v.l.n.r.: Matthias Iken - stellvertretender Chefredakteur Hamburger Abendblatt, Annemarie Heyl - Geschäftsführerin und  Gründerin KALE & ME, Tarek Müller - Geschäftsführer und Gründer ABOUT YOU, Frank Haberzettel - Bereichvorstand Nord Commerzbank AG © Jan Siemers

Is Hamburg founder-friendly?

Issue takes centre stage among experts and start-ups at meeting of digital regulars

Interest in start-ups continues unabated in Hamburg as the digital regulars’ meeting held by the Hamburger Abendblatt and Commerzbank proved Wednesday (November 14, 2018) to a full house at the Trabrennbahn Bahrenfeld. Keynote speakers included Tarek Müller, CEO and founder of AboutYou, Annemarie Heyl, CEO and founder of Kale&Me. The two presented their respective companies and revealed their perceptions of “digital Hamburg”.

Hamburg’s first unicorn

Müller took to the stage first and outlined AboutYou’s rise and its present steady growth. Earlier this year, the company was hailed as Hamburg’s first unicorn and is now valued at USD 1 billion. AboutYou’s rapid growth is thanks mainly to its focus on social media. Müller added: “AboutYou became known through social media and influencers in the first few years. This has led to rapid brand awareness.”

Juice as a lifestyle product

Next up on stage was Annemarie Heyl, who explained the history of Kale&Me. The company sells cold-pressed juices and had to battle for attention in a saturated market. Commenting on the successful image change, she noted: “We wanted to move out of the food category into a lifestyle product. An aesthetic product that can be photographed easily and the co-operation with influencers enabled us to positively change the perception of values.”

Hamburg – digital, innovative, international?

But what is Hamburg really like for founders? The good infrastructure and the “old economy’s” interest in start-ups are just some of Hamburg’s outstanding traits. Not surprisingly, several digital companies have branches or headquarters in the city. Yet, certain companies could be even more international, which Müller echoed. English is the working language at AboutYou, he added. The great international perception of Hamburg through good rankings is another plus and makes the city attractive and better known internationally. “From a digital point of view, Hamburg is okay in Germany. But Germany generally lags behind in the global comparison of tech companies. This requires more large companies as role models,” Müller surmised.

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