You Are A Founder

Six years ago, the soccer world cup in Germany was accompanied by a big promotional campaign under the motto “Welcome to Germany.” Now, the campaign is back – and the focus is on Germany as the land of entrepreneurs.

The call came out oft he blue: the promotional campaign “Welcome to Germany” was being renewed with a focus on domestic entrepreneurs. The original campaign – initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the “Land of Ideas” initiative – had been launched during the soccer world cup in 2006 and had advertised Germany as an open country with beautiful landscapes, an engaged citizenry, and a vibrant civil society. Prominent Germans lent their voices and faces to the campaign.

This year, the campaign will present domestic entrepreneurs. The focus is on people who immigrated from other countries and founded a business in Germany, or who work in new innovative industries as highly-skilled employees. The message: Germany is a place where new economic ideas can blossom. The testimonials of foreign-born entrepreneurs are supplemented by a separate video featuring a native German as someone who can represent German entrepreneurialism. I was asked to fill that role, and gladly accepted.

The opportunity to be included in the spot as a representative of Germany’s start-ups shows how much the organizers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know and respect our industry. It’s no coincidence that Berlin is sometimes referred to as the “German Silicon Valley.” The short clip is a further promotion of the capital’s lively start-up scene. But its scope is much wider: successful start-up companies exist throughout the country, in Munich as well as in Hamburg.

The spot will be shown in countries around the world. It intends to inspire people to come to Germany and found a business. Let’s hope that it will also result in tangible improvements of the time-intensive and bureaucratic procedures that are currently necessary to receive work permits for Germany. I recently devoted another column to this topic: German embassies around the globe are the first recipients of work visa applications from abroad, and a vital hinge for those entrepreneurs who seek a future in Germany. The degree of bureaucratic organization is important: it determines how quickly visa applications are received in Germany and how efficiently they can be processed.

Germany must weather international competition – not only in the start-up sector. “Made in Germany” still holds the promise of efficiency, innovation, and good infrastructure. State and municipal governments must help to create the fertile ground for entrepreneurs and become more efficient themselves. Citizens are their “customers.”

In July, we spent an exhausting day on set to film the spot. If my memory serves me right, it was the only day this summer without any clouds. We filmed at several locations in Berlin, but it was important that the sets could be anywhere in Germany: parks, cafés, galleries, and manufacturing businesses.

The text was provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My role was not only to be the voice of Germany’s start-up industry but also to provide a general introduction to Germany as a place where budding entrepreneurs can find ideal conditions to found their companies. I was happy to see that the text also situated Germany within the wider European context. One thing is certain: no matter how awesome Germany might be, we can only prosper internationally if we bundle our assets with our European neighbors and seek to improve together.

Newconomy is the new weekly column for the start-up industry. It focuses on the intersection of classical and new economies and of politics and entrepreneurialism. Newconomy is sponsored by Factory, the new start-up hub in Berlin.

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