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Katka Nagyová
January 20, 2014

Lesson learnt of context booster: Why we came back to Berlin after being in the Silicon Valley

Our betahaus member Context Booster went to the Silicon Valley. Sebastian, the co-founder, tells us the story how they got there, took part in the Evernote accelerator and what made them come back to Berlin:

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! 

The new space is six stories spread out across 2800 sqm. We’ll be renovating the building with our members in mind, so here’s what we can promise:

  • 5 Floors of Coworking Areas
  • Event Spaces
  • More Meeting Rooms
  • More Team Rooms
  • More Call Boxes
  • A Rooftop Terrace
  • A Café

We'll be updating The Move landing page with photos as we have them, so watch out for that!

when do you need a notary?

We’ll open the doors of our new space between mid-August and mid-September 2018. We plan to begin moving in July to ensure that the space is functional and comfortable by the time you get there. Bottom line, we’ll do everything we can to make the move as seamless as possible.

The move is our third big announcement of 2018 following the news that we’re be expanding our operations with betahaus | Tirana and managing coworking for Berlin’s new blockchain space, Full Node

The idea behind betahaus was never to be just a coworking space. We wanted to create a platform where people of our generation could thrive personally and professionally. We’ve always thought we could do this on a much bigger scale and we’re thrilled to see it happening. We’re excited about what we’re able to learn from this move, not just for betahaus, but for the future of coworking in Europe.

We’re sure you have a lot of questions about what’s coming next. 

We want to hear from you! Email us at themove@betahaus.com or join us for a closed Town Hall where we’ll answer all of your questions and talk through any concerns. We’ve also started members-only page for FAQs, resources, and important dates about the move (check your inbox!). 

We've got some big changes ahead of us, but one thing's for sure: we're so glad to have you with us for the ride!

We're looking forward to this new challenge, and will keep you updated along the way. Get in touch with any questions you might have about Full Node!

Not a blockchain startup but looking for a coworking space? Be sure to check out the flexible membership options at betahaus!

Finally, You describe your target group as LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), which is a very niche market. Can you tell us more about what type of people they ARE and what theY value? What's some advice you can share to other startups targeting this market?

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