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The Concerned Expat

News from Berlin

We're not aspiring on giving you the latest news. But some things are worth sharing. This is what we're talking about.

Twist: Berlin vs London


Update: The event is postponed – read more below

Twist Berlin #2

Montage: Berlinow. Photo: Berlinow (Fernsehturm) & Simone Graziano Panetto/Flickr (Big Ben).[source]CC BY 2.0

In just a week Berlin and London will battle out which city is the king of the European startup scene. Three London startups will compete against three companies from Berlin.

Jason Calacanis, co-founder of the ThisWeekIn network, and his sidekick Tyler Crowley will pick the show’s best three pitches. The Berlin startups will pitch from Ahoy! Berlin co-working space, with a live stream between Berlin, London, and the hosts in Los Angeles.

Before the actual battle, there will be a pre-competition where a jury will select Berlin’s top three startups for the event. After the show there will be a big party to celebrate the winners.

Here’s the schedule for June 8th
19:00–21:00: Pre-competition
21:00–22:00: Live show
22:00–open end: Aftershow party

Update: The Berlin vs London Twist event is postponed. A new date will be announced soon. Read more here.




Jöns Filsgatan 4, 211 33 Malmö

Flattr is a network for social micro-donations. If you’re a blogger, podcaster, or the like, you can open a Flattr account and add their button to your page. Visitors can then click this button to ”flattr” you, which will transfer a small amount of money.

The Flattr name is a play on words. Flatter, to like something, and flat rate. A user can state that they would like to give, for example, 5 euros each month, and then start to click around on different Flattr buttons. If they by the end of the month has clicked on five different buttons, 5 euros will be distributed across those five clicks. This way, each click would be worth 1 euro. Flattr takes a 10 percent cut, the rest goes to those who have been flattred.

Area served Worldwide

Current status Active


Peter Sunde
Linus Olsson


Federico Pirzio-Biroli
Passion Capital

Flattr’s Per Thulin and Simon Gate during their visit to Berlin. Photo: Berlinow

2,500 euros per month through micro-donations of, on average, 50 cents. Impossible? For Berlin-based podcaster Tim Pritlove it’s reality, and Swedish Flattr made it possible. Flattr has, thanks to Pritlove, become a well known resource in Germany.

This content is also available inSwedish

It’s crucial for Flattr to reach out to further bloggers and web developers in Germany. Consequently, Simon Gate and Per Thulin from the Swedish startup boarded the train from Malmo to Berlin. During the Berlin Web Week, earlier in May, they participated in several conferences, meetups, and a hackathon.

– Berlin is a great city, and the best part is that it has such a vibrant tech scene. It’s fun to meet others in the same line of work and talk, says Simon Gate, when Berlinow meet with the Flattr duo during a break from the coding at 5apps hackathon at Betahaus in Kreuzberg.

Per Thulin elaborates:
– We cannot really say much beyond that. We’ve just talked to tech people, and haven’t really had time to take in anything else. There is always something happening in Berlin, a hackathon or a meetup. In this regard, Malmo (where Flattr is headquartered) is a little poorer.

Have you found any potential collaborations with Berlin startups during the week?
Simon: SoundCloud is one of the largest startups in Berlin, Swedish as well, and we have already a good collaboration with them. We have met with more companies during this visit, and there are several we would like to work with. One service, I can not go into which one, told me that there was a considerable pressure from their users to integrate Flattr. That’s very cool.

Are you going to establish an office in Berlin?
Per: We might not need an office in Berlin, but we have to be at meetups and hackathons more often and represent Flattr. We are getting ready with our platform and want people to use it, but there are still a lot of folks who doesn’t know about us. The companies that are doing well are those who are good at reaching out to developers and represent themselves at hackathons. At each hackathon I have been to, Mozilla and SoundCloud have been represented. We must attend more, clearly.

Why has Flattr become so big in Germany?
Simon: First, I think it has to do with Peter (Sunde, Flattr’s founder), who announced Flattr publicly for the first time at Re:publica in Berlin. I also believe that Flattr is well suited to the German mentality, and the ongoing discussion about copyright and privacy. I think that’s why we’ve had such an impact here.

Per: A major German podcaster, Tim Pritlove, began using Flattr and it has been a big chain effect. Some time ago he wrote in his blog that he earns around 2,500 euros per month via Flattr. It’s good for him, and a proof that the model works. If you wait, something similar will happen in Sweden or any other country.

