Frankfurt is emerging as a vibrant European start-up ecosystem supported by its esteemed legacy and finance industries. The city boasts a highly diverse and active network of businesses that are boosted by the region’s exceptional research and education centres.
Frankfurt is the finance capital of Europe, dubbed ‘Mainhattan’, the city is home to the European Central Bank, ECB Banking Supervision – SSM, the European Insurance Oversight, the German Stock Exchange (the 10th largest in the world), Bundesbank, the German financial oversight body Bafin, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and many more. The finance industry employs over 70,000 people and generates revenues higher than many countries worldwide. The city is also home to a multitude of large corporations such as Schott, Opel, Frankfurt Airport, Merck KGaA, Sanofi, and Deutsche Flugsicherung.
This incredible wealth and knowledge within the city have laid the foundations for a thriving technology and start-up scene. Frankfurt’s corporate outfits offer significant benefits to start-ups in the region. Frankfurt has one of the highest concentrations of finance specialists and coders with experience in finance and tax in Europe offering much needed operational support to start-ups.
Furthermore, many of Frankfurt’s large corporations have launched some incredible initiatives to position their business at the forefront of technology and start-up activity. Deutsche Bank launched its Digitalfabrik or digital factory, a project for programmers and finance experts to develop digital banking projects; Commerzbank’s initiative CommerzVentures is investing in “the most ambitious young” start-ups; and Deutsche Borse unveiled its Fintech Hub in 2016, an initiative aimed at supporting the fintech community in Frankfurt and in the Rhein/Main region.
One of the newest programs to arrive in the city is the iconic Silicon Valley accelerator program Plug and Play, which launched a new European fintech program in collaboration with TechQuatier earlier this year. TechQuatier is an international community, incubator and co-working place comprised of over 100 start-ups and 30 academic partners and academic institutions. Corporate R&D spending totalled a whopping €5.5 billion in 2017.
Naturally, Frankfurt is a hub for the FinTech industry with 55% of all local VC investments being acquired by fintech start-ups from 2012-2017. The acquisition of Fintech 360, a trading network for foreign currencies, was the largest start-up exit in German history coming in around €725 million. Interestingly, it was the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that acquired Fintech 360.
However, Frankfurt has a lot more to offer than just fintech and finance. The city has a high concentration of AI, Big Data & Analytics start-ups with 8.5% of all start-ups in the region engaging in one of the three innovative activities. These start-ups acquired just over 13% of all local VC capital between 2012-2017. AI start-up Arago recently received €55 million in venture capital funding. These innovative start-ups are boosted by the fact that Frankfurt has the largest internet exchange point in the world, the DE-CIX.
Furthermore, there is an abundance of large co-working spaces dotted around the city, twenty-two recognised spaces as of 2018. There is also numerous incubators and accelerators that offer vital support to start-up such as; Main Incubator, Pando Ventures, Unibator, Grundermaschine, Commerzbank Content Shift, Accelerator Frankfurt, E&Y Start-up Academy, Merck Accelerator and UX Accelerator.
Lastly, Frankfurt’s high density of research and education institutes provide the talent needed to grow these start-ups into highly successful businesses. 25+ institutions educating over 230,000 students are present in the city and some are infamous for their innovation. Research intense institutions like the University of Mainz are where instruments for Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were built.
At this current time, Frankfurt pales in comparison to other European cities in terms of start-up activity. On the other hand, Frankfurt’s start-up activity is estimated to be growing 50% year on year and with the wealth and knowledge in the city, the future is bright.
