Thoughts From The Factory Berlin... Cities Finding Their Voice / by elton rivas

The Factory Berlin: Grand Opening Celebration.

The Factory Berlin: Grand Opening Celebration.

As I sit here in The Factory (a campus for startups and mature tech companies in Berlin Mitte) working on One Spark Berlin with our team I can’t help but think back to the early days of One Spark in the states. The same challenges we faced then, we face now. The same concerns we faced then, we face now. The same emotional ups and downs of starting something new in a very short period of time are recurringly similar feelings now. The same pressure. The same fears. The same tired laughs. And yes, even some of the same disbeliefs of what we are trying to accomplish. A lot is just the same as it was a little under 2 years ago this week.

Yet, there are so many noteworthy differences giving us the encouragement to press on. First, the city of Berlin itself. If I had the opportunity to handcraft a city that’s passionate about supporting startups and creatives of all types it would embody the elements Berlin shares most proudly:

  • a low cost of living with beautiful streets
  • a concerted effort by public & private sectors to support the startup scene's growth
  • a talented, educated and young workforce
  • wonderful public transit
  • enough capital to get companies started
  • more coworking spaces than almost any other city in the world

Even with all of these great attributes, there’s still a sense of being a bit of an underdog. I like that. As our Managing Director in Berlin put it, there’s a strong connection between being the underdog that pulls yourself, and those around you, up by your bootstraps and gets on with it. There’s a certain twinkle that people, and dare I say, places get after making it out of the little resources available at any given time and building something of greatness. Everything in the Berlin scene embodies that. Even this grand new space that I sit and write this at, The Factory, fought tooth and nail to be built.

The ones who are focused and believe that they have to work harder to gain ground are usually the ones who produce the best results. It’s the passion that burns inside a startup community such as this one that reminds me why I care about my hometown of Jacksonville, FL so much. The same passion and “underdog drive” has helped spur nearly a half million people to attend the first two One Spark festivals in the states during the past two years and connect over 1,000 Creators with the resources they need to move their ideas forward.

As we work here with the team and start the process for registering Creators for One Spark Berlin, I can’t help but hope that our team never loses that sense of being an underdog. That we may always keep the desire of always pushing harder in order to achieve something that “can’t be done here,” or that is “unthinkable.” It’s those boundaries that One Spark Creators are going to break. It’s the reason that we started One Spark. To build a worldwide platform to help Creators launch by breaking through the digital noise and connecting people with people the old way, in person.

Creator registration for One Spark Berlin is now open at I am excited to see which projects are going to push the boundaries even further this year!

There’s a saying in Berlin that came from a former Mayor back in 2004… “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy” (Berlin is poor but sexy). More cities around the world need to find their voice and share it with the world.

Here’s to the underdogs that are going to come out fighting at One Spark Berlin!


**Originally published at