Why I'm in Berlin for a week (And Why no one is in Paris)

Jan 18, 2013
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brandenburg-gate-at-nightFor the next seven days, I will be getting an unofficial crash course in the Berlin startup scene. I have been invited by hy!Berlin at their expense to come out to Berlin and see what it has to offer, and with DLD Munich just around the corner (I will not be attending) and The Europas after that, it is quite an opportune time to be out in Berlin; however, most of my excitement is directly related to hy!Berlin. For the next 3 days, I’ll network with startups based in Berlin, German tech companies, VCs interested in Berlin, and bloggers based here (like this guy, this guy, this guy and that gal).

I’ve been critical of Berlin up until now (Mainly because the numbers (dis)prove the hype), and who knows is this week will change my mind, but I know one thing: I’m giving it a chance, and that’s more than I can say about anyone’s opinion of Paris.

Culturally, France is terrible at product marketing. It lines up with their distaste of Americans because we’re “shallow” (their definition of shallow is smiling at strangers when you don’t necessarily like them, so i’ll let you draw conclusions on that one), but this is not an excuse for French entrepreneurs. American entrepreneurs are not like Americans, German entrepreneurs are not like Germans, and so French entrepreneurs can not be like French people.

I recently likened the French to that kid in elementary school who complains that no one gives him credit for shouting out the answers all the time: “we know you’re smart, so shut up about it already.” The French excel in a lot of things – not everything, but a lot of things – but they constantly seek praise for it, which just drives people to use them as the butt of a joke all the time

So what does this have to do with hy!Berlin?

hy!Berlin has been organized in cooperation with entrepreneurs, investors, and large tech organizations (Deutsche Telekom), something that just isn’t happening in France. The event mixes international and national speakers, all speaking English (because they are looking to attract an international audience). While LeWeb will continue to bring Americans out to France, it’s not to see what his happening in France. Why isn’t Orange teaming up with the founders of Criteo & Deezer to bring people out to Paris to see what’s going on? I know they’ve all got the budget – Orange wastes money on Orange Labs, Criteo does its Code of Duty push every year, and Deezer is sponsoring developer events left & right.

Rude Baguette will be organizing more & more events in the future, but we can’t do everything, nor should we. I’ll be coming back to Paris with inspiration from hy!Berlin, and I hope to find successful entrepreneurs, VCs, and tech companies committing resources towards a real startup event, to show people just what we can do in Paris.