Posted by Adam Dunne on 15 July 2019
7 of the Best Tech Offices Around The World
7 of the Best Tech Offices Around The World
In recent times we have seen tech companies go to extreme lengths to provide their staff with incredible workspaces in a bid to attract and retain the best talent in the business. The modern office has experienced a number of changes in the last twenty years or so. We have witnessed the death of cubicle farms with the rise of open floorplans and the tech revolution bringing ping pong tables, beer on tap and a wild array of amenities and designs. In the current tech market, the locus of power resides with the employee. According to Forbes, 93% of workers in the tech industry say that they will stay with a company longer that offers healthier workspace benefits such as wellness rooms, entertainment facilities and healthy food options. We have complied a list of some of the best tech offices from around the world, how does your office compare to these stunning spaces? Etsy Headquarters – Brooklyn, NY Etsy’s solar powered headquarters is a work of beauty. The interior of the office is decorated exclusively with products designed and manufactured by Etsy sellers. Boasting cosy chairs, arts and craft stations and natural wood, the space has a homely feel to it and is full of natural light. Images: Etsy Pionen’s White Mountain Office – Stockholm, Sweden Allegedly inspired by villains’ lairs in James Bond movies, the workspace combines all four elements – earth, wind, fire and water – to ‘bring the outside in’ for workers, according to the architects. This creative office space for the Swedesh internet provider is situated at the base of a mountain, somewhat ironic considering this may not offer the best Wi-Fi speeds. Images: Archive Expo Zynga Headquarters – San Francisco, CA In true Silicon Valley style, Zynga house their 1,700 talented employees in an enormous office complex packed full of entertainment such as ping pong, sketching areas and even zombie shooting areas. This impressive complex has been put up for sale by the social gaming service, just in case you have a spare $600 million lying around. Images: Zynga Airbnb – San Francisco Airbnb’s HQ in San Francisco is truly a work of art. Inspired entirely by the site’s listings, the workspaces are custom made in a variety of ways. Workspaces include house boats, tents, shepherd huts and beach cabins. The underlying concept behind the design is to have employees working in their ‘own home’, allowing staff the opportunity to be their most productive self. Images: Airbnb Google – Everywhere Google, arguably the birthplace of the modern tech office, host their global workforce in an array of stunning complexes across the world. From hanging work cubicles in the Zurich office, to the swings and cars featured in the Mexican base, Google employees are always treated to aesthetic and visual stimuli to keep their brain synapses firing. Images: Google Apple Park, Cupertino, CA Apple’s headquarters looks like something out of sci-movie. The stunning building features 360-degree views with the walls made completely out of glass. The colossal building is a mile in circumference and cost approximately $5 billion to build, yes billion. The interior is flooded with natural light, open plan workspaces and minimalist sleek décor, trademark Apple design. Despite Apple’s significant investment, employees have expressed their concerns with the open plan layout with some threatening to quit if they are forced to work in shared spaces. Images: Apple Facebook, Palo Alto, California Facebook recently completed a major extension of their campus in 2018. Called MPK 21, the space is comprised of numerous flexible workspaces surrounded by tropical plants. The campus also features a central courtyard, the “town square” which is complete with restaurants, amenities and redwood trees. Images: Deezen
Start-up vs Large Corporation
Start-up vs Large Corporation
Join a start-up or a large corporation? This polarizing question has no clear-cut answer but is consistently debated in the software development world. Both start-ups and established corporations come with their own individual set of advantages and disadvantages. There is no black and white answer, it all depends on what you value most. Method vs Madness This is one of the most distinctive differences between the two. In a large corporation, there are clear and well-established processes in place that dictate everything. All tasks are divided into work items and Gantt charts and then equally spread across the team. Everyone fulfils their specialised job role with changes to the process only occurring with pre-emptive planning. Start-ups on the other hand operate on an ad-hoc, needs must basis. Whatever is needed at that time or in the very near future is prioritised. Tasks are not divided equally among the team, nor are they debated over numerous meetings. Work processes and tasks can change very quickly as the start-up moves into a different direction or it loses investment or something else entirely. Corporations’ organised and clearly defined processes remove a lot of ambiguity and ensure that developers are not overworked. However, it often stifles work productivity as time is lost through constant meetings and ‘going through the motions’ of bureaucracy. In a start-up, developers are afforded full responsibility of their work which is very attractive to many. You are likely to be your own manager removing the time-consuming meetings and bureaucratic processes. However, this does come at a cost. If something goes wrong, it is on you to fix it. It doesn’t matter if its 5pm on a Friday or if you already have an unmanageable to-do list, it is up to you to fix it. Professional Development & Career Advancement This is a grey area as both start-ups and large corporations offer great paths to professional development and career advancement but in very different ways. In a large corporation, you will learn valuable skills such as navigating large-scale projects, how to effectively integrate teams, how to work with mature code and the inner workings of large organisations. In addition, you will have a lot of support from developers within the organisation