The only way to get familiar with a new place is to be there, walk around there, bike there, eat there, have fun there and perhaps even explore the “there” with others.
That was also the way Berlin – startup city was explored as The Kaospilots from team SUI 5, which included 4 different nationalities put their feet on the ground on Sunday the 14th of May 2017 to spend one week in “The city that never sleeps”.
We all checked into the little shack of a hostel named X Berger, as it was definitely not what you would consider a palace or… a totally clean place, but good enough for flexible entrepreneurs, ready for about anything.
Monday, May 15th 2017
At 9.30 we started the day and week at The Lower East Lab, which is a design and event space and a hub for the many that come through Berlin and has personal or business relations with Jørgen Smidstrup and his wife Helle Pedersen.
Here we got an introduction to what they are doing in Berlin, how they got there and then we went on a trip, or a safari, apparently.
Safari´s usually takes place on a different continent, but due to the fabric of what makes up the Lower East Lab and the designers Jørgen and Helle, they have coined the phrase “Urban Safari” or what could also be called a touristic bike ride in and around the streets of Berlin.
So on this beautiful Monday and the first full day in Berlin – startup city, we went around on two wheels and got familiar with the city and also where the wall between East and West had been.
Another addition to the safari around the concrete jungle was to bring a creature, which absolutely had no reason to be in a jeep or in Africa, but a penguin was to be carried by one person in each of the three groups we were in, which purpose was to look good on photographs which showed a potential for possibilities in Berlin – here are a few of them:
That was the first mission and that was going on while being introduced to the co-working space Beta House, Urban gardening Berlin and a cool store Modulor Planet, which was the dream for any artist and creative soul, as some of the pictures show, there were many things to manifest creative ideas. We went around to the places we fancied and “shot” a penguin at the same time.
Jørgen also has a knack for cooking and puts his humbleness as a person into delicious meals for clients, “random” Kaospilots and other types of entrepreneurial folks who come through The Lower East Lab, so in between wheeling on two, we got a taste of what that was like.
I speak for everyone here when I say that it was scrumptious and if the penguins we carried were alive I am sure they would have taken a bite too…!
In the afternoon, was also the day we were introduced to the interesting project Redi School of Digital Integration – a project that helps energetic and motivated refugees who have a passion for digital work to learn and acquire the knowledge to get work in this field.
It was a former Kaospilot who started this great idea and we were around the afternoon to practice out their philosophy of “Give to Get”, which we did by helping them change three spaces in their lofty and roomy facilities.
The highlight for some was definitely the kitchen, which transformed from dead white walls to something… some would say is a bit more island like.
That didn’t stop – the inspiration was literally HOT & COOL, which was written with tape above the toaster and under the refrigerator to spice up the colors a bit and it worked in both the energy in the room and in the people around the kitchen.
(This picture is from the check-out and ending of the afternoon with Redi)
A tradition began in the evening…
Being 4 different nationalities, in a “uber” international city called for visiting a new country or restaurant every night. The first night on Sunday was Indian for some and American for others and on Monday evening the land of India and its delicious curries were explored…
… and too much of it too – the Penguin wouldn´t have had had a chance to swim after that… and neither did we and so was a first day in Berlin over and with bellies full of naan and bastmati rice we returned to the curvy bunks at the X Berger hostel.
Tuesday, May 16th 2017
The day might as well start rather well and the small vegan/vegetarian breakfast café Zazza and its muesli quickly became a favorite among the group.
Berlin is said to be the place of Milk and Honey, but why?
Is it because of the fast pace energy? Is it because of the massive international presence? Is it because of all the delicious food? Is it because Germans like to drink milk with honey? Or is it because of the energy behind entrepreneurship?
In short; its all of it but as entrepreneurs, you feel that entrepreneurial energy and you see it. You see it in the immense amounts of restaurants, businesses and the many shops, stores and projects all over and you FEEL it in the energy!
We had already been at the school and project Redi, and today we were going to another place; an innovative co-working space for artists and creators of all kinds called KAOS.
KAOS had been around 4+ years and was a big warehouse type of building renovated by tearing down a huge wall and setting up many different types of workshop rooms for many different types of crafts.
We were there to see how we could help them establish an overview of their project, which included the business model, income, expenses, how the place was used and understand the value this place held for everyone involved.
This was how one of the three groups were working this out, one more intense than the others… (check the eyes of the person with the cap 😉 )
… nevertheless a lot of inspiration and useful information was shared and posted-noted on the Business Model Canvas to visualize that overview.
In the evening…
… as the others, another country and another restaurant were visited and for some it was Japanese.
And some didn’t have enough and while one left the group to get some shut-eye, the rest went on to party, sing and enjoy a guitar player in the street of Berlin – another one of the many that never seem to go to sleep in this city of speed, Milk and Honey.
Wednesday, May 16th 2017
Yes, that was the words William Wallace used when screaming his lungs to pieces just before he got his head cut off by a massive axe by a person who definitely didn’t believe in freedom whatsoever.
