Recently I’ve pulled myself a little more out of the huge amount of startup events going on here in Berlin every day. As the doer I simply am, doing these socialising things cost me energy and are something is nothing I particular enjoy all the time, but I see the benefits and therefore try to make an effort. But lately is has just become to much, so much that there were weeks I was out every day drinking, without spending as much as a Euro. But at the end of that week I was getting really depressed because the downside is, you are not getting anything done.
So, after that particular week, I prescribed myself a week without any of those events, nor meeting people to talk about their startup over lunch or beers or whatever. One of my most productive times in a while. Since then I put myself into a schedule where there are times, come hell and high water, I do not go to any startup- and tech-meetup/-events/-drink-ups/-parties. Because otherwise I am simply not very productive.
But that left me with a thought. As there is so much going on in the startup scene, every night there is a startup making a house warming or an investor making their introduction by paying for beers, that you can get easily get lost in that. And when you compare this to the living costs here in Berlin, you notice that you can have a pretty great time, partying a lot without actually having much income on the other side. So it is not really a requirement to be doing anything to be part of these events and call yourself an startup person.
Then I came across an article in the New York Times by an australian Musician, who described the same exact problem for him with the art and music scene in Berlin: after coming here with his band to record a new album and finding everything super amazing and always someone to talk to art and music about, he eventually got back to Melbourne. He blames the city as it is right now as the main reason why they actually didn’t produce any album because “In Berlin, You Never Have to Stop”.
What stayed with me after the article is exactly that quote he got from a guy about drawbacks this brings within: “In L.A., people actually get stuff done because you’ll go homeless if you don’t hustle. Here you can be superpoor for years and still live comfortably.” . BAM. There it was, in two sentences, what I was seeing in the startup scene here in Berlin and what makes such a difference to other startup places like let’s say Stockholm or Munich - they are so expensive, you simply die if you don’t produce anything. Other in Berlin, over here it is more comfortable talking about it than actually getting it done. Because the first means partying while the second requires actual work.
Now, he was talking about the music and maybe parts of the arts scene and one could argue, that this doesn’t mean it is the same for the startup scene. But aside from that there is a big part of the startup scene which identifies themselves with the art scene and I’d argue that both rely on the anti-establishment-idea behind, another article in pando daily came back to mind in which Francisco Dao argues that “Networking is for losers” - at least in the sense of talking to many people on some startup event or tech meetup. But while he wants to shift the focus on friendships, I’d like to quote a different part of his argument:
Contrary to popular advice, networking is for losers. Why? Because the kind of people you want to meet aren’t out at networking events, handing out business cards. Think about it. Have you ever seen Marc Andreessen at a Tweet-up or a monthly chamber of commerce mixer? Of course not. He doesn’t have time to hang out with smankers and people trying to sell him things. Going to an open networking event is like going to a dating party for really unattractive people. There might be an occasional diamond in the rough, but usually it’s just rough.
You gotta admit that makes complete sense. As a real entrepreneur, who wants to get things done, you might be at an event once in a while as it offers something super valuable or just to slack off. But in doubt, his time is better spent working on his thing instead than talking about it with random people.
So Berlin Startup Scene, you are at fork of the road, what should it be: Slacking off and become a brief memory in the head of us hedonists or do we want to sit down, get some actual work done and make it into the history books for good? Your choice.