and from extensive training usually paid for and provided by your company. There are clear paths to career advancement on a merit-basis. Those who have clearly demonstrated that they are the best for the job or promotion, tend to get it. On the flip side, start-ups give you the chance to gain working experience in many, often cutting-edge technologies. You will likely have the opportunity to make important architecture yourself while working in different roles on different parts of projects. The support system will however naturally be lower. You will likely work with a select few very smart individuals, but Google will be your best friend for solving issues. Career advancement can be very quick as you will grow as the start-up grows. The earlier you get in, the higher you will advance all going to plan. If you excel in an autonomous role where you dictate how and what work is done, a start-up will work for you. If you excel in a position with clear direction and a solid support system, a large corporation is for you. Pay & Compensation This tends to be the deal breaker for many. Naturally, large corporations can offer a lot in terms of salary and overall remuneration packages. Heavy hitters such as Google, Facebook and Amazon often offer above market salaries with incredible benefit packages to lure in the best talent in the market. Start-ups cannot afford to match the big corporate outfits. You are likely to do the job of three people for the price of less than one in the early days. You will have to acclimatise to a lower standard of living, however there is always the chance that it could pay off in the future if the start-up is a success. Only you will know which one is for you. Start-ups are risky and require a lot of hard-work but they can pay off in a big way. Large corporations are safe, slow moving but can also offer a lot. It all comes down to what you value most and your career aspirations.
Soft Skills Needed for Career Progression
Soft Skills Needed for Career Progression
Are you looking to progress in your career? Soft skills may be the key to propelling you to success. According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 90% of executives rate soft skills as a priority for their employees. You may have every technical skill mastered for your role, but this amounts to little if you don’t work well with others. The modern workplace requires consistent teamwork, collaboration and communication with little room for those who don’t work well with others. Unlike hard skills, which can be easily measured and quantified, soft skills are intangible and difficult to quantify. Soft skills are personable attributes, usually linked to how you work and interact with others. Soft skills are necessary for your success and your career development as they help facilitate human connections and relationships. Effective soft skills make you visible for the right reasons, opening up more career-related opportunities such as a promotion to team lead or management. According to LinkedIn data, the top five most in-demand soft skills in the tech industry are; Creativity Persuasion Collaboration Adaptability Time Management Creativity: Creative employees are always highly sought after. You may think that you’re not creative but there are steps you can follow. Creativity in the workplace is about thinking or doing something slightly different. Approach each task in work with the attitude that the current method is only temporary until it is replaced by something better. Discuss your ideas with people, incorporate their feedback and above all else, don’t be afraid to fail. Put yourself and your ideas out there, failure is necessary for success. Persuasion: Being able to persuade others that your idea or way of doing something is no easy task but it is necessary to achieve your goals and objectives. There are many ways to persuade people, some more shady than others such as nagging and coercion. Successful persuaders get others to buy into their idea. You need to understand how your audience thinks, what makes them tick. Practicing active listening and empathy are excellent ways to discover how someone thinks. You also need to really believe in your idea and communicate it well, don’t be afraid to receive some negative feedback, it is part of the process. Collaboration: Collaboration is essential in work. Within the tech industry, it is the norm to collaborate across departments and teams due to the nature of the work. Building effective collaboration is more than teamwork, it means building trust. It is important to communicate clearly about everyone’s role in the process and agree upon it. It is important to place the overall goal ahead of your personal goals or recognition, true collaboration is about the overall outcome. Recognising others for their work or contribution and offering credit is a great way to build collaboration. Adaptability: Adaptability is one of the most sought-after qualities in an employee as advances in technology continue to accelerate at an increasing rate. The ability to modify one’s thinking, beliefs and behaviours to better suit the current or future environment is becoming essential in the modern digital age. It is almost impossible for organisations to keep up with the rate of change, adaptable employees are the key to future-proofing the business. To be adaptable in the workplace, you need to be open to new projects outside your comfort zone, accept and embrace that your role may change to better suit market conditions and convey calmness and confidence when you are faced with a sudden new dilemma. Time Management: Time is a great equaliser, everyone has the same number of hours in the day and learning how to effectively utilise your time is the key to success. Setting goals and prioritising each goal is a great way to manage time. Before completing any task, assess how urgent the priority is and how much of your time does the task warrant. Consistent planning is an essential element of time management, keep control of your daily, weekly and monthly workflow. For more tips on time management – read this blog (Insert link: https://www.sigmarrecruitment.eu/blog/2019/08/how-to-improve-productivity-at-work).
