It all started with our participation at a hackathon in Berlin, organized by Evernote and Deutsche Telekom. We hadn't planned to join at all, but jumped in spontaneously two days before the start. Our hack Context Booster enriched Evernote notes with all sorts of related content from the web. And guess what, we won the hackathon, which took us right to the huge yearly Evernote Conference in San Francisco - and this is where the US story starts.
At the conference, we took part in the Devcup, where 200 participants of all worldwide Evernote hackathons competed. We won the prize for "best for productivity", entered the finals and came out winning the silver award of the Devcup!
From there we got the fast track to the first Evernote accelerator ever. Six startups from six countries spent four weeks at the Evernote headquarter. The accelerator is a great way for foreing startups to enter Silicon Valley - Evernote did not take any equity while paying for all the flights and accommodation. They provided us with an awesome office space right in their headquarter, and we even got a car and Evernote branded bikes.
One of the cool learnings the Evernote accelerator brought along was an intensive LUXR training for lean startupping (the same one which "500 Startups" is giving to their participants). And they set up countless meetings with famous investors, companies like Google and Pocket and great mentors like Guy Kawasaki.
The time in the accelerator was absolutely challenging. Many of the startups pivoted their products completely to aim for more users or more revenue. We’ve done some changes to Context Booster as well, but still remained one of the few teams who sticked to the initial product. We improved our algorithm to analyze Evernote notes even better and now aggregate an amazing page with facts, articles, images and videos according to any identified topic.
Along our stay we went through all phases of excitement about the Silicon Valley. The first: all the people are so great, we want to move to the US! The second: there is plus and minus, so what do we do? The third: we do stay in Berlin and we are confident about it!
What impressed us in the first phase (and still does) is the fact that in the US everybody "thinks big". When we pitched, the most common question was: "How are you going to scale the product?". We seriously and repeatedly heard the comment: "Why not become the next Google?". This is the sheer opposite of German thinking. Feedback in Europe consists of concerns and many reasons why the product will never work. The American way of thinking: try, think big, make things possible. This is very encouraging.
Our second and third phase was dominated by facing the reality of living & working in the Valley. On the business side, staying in the Valley would mean to compete with Google and Facebook in the field of augmented intelligence, especially when looking for talents. This is a losing game, as the big companies pay enormously high salaries complemented by mega conveniences and extras which no small company can afford. Compared to this, it is still possible to hire good staff in Berlin.
On the living side, the Silicon Valley has reached the incredible price level of New York - for no particular value except being where famous companies cover some suburbs. What you get there instead is fast food, daily commuting and the beach still too far for an evening surf.
Looking at it this way, rising a $1mil in the US pretty much equals to 300K Euro in Berlin. In Berlin, we have better access to talents, the quality of life is exceptional, and if you have a great idea you really stick out. When we explained this to US investors they mainly agreed with us - even if they just had told us we had to move to the Valley to get funded.
After all, the Evernote accelerator and the Silicon Valley trip has been amazing. We will definitely return there often, but Berlin won for our company! Also, betahaus is such a good, flexible solution for our team, as we work and meet here, but also work remotely from different locations. Now our team is growing and we are looking for the best geeks of backend and frontend development. Berlin, let's think big together!
Curious about Context Booster? Just register at www.contextbooster.com!
And if you want to join the community, follow this link!
From 8pm on, we'll open The Club where the DJ booth and the dance floor will turn into our playground. We've invited hip hop and pole dancers to open the dance floor and have a friends-only crazy-cool lineup planned for the night. We'll be mixing botanical cocktails with Fritz Cola and inviting you into our Photo Booth Room so you can take home some silly photos from the night. In The Club, you will also find The Balloon Room and The Zen Zone which will be our chill spot for the night. Check out the timeline in The Club and learn more about The Zen Zone below.
20:00 - 22:00 Dj Niggo
21:00 - 22:00 Hip-Hop Dancers
22:00 - 22.30 AinTheMachine
23:00 - 01:00: Michal Vagner
01:00 - 03:00: Asia
The Zen Zone
(to be announced): Cacao Experience with Moruga Cacao
19:00 - 21:00: Tea Ceremony with Thirsty Moon
Make sure to join our Facebook Event and RSVP on Eventbrite, so we can put your name into our Happiness Jar. This birthday bash is all about our community, and together with our partners we've prepared a special Prize Draw.
Throughout the whole night, you will find the rooms of The Basement filled with art pieces from our favorite Berlin-based creatives. From illustrations to paintings to wooden sculptures and installations - we've made sure to host an inclusive Berlin-like mix of all things art. Let us introduce to you to some of the artists, who you will meet down in The Basement:
Have you met .. the Softblobs? Since moving back to Berlin from the US, Gesine Krätzner has been making strange creatures out of fabric that she calls Softblobs. They are cute, random, and they'll be waiting in The Basement if you want to try playing around with them.
From toys made of fabric, we’re moving onto wooden sculptures. Matt Danko knows how to bring wood to life and does it amazingly in his free time. In The Basement, he’ll show his latest furniture pieces and sculptures.
In the same room as Matt, you’ll find Lisa Büscher, who has prepared for us a hyper realistic sculpture presentation that gives it the touch of the extreme, surrealistic and absurd. She de- and reconstructs and reorganizes human bodies like Utopia does society.
Colette is a Berlin-based creative working in photography, art direction and set design. Through her visuals she explores intimacy and anonymity. The space that falls somewhere in between.
Ocean. Now! is a collective that accelerates ocean protection. They work with different types of art to motivate our society to protect the Ocean -Now!
In the early afternoon, based in The Garden, you’ll meet Amaury BOUQUET. He’s a Berlin-based French artist from Saint Maur des Fossés, who has a background in social innovation and loves to play with symbols in his works. At 10 Years in beta, he’ll do his special Humanist Tarot readings from 4-6pm.
Parallel to him, also in The Garden, Sebastian Olivares will be painting live a special Mandala created for betahaus. Sebastian is a Berlin-based visual artist who specializes in painting mandala murals and has painted murals in Germany, Chile, Australia and Thailand.
Throughout the day ilan katin will be putting the party vibes onto a mural, specially created for betahaus. He's a Neukölln-based artist with experience in visual work, both static and performative, graphic design, illustration, comics, installations, animation and live video.
We think this one speaks for itself. If you need a little glitz or glitter to get you into the party spirit, come early and we'll do the rest.
Last, but not least, special thanks to our lovely partners who are helping us making this event happen.
Pilsner Urquell and Fritz Cola for the drinks, Emmy, Drivy, FrameRight, CoffeeCircle, Dream Facilitation, Moruga and BioWine for supporting our Prize Draw and our media partners from Silicon Allee, ASK HELMUT, Creative City Berlin and TechCode.