Berlin’s Startup Scene

As capital of a country known for world-class industrial strength, Berlin is a laggard in terms of capital and labor. But what it lacks in industrial oomph, it is now making up for in a new, growing crop of innovative startups. Handelsblatt Global Edition looks at seven Berlin startups that are transforming the “poor but sexy” city into a darling of Germany Inc.


#7 Sygns


It’s sexy, it’s arty, and it was handmade in Berlin just for you: it’s your own neon sign. Handelsblatt Global Edition editor Chelsea Spieker visited Sygns, a startup catering to a niche market for curated, wordy art installations. While neon signs have become popular and the company has solid funding, it still faces an uphill battle with brand recognition.


#6 Sonnenrepublik


It’s a product for everyone who has a phone, and it fits in a handbag: It’s your new personal solar panel. Handelsblatt Global Edition Editor Chelsea Spieker spoke with the founder of Sonnenrepublik, a Berlin startup created in 2012 that manufactures portable solar chargers for mobile devices. The markets are endless, but sky-high costs and fierce competition from China may cloud the company’s outlook.


#5 Ascribe


How can artists be compensated in the digital art world? Handelsblatt Global Edition Editor Chelsea Spieker visited Ascribe, a portal for artists started in 2014 by Canadian entrepreneurs which answers that question. By registering on their portal, artists can keep track of their work online for better customer targeting and higher revenues. It targets a premium market with global expansion potential.


#4 Infarm


Handelsblatt Global Edition Editor Chelsea Spieker spoke with the founder of Infarm, a startup which combines ancient Babylonian hydro techniques with modern LED lighting to grow produce indoors. Vertical farming satisfies mainstream consumer concerns about where products come from, but finding distribution channels for their pricy produce is proving a challenge for this seven-man team.




Handelsblatt Global Edition editor Chelsea Spieker spoke with the cofounder of KIWI.KI, which got its startup bearings in Berlin’s famous Factory incubator. The firm manufactures sensors which unlock doors from 10 feet away for handless and key-free entry. A review found the firm stands on solid ground, but may face problems of scaling and data security.


#2 Panono


Handelsblatt Global Edition editor Chelsea Spieker visited Panono, a company that created a ball shaped camera that contains 36 individual cameras that look in every direction. It takes a full 360-degree panoramic picture in a single shot. Thrown in the air, the camera automatically takes a picture at the highest point, allowing you to scroll through and view every angle as if you were standing right where it was taken.


#1 Outfittery


Handelsblatt Global Edition editor Chelsea Spieker visited Outfittery, a men’s clothing specialist that employs stylists instead of salespeople. With an international staff of over 200, the company hopes to change the way men shop by offering a more curated experience. An inside look reveals a solid business model – but also room for improvement.


Credits: Series Editor: Tal Rimon; Presenter, Narrator, Researcher: Chelsea Spieker; Video Editor: Guy Raphael; Film Director: Steffi Cassel; Camera: Jens Grumpelt, Justin Morris (Outfittery and Ascribe), Graphics: Christoph Schmid