»Come to Germany to be a world leader«

Sebastian Gaiser, responsible for German government affairs at the U.S. Medical and Pharmaceutical Corporation Johnson & Johnson, works at the Group’s Berlin office and maintains contact with politicians. He encourages medium-sized companies with foreign roots to actively participate.

October, 2017

Why did you choose Berlin as your base in Europe?

The European start-up hubs that were the most famous at the time were London, Stockholm and Berlin. Berlin is the most central and has a better cost of labor than London. It was a rational choice. I needed a large engineering base, the ability to attract talent at affordable prices from Eastern Europe and to be able to scale fast. We are 60 per cent engineers now.

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of Berlin  as a start-up hub?

For small start-ups who have no real idea of how to build a large company, the ecosystem in Berlin is great, but two things have to happen to grow it. First: access to more senior talent who can scale businesses. I want Berlin to produce the million- or even billion-dollar companies that come out of London or Stockholm. Second: more small exits in the second and third years to allow capital back into the system.

Did you have any preconceptions about Germany before coming here?

The general image of Germany is one of a very organized country with an efficient and productive population. Berlin is a melting pot, known for diversity and freedom, for the music and the art scene and recently for the strong tech environment.

Since moving here, have your views about Germany changed?

I was expecting some obstacles, especially for a non-German speaker, like opening a bank account. Instead, Germany and Berlin welcomed me very well. It is my home now.

How does the working culture differ from New York or London?

I have lived in New York and it is more competitive, fast-paced and with crazier working hours. Both cities are extremely diverse, multicultural and offer access to anything you are looking for. The extra advantage of Berlin compared to London and New York is that there is a higher quality of life here.

What do you like about living and working in Germany?

I very much appreciate the alternative and international vibe of its capital, standing on the backbone of a strong German economy. Given the political wildness that is happening in the world, I also find security in the leader of the country I live in today.

Photo: Sebastian Gaiser | © Sebastian Gaiser

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