Tech City isn't the only place in Europe for startups; Berlin has found itself at the centre of Europe's tech boom, firmly establishing itself as a go-to destination for ambitious youngsters across the globe.
No better is this demonstrated than by British-founded taxi software firm T Dispatch. The company, whose eponymous software was started as a side project in 2010, quickly found itself attracted to Berlin after pitching at the Seedcamp investor programme. With the owner of a Berlin-based startup incubator on board, the team had little choice but to move to the German capital.
The firm – which provides dispatch software piggy-backing on Google's Maps API – claims 1,500 fleet customers worldwide and wants to expand further. Bryony Cooper, T Dispatch's chief executive, told V3 that while London and Berlin certainly share plenty of characteristics in their respective startup scenes, Berlin has the edge when it comes to the age-old skills deficit.
"Since moving here we've found it's a thriving startup scene," she said, adding that the recruitment of technical staff is easier in Berlin than it is in Tech City.
"In London if you're going to recruit a software developer they'll be more inclined to go for the bigger salaries at Google or at Facebook. In Berlin, the startup scene is so thriving, people move here with the intention to come and build a new startup and grow with the company."
T Dispatch's team consists of staff hailing from eight different countries on three continents, including Brazil, the US and the Ukraine, further highlighting the melting pot Berlin has become.
The concept behind T Dispatch is simple: creating a simple-to-use taxi dispatch system, which is web-based and requires no setup fee. "Many companies couldn't afford dispatch in the past, and a lot of them are using pen, paper and radio, which doesn't guarantee the best quality of service," said Cooper.
She touts it as bringing Cabbie and Hailo (London-based taxi app startups) to the fleet, allowing any company to provide apps to customers as well as for back-end dispatch management.
Another key benefit – which T Dispatch will eventually bring to its end users – is the vast amounts of data which can be collected by digitising the dispatch system. "The main key is this thing we call dead mileage, which is where cars remain empty," Cooper explