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Venture capital firms focus on Berlin

Friday, Oct 28, 2011 - 02:22

Oct. 28 - The German capital has gained a reputation as Europe's newest start-up hub, and now venture capital firm Earlybird is setting up an office in Berlin to be closer to the firms it wants to invest in. Joanna Partridge reports

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Their office in Berlin hasn't been set up yet but Earlybird Venture Capital is already hard at it. The German capital is now the place to be to invest in start-ups. Principal Ciaran O'Leary has moved here from Munich. SOUNDBITE: Ciaran O'Leary, Principal at Earlybird Venture Capital, saying (English): "I think it's the only place we can be to be honest, we had this moment in February when we were in Berlin and we just looked at how many investment opportunities we have here, we looked at our portfolio and we said what are doing in Munich and in Hamburg." And two weeks later we already signed the lease agreement." Berlin is now seen as a European technology hub. The relatively low cost of living, plenty of office space and a lively creative scene have attracted budding entrepreneurs from around the world. CrowdPark is a two-year old social betting firm which Earlybird invested in. Ingo Hinterding is CrowdPark's CEO. SOUNDBITE: Ingo Hinterding, CrowdPark CEO, saying (English): "People love to make bets like on sports events, on news events, all the latest celebrity gossip. And they're very connected over social networks and we are adding that betting layer to this kind information." Betters can play CrowdPark's game Bet Tycoon on Facebook - and it's currently the biggest betting game on the social media site, and has around 1 million users. Players from around the world don't bet with real money, using instead CrowdPark dollars, bought using Facebook credits. CrowdPark had a staff of just 4 a year ago - now they have 20 - and they say the Earlybird investment - estimated to be 5 million euros - has allowed them to grow faster. On its own CrowdPark isn't going to dent Berlin's 13 percent unemployment rate but Ciaran says the high quality of many start-ups in Berlin is now attracting valuable foreign investment. SOUNDBITE: Ciaran O'Leary, Principal at Earlybird Venture Capital, saying (German): "There are several start-ups here that already have a couple of hundred employees and if they continue to grow the way they've been growing in the past years, then I think you'll be able to create a pretty sizeable economy here and I think also in the past they didn't have such an impact because they were business models focussed on Germany and now you have guys building global businesses from Berlin." Germany has weathered the storm surrounding the euro zone debt crisis better than some of its neighbours. And some analysts say Crowdpark and other start-ups are building businesses that could help Germany maintain its economic strength for years to come Joanna Partridge, Reuters

Venture capital firms focus on Berlin

Friday, Oct 28, 2011 - 02:22

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