Anyway, the day was off and meant that there was no schedule, so just how captured doves act when their cage open, and after a Zazza-breakfast visit of course, the Kaospilots in Berlin flew away like a wild sandstorm.
Mario and David decided to check out a roof top for lunch, Melina wandered on her own to a smoothie-environment in a quieter place in Berlin, Doménica and Ulrik spend the time by themselves, so did Tulani and Steve. Mandisa visited her boyfriend and Gideon, well – he just wandered around Berlin as well.
(Amazing Street art filled the streets of Berlin)
An assignment that was up for grabs, was to connect with a minimum of 10 people and bring at least one to the planned community lunch that was going to be held on Friday the 18th of May that week – so this day of absolute freedom was obviously a day that could be used for that.
But, in the evening…
Some met in another country yet again, this time in Greece in a Greek restaurant, where tzatziki was enjoyed along with specialties from the Mediterranean and a Greek host who enjoyed giving more than one shot of Ouzo to his customers.
And while others were hanging in couples of love and friendship the group all in all enjoyed Berlin and its wildness.
The break in the middle of this week came to an end and all the sandy winds made all of the dove-like Kaospilots come back to the X Berger Hostel and another round of sleep on curvy bunks, in rooms with a less than mediocre smell of sour socks went to sleep.
Thursday, May 17th 2017
By now you might wonder why in the world the headline of this blog post has a question regarding what is good about no WOW-plan?
You see, as Kaospilots we learn many tools and models and with these tools educated in establishing order in any type of chaos in any type of organization or company. With that order create great outcomes or “WOW´s” when something goes well or actually when it is so much better, than well, that the only word to use is: WOW!
The WOW-plan that we are taught states to have a goal or WOW that you are shooting for, that if this will be accomplished then it cannot get better than that.
From there you take 3-5 milestone-steps and set split-goals to reach with dates from when you start a project up until the pursuit of the deadline and hopefully the WOW-result you were shooting for!
On this morning, we were going to witness a project that definitely didn’t believe in a plan and definitely not a WOW-plan.
Jørgen made a short introduction and then Anna took over. A feisty lady with bones in her nose who was one of two behind the company called Big Stuff Smoked BBQ. An American inspired smoked meet and burger joint, who had nothing but a broken relationship as a foundation for the inspiration to start a food company.
Anna and her former partner broke up and then started a company together and having no clue about how, they just began. Ordering a big smoking oven to Berlin, go to work on the concrete floor of Markhalle 9 where they are now based, create menu´s with less than a handful of items on cut out cardboard and well… open the doors!
(Anna sharing her stories with us all)
Of course, it was not easy, but what was interesting to us Kaospilots was her energy and to witness a person not thinking about how to do anything buy why she wanted to do it and then DO IT!
No real plan, no real expert knowledge of the industry, simply sheer gritty teeth, blood, sweat and tears and 20 hour working days of establishing this business and learning by doing along the way was “the plan”.
After her presentation we had rounds of sharing and then we went into groups where we ideated on how The Lower East Lab could be used. The three groups made three short presentations and a way to connect ideas to use both here and for ourselves.
The half school day ended just after lunch, which we had at Markthalle 9 and most of us at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ, although a few vegetarians stuck away to Turkey to seek veggies.
Team meetings about the assignment of creating this blog as well as meetings in our exam-teams happened during the afternoon and then it seemed that Thursday evening was the evening to see old friends…
… and even though the team were not all together, India, Italy and other excotic was experienced inside delicious restaurants around Berlin.
Friday, May 18th 2017
Ich bin ein Berliner!…
… was what JFK so famously said, and he might only have been in Berlin a few days – who knows. So it might not take long to feel affection for Berlin and most of us had found and/or experienced that.
The day today was a wrap-up of the week, harvesting of what was learned and what was experienced and a community lunch at Lower East Lab was what would conclude this week.
We did this in rounds of sharing, both individually with each other and in a “fish-bowl” circle where only the 4 people in the middle could speak, and had to be tabbed out to be replaced by one in the outside circle.
This wrapped up the week nicely and set the tone and table for the community lunch that was soon to happen.
There are two main things to conclude from the week in Berlin:
- The possibilities in Berlin are endless and it is in your face all the time. The energy and pace, creativity, artistry, entrepreneurial opportunities are standing there with arms wide open and say “come, get going – you can do it too!”
- The inspiration from the different projects we experienced didn’t feel attached to having a concrete plan to establish itself. A WOW-plan was not THE WAY to go necessarily – but a big heart a lot of energy and action to make something happen seemed to be what at the end of the day pulled an idea into fruition.
Berlin greeted us with its presence and we all used our time in different ways, together and a part…
… Some partied, some got drunk, some felt love, some where in love and some loved and perhaps that is the conclusion to a place that never stands still?
And while a high paced city doesn’t mean love per say, the pace might be a potential state of making anything happen from and that is maybe why Berlin is named both “the city that never sleeps”, but also the place to find Milk and Honey and can be produced from your own cows and with your own bees if you are up for the challenge!