Cost of Living in Berlin
Cost of Living in Berlin
It’s not breaking news that the cost of living in Berlin is rising as the city has transformed from “poor, but sexy” to the one of the hottest start-up locations in Europe. The phrase cost of living is subjective as it means different things to different people. For the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on the costs of everyday life such as rent, food and travel. Rent Berlin, once famous for its cheap rental prices is now catching up to its EU counterparts. Rental prices are fluctuating so much between neighbourhoods that it is hard to pin down an average cost, but the following map showcases the price in each area of Berlin for a two-bedroom apartment of 70m squared (without bills and utility costs). Hotspots such as Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Charlottenburg are very expensive areas to live in, however there are still affordable areas within the city limits. Furthermore, Berlin operates a highly efficient and affordable public transportation system enabling people to live outside of the city centre without having to face a daunting commute to work every day. A full breakdown of the different neighbourhoods is available here. Although rents in Berlin have risen dramatically, they are still very affordable compared to other capital cities such as London and Paris. Food & Drink Food and drink is very affordable in Berlin whether you opt to dine in or out. There are plenty of reputable discount grocery shops, Lidl, Aldi, Netto and Penny to name a few. There is also an abundance of higher end grocers such as Rewe, Edeka or Karstadt, and organic shops where prices are higher but still affordable. The city is also littered with a number of fantastic food markets where you can get some fresh veg for the week for €15 or so. It’s very easy to find cheap beer and wine in Berlin with a Späti (convenience store) at every turn. You can pick up a can of beer for around 80 cents and a bottle of wine from €4. If you decide to eat out, it won’t set you back too much. A basic lunch with a drink within the business districts will cost you between €7-€12 and even less if you opt to indulge in one of the many Turkish kebab shops that populate the city. A mid-range restaurant meal for two (3 courses) will cost around €50 but of course you can decide to spend more or less depending on your choice of meal. A domestic German beer (500ml) in a pub costs around €3.30 with a nice cocktail setting you back around €8. If you’re looking for a caffeine hit to get you through your day, a standard Americano is around €2.20 with cappuccinos/lattes costing approx. €3.30. Travel Berlin is a very cycle friendly city thanks to its (mostly) good cycling infrastructure and flat terrain. However, the weather can be less than friendly during Winter months so public transport may be your only option. The U-Bahn, S-Bahn and bus system all use the same tickets which is handy if you’re buying a longer pass. AB tickets cover the entire city area and Tegel airport and prices are: Single trip €2.80 Four trip single tickets €9 Day Ticket €7 7-day ticket €30 Monthly ticket €81 Overall, Berlin is a very affordable city compared to its EU counterparts. The value for money you get in Berlin is unrivalled by many other cities as its such a vibrant, exciting city located in the heart of Europe.