On Monday, I visited A32, Entrepreneur Forum Berlin Siemensstadt. As you can easily see from the name, the area is owned by German company SIEMENS. They bought land in the area and started to build new factories in 1899.
Siemensstadt sits on the west side of Berlin, and is part of Spandau. Entrepreneur Forum Berlin Siemensstadt or A32 is the result of collaboration between the government, university and Siemens. The government gives funding to the startup, and I met a company that received a funding.
"In this space, A32, we share office and kitchen with other teams," Minchul Lee, CEO of EasyCookAsia said, as he showed me around the space. The co-working space was pretty empty because of Coronavirus 19.
“Berlin has a very good environment to start a business. The price is cheaper, compared to Silicon Valley. People are very open minded. Here, people dress the way they like and talk the way they like. There are a variety of Venture Capitalists and startup incubators. There are a lot of artists of course, and the city is full of creativity,” Lee said.
Lee started his business on May 2018 based on this class assignment in his Design Thinking class. He took the idea and went to startup competition, and he got into top 6 companies that received Berlin startup grant, getting 2000 euros for six months. Apart from that, the company received two Angel Investments.
EASYCOOKAsia: giving access to DIY Asian Food
“Our target is the people who doesn’t have access to Asian food. In fact, 70% of people live outside of B zone in Berlin, and the people who live there cannot find a Asian restaurant near their house," Lee says.
Another problem that Lee saw was that when people cook Asian food, they usually go to both Asian market and local supermarket to buy the ingredients. The sauce used for the dish usually come in big sizes, and after cooking a meal, people usually don't use them. The delivered food contains only Asian goods, and the customers can go buy the fresh produce.
Lee showed me a big box that has 3 menus inside. Each menu serves 6 people, and it costs 47 euros. Lee nows sells the menus individually lowering the price for each menus. For example, Bibimbap costs 9.99 euros, serving 4 people, and Mapo Tofu costs 14.99 euros serving 4 people.
Easy Kungpao Chicken Kit (Image Credit: Chaewon Yoo)
"There were increased food orders due to Coronavirus. I think there will be more delivery service in Berlin due to Coronavirus. There will be more people working remotely, and home offices will be on the rise. There are a lot of people wondering, how should they spend time with their children. I think our customers can cook with their children."
BINUYO: Soap made with natural materials
"Yes, Berlin is a great place for people to make something on their own. Founders get tax benefits," Hanna Kang, CEO of BINUYO says.
Kang makes vegan artisan soaps, shampoo bars and massage oil using natural materials like spinach power, and charcoal. After working as a logo designer for four years, she was tired of working with computer, and she wanted to start something that she can use her hands. She started making leggings, but it was hard to mass produce, so she chose the soap. She said she is now looking for a partner to work with.
Hanna Kang, CEO of BINUYO (Image Credit: Chaewon Yoo)
"Language, visa an money are the biggest problems for foreign founders in Berlin," she says.
The company was established on February 2020 and Kang sells them in flea markets. She is aiming to start a delivery homepage. Her soaps cost 6 to 11 euros. How it differentiates from LUSH, she says, is it has less powerful scent.
Other eye-catching startups in A32 include Sun Crafter, making solar panel for Africa and Native Foods, making insect based snacks. According to co-founders Sebastian Kresner and Camilo Wilisch, crickets have 60% of protein while beef has only 50% of protein.