Our last day of company visits started off with a visit to Deutsche Bank’s Innovation Lab in Berlin. One of three existing labs (a fourth is soon to open in New York), the lab exists to help the bank adopt vital new technologies to help modernize its tech infrastructure, hopes to screen some 500 fintech start-ups per year to develop security, payments, efficiency, organization or process applications. At the Lab we were met by Dr. Luc Meriochaud (Director of Innovation at Deutsche Bank) and Christian Borngraeber who walked us through how the lab helps startups and fosters innovation. The lab views success as the adoption and application of technologies to Deutsche Bank’s business. Unlike other incubators or accelerators the lab does not have a structured path toward this goal but facilitates innovation through hosting workshops, providing connections to strategic partners, and access to resources.
After lunch we then made our way to the offices of SoundCloud. Originally founded in Sweden the company has set up camp in Berlin since 2007 and is a publishing tool/community for audio creators and listeners. The company has raised over $100M in financing from firms such as Union Square Ventures and KPCB. At the offices we were treated to a four person panel that included David Noel (Head of Communications), Nadines Gaulich (Head of Audience Research), Cole Mercer (Product Manager- Streaming), and Ele Diakomichalis (Head of Data Insights). The conversation revolved around everything from the future of audio media on the internet to the startup working culture of Berlin.
Following our stop at SoundCloud we moved on to the FinTech Startup Number 26. The young startup aims to revolutionize the traditional banking industry and how people spend, save and send money. Founded in 2013, the company has experienced tremendous growth and raised money from well-known investors such as Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures. Upon arrival we were given a tour of the startup’s three-floor office. We met with development teams, customer support heads, and finally with Alex Weber (Manager of Strategic Projects). Alex gave us a live product demo and proceeded to answer all our questions over an hour of open Q&A.
For our final company visits we split up into groups for a relaxed dinner at two food startups. Group A headed to fast-growing Rocket Internet founded Fresh Direct and the Group B to Berlin’s Coffee Circle (where group organizer Manuel Hein spent his summer working on sales infrastructure). At Fresh Direct, participants cooked and ate their own fresh direct meal. Following a brief presentation , at Coffee circle we dined on sushi and brewed our own espressos and pour over coffees. With our bellies full we ended our final day of company visits before enjoying a weekend of sightseeing.
Diego Cuenca ’16
Chazen Germany 2016