Is it easy to install the Flattr button on a website?
Per: Many blogs use the WordPress platform, or other major systems, for which we’ve developed plugins that you can activate with a few clicks. But even if you have a website that you’ve coded yourself with html and javascript, it’s very easy.

How do you get your users to start to ”flattr”?
Simon: For example, if you’re in the German podcast scene, everyone already know what it is. Then you just have to include a Flattr button on your page. If you have an audience who has never heard of Flattr, you should introduce it, and explain to them how it works. I also think that the buttons should be easily accessible and visible in connection with the article.

What is the vision for Flattr?
Per: I think we have the potential to transform major industries. What I’ve been thinking about since I started working with Flattr is the music industry. There is a real problem to solve – how artists can get paid these days. Flattr could change an entire industry.

Flattr have managed to interest investors. What do they see in your company?
Simon: We have something that many startups don’t have, a clear business model that you can make money of. If our concept is successful, getting into industries like music and film, it’s a real source of income. That’s where I think our investors see a potential.

Where is Flattr in five years?
Per: Flattr is everywhere! I think the future looks bright, indeed. Micro-payments has been on the table for a long time now. All of the proposed pieces of legislation and regulation, to target those who violate copyright, are strongly opposed by the public. I think it’s a great value to have a constructive solution that can solve this conflict.

Simon: It is also a trend on the internet to skip the intermediaries, like publishing companies, and instead build a direct link between the audience and the creators. Flattr fit like a glove.

Flattr will soon be back in Berlin. A meetup is scheduled June 7th, this time with founders Peter Sunde and Linus Olsson. Aforementioned podcaster Tim Pritlove will also attend.

Artist rendering of the new airport (source: gmp Architekten, JSK International, Björn Rolle, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg).

Due to fire safety problems, Berlin’s brand new airport (BER) will not open on June 3rd as planned.

The opening of the Berlin Brandenburg International airport has been delayed once before, the original opening date was in November 2011. The problem this time is fire and disaster prevention, the reporting channels as well as door barriers.

A new opening date has not been set, as it’s still unclear when the new airport can be opened. August, or maybe September, officials say. The safety goes first.

Update: BER will not open until March 2013.


Justin McMurray, Somewhere founder, at Betapitch. Photo: Berlinow

A few where entertaining, while others where nervous first time pitchers. The winners? Somewhere and Knowable.

Betapitch is a chance for emerging startups to present their idea in front of an audience of investors, tech folks and, of course, the jury. The winners get to move in at Betahaus for six months to develop their business.

The first winner, Knowable, builds a social network for connecting creative ideas to solve everyday problems around the world. Tonight’s other winner, Somewhere, is a matchmaking platform for jobseekers and companies. Their focus is on finding talent that fits a company’s culture, rather than providing endless job listings like ordinary job sites. Somewhere is in open beta, so you can sign up on their site right away.

The other pitchers

Loopcam, an app that makes it easy to create animated gif-loops on your iPhone, has been around for a while. Since they launched last year, they moved from Stockholm to Berlin and got funding from Passion Capital and Soundcloud’s Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss among others.

EinFach is German for “easy” or “a box”. The startup is developing a physical platform, connected to a smartphone app, for exchange of services and products. For example, you leave your coat for dry-cleaning in one of their boxes. When it’s cleaned and ready for pickup you get a notification on your phone.

Optima Labs want to help you keep an eye on your energy consumption. You connect their box to your energy meter, and another box to your wlan-router. Now you can monitor your consumption, and compare with other users in your region.

ShakeBee is a new gesture based messaging app for iPhone by an Armenian startup. All you have to do is shake your phone to send secret messages. An early version of the app is already on App Store.

Greenguin is a crowdsourcing platform for green projects, Mobeelizer adds cloud sync to your mobile apps, Get-A-Gig connects independent artists with promoters, and WhyOwnIt is going to launch a peer-to-peer sharing network for physical stuff. Why buy a power drill when you can borrow some else’s?

Summer in Prenzlauer Berg. Photo: Berlinow

New York 10, London 14, Paris 12 … Berlin 23 degrees!

Summer arrived today, and we all hope it’ll stay for a very long time. This weekend is promising at least, the forecast for Saturday and Sunday is 27 degrees and plenty of sunshine. So pack that bag with your “drug” of choice and try to find a spot in one of Berlin’s countless parks. Or just head for the nearest bar with outdoor seating. Here are some images from today in Prenzlauer Berg.