Trade Sep-Oct Interactive - page 25

S P O T L I G H T S
German American Trade Sep/Oct 2013
25
GAT:
Is there a trend that startups
from around the world are establish-
ing themselves here in the U.S.
for the talent pool? Are there
other reasons?
Bernhard Mehl (BM):
For us
Germans, New York City is great
since we can complement our
technical skills with the best sales
and design talent for which this city
is famous. There are excellent
universities like NYU and Columbia
which we have close ties to: The
NYU Incubator in Brooklyn helps us
to get connected to the local startup
scene and they introduce us to
investors as well as talent. Since we
won a startup competition from
Columbia, we have close ties to
them, too. We just had a great MBA
intern from their business school
who had previously worked in
consulting for three years. Usually,
you are not able to recruit that kind
of talent in Germany – not because
they are not as good, but because the
public perception of working in
startups in the U.S. is just very well
respected – unlike in Germany, where
people wonder why you wouldn't
choose a large car manufacturer over
a small startup as your employer.
GAT:
There are quite a few German
startups, any explanations why?
BM:
The German-speaking commu-
nity is well connected in New York.
German investors and entrepreneurs
are usually thrilled to help us with
introductions since they want to see
these young Germans who come out
to New York to start their business
succeed – just like they did in their
earlier years. This makes the city an
incredible resource of open-minded
mentors and supporters.
GAT:
Why New York and not
Silicon Valley for KISI?
BM:
First of all, we have an office in
Munich as well as in New York. The
time difference is 6 hours, thus we
can still communicate during regular
office hours. This wouldn´t be
possible in Silicon Valley. Collabora-
tion among international teams just
works better for us from New York.
Second, New York is the ideal
market for business and consumer
startups because there is a high
density of residents who are high
earners and, most importantly, who
are open to try new products. But
since New York also has one of the
most challenging infrastructures
consisting of old buildings, strict
regulations and high competition,
the city is the ideal ground to
test and prove our product: If it
works here, it works anywhere.
GAT:
What helped you in the
beginning and where lie the unique
selling points when it comes to
offering your product?
BM:
When it comes to meeting
potential suppliers, manufacturers or
distributors, New York is the place
where any one of them is either
headquartered in or has an office, or
sends at least one sales person to
frequently. Since everyone comes to
New York at a certain point, we can
keep our travel expenses low.
Last but not least, we are excited
about the strong support we get
from the city itself. In Germany, the
cities usually don´t even have
dedicated staff we could talk to.
In New York, the New York Eco-
nomic Development Corporation,
which is a non-profit local develop-
ment corporation that promotes
economic growth across New York
City, really helps local businesses to
start out here. To have the support
from a city like New York helps us
tremendously.
n
GACC Interview with KISI Co-founder, Bernhard
Mehl on the Startup Environment in the U.S.
Bernhard Mehl is the co-founder
of KISI, a New York- / Munich-based
smart access startup. In both
locations the team has developed
a virtual access network called
KISI that makes all locked objects
in the city digitally accessible by
smartphone. The startup is currently
successfully running pilots in
apartments, offices and buildings
located in NYC and Munich.
By Ning Wang, GACC
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