I spent 3 months of this year in Berlin. I’m no stranger to the city. Even less now. The only thing constant is that it’s always changing. After selling HackCollege last year and bootstrapping LayerVault for a little while, I had unlimited freedom.
February 11 was Day Zero. I booked a one-way to Berlin. From there, I would figure it out and work wherever WiFi filled the air. Many pins filled my map but no plans filled my calendar. Geographically, I was completely free. And then I got stuck.
When your flight lands in Tegel, it’s always just morning. The small flight harbor—named for a man who killed himself trying to invent flight—is always quiet. Just like the streets of the city. That’s not to say because it’s boring, but because Germans respect peace in public spaces. I immediately assimilated into the German culture with my broken Deutsch and my previous knowledge of the city. The plan was to stay a month and then move on. One month turned into two, two into three. As I left Germany to attend my brother’s graduation, Passportkontrolle gave me a funny look as I squeaked by Schengen.
I met Boys Noize. He said he’d be the first customer of a LayerVault for music. I saw College. I saw old friends, made new ones. Went to Berghain at 11am. I went to meet ups. I worked out of great places. I drank plenty of beer and still ended up losing weight. I lived in an art gallery. Many of the comforts of a home weren’t present, but one makes do.
For all intents and purposes, I was yet another self-employed ex-pat with an inexplicable affinity to Berlin. I still am.
What’s happening in Berlin is nothing short of impressive. In the three months I spent there, I personally witnessed the tech scene ballooning. At Sankt Oberholz: “Why are you in Berlin?”. My response: “Why would you want to be anywhere else?” Berlin has always had it’s share of startups and tech, but never like this. It’s finally getting the accouterments it needs: great coworking places, smart people, venture capital (if you need it), and that intangible it’s-going-to-happen-here-and-nowhere-else. Berlin welcomes with open arms.
You develop an independence in Berlin. You bring back some of these habits. You get a beer by yourself at that place down the street and feel no shame, no doubt. You know how far you can go with nothing more than a suitcase and idea.
You know Berlin.