to a large customer base as well as proximity to VCs and larger investor communities.
Even before the move itself, Tel Aviv techies are often known to present at international events, conferences, demo days, and investor-related events – these are all part of concerted efforts to increase their international presence.
Creativity > Conservatism
In the Tel Aviv tech ecosystem, it’s not uncommon to entrepreneurs of all ages roaming the halls of co-working spaces and cafés, working on their minimum viable product (MVP) and trying to finalize the details of their one-pager and investment deck. Creativity in general, in all ages, is seen as one of the main characteristics among Tel Aviv techies.
This freestyle approach to entrepreneurship is supported by investors and VC firms, as many are willing to take chances on passionate entrepreneurs capable of thinking outside of the box and addressing real pain points. From cyber security to fintech and other trending verticals, a thousand new startups are sprouting annually in Israel, with very little barriers to entry.
Berlin could learn by this example and turn down some conservative elements in order to encourage a more daring tech ecosystem.
Entrepreneurship in the Heart of the City
Tel Aviv has successfully been able to turn its own bars and streets into exciting entrepreneurial venues. From bringing founders to speak at select bars across the city, to holding tech fairs along main city streets, Tel Aviv has truly become a techie’s dream. In this way, residents and founders can constantly interact, learning from one another, while enjoying what the city can offer.
Berlin, given its abundance of culture and nightlife, could offer similar events to its residents. By bridging the gap between innovation and accessibility, Berlin’s tech ecosystem could expand and transcend well beyond company walls.
What can Tel Aviv learn from Berlin?
While Tel Aviv can offer Berlin lots of ideas and advice in terms of forming a booming tech ecosystem, Berlin itself should be taken seriously by Israeli founders. As a major players in the startup market in Europe, reaching European founders by penetrating the German market may be a wise decision for many Israeli techies.
Instead of hopping on the 1-hour flight from Tel Aviv to San Francisco, perhaps Israeli tech founders should consider first paying a visit to Berlin to meet with local players and meet and mingling with some of Europe’s most prominent and active investors.