The Future Media Lab organised a start-up tour of Berlin together with VDZ Akademie and EMMA.




  • 26-27 FEBRUARY 2015

Event Description

The European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) in cooperation with the Academy of the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) organised a unique tour of Berlin’s start-up scene that took place on 26/27 February 2015. Over the last few years, Berlin has become the top-location for founders. No other city in Germany draws as much venture capital and today approximately 60,000 people work in the digital industry – a number that continues to grow. The inexpensive environment, strong universities and local research institutes – allowing space for innovation – seem to be an ideal breeding ground that encourages and attracts creative thinkers.


The Tour started on 26 February 2015 with a welcome dinner, with addresses by the representatives of the two co-organising organisations: Max von Abendroth, Executive Director of EMMA and founder of the Future Media Lab. and Sebastian Markowski, Project Manager at VDZ Akademie. The dinner also included presentations by CEO and founder of Laterpay, Cosmin Ene; NewsRepublic Country Director, Germany and Spain, Stefan Lange; Alexander Oelling, CEO and Founder of Sensorberg; and Sven Soltau, the Online Marketing Director of Cloud World.

On 27 February, the tour continued with visits to six additional start-ups: Tame, One to Smile, ADSPERT, clipkit GmbH, Blinkist and Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator. There was also a lunch organised at Microsoft Ventures.

Download in PDF

Media Diversity in the Digital Age


Start-ups are innovative as well as disruptive: they interfere with existing value chains and networks; they create new businesses and markets, and they turn existing businesses and markets upside-down. For the media sector, the impact of innovation can be significant: Disruptive innovations change the relationship between a media company and its audience; it impacts how media content can be monetized; it changes how audiences find and access content; it affects how media brands maintain and develop their relationship with their customers, including access to customer data; and it has an impact on how media brands are able to build on the value of the trusted relationship they traditionally have with their readers and users.

Each of the start-ups that we met during the tour has disrupted the media sector in some way, with many offering interesting solutions for media businesses today. News Republic and Sensorberg offered new technology to aid in content dissemination; Blinkist offered a new way of presenting content; LaterPay provides solutions regarding the monetization of content; Adspert and Clipkit both offer solutions for optimizing digital or programmatic advertising; Tame and One to Smile address new ways of marketing; and Cloud World provides new solutions to access software.

According to some of the start-ups we met with, media companies have a reputation of being hesitant to innovate (see LaterPay CEO Cosmin Ene’s recent blog post). The main concerns had to do with the mentality of media companies: they often appear not to be open to new or innovative ideas and instead prefer to work within existing frameworks. However, many publishing houses and media companies are launching accelerators in order to get closer to the start-up world, partially with the goal of integrating the start-up mentality into their traditional businesses.

The start-ups also reflected on the regulatory environment in Germany, and said that more should be done by the start in terms of investing in innovation. They also noted that venture capital is very weak in Europe when compared to Israel, the US and other parts of the world. In fact, the financing gap in Germany today is 3 billion euros.


Photos by Karin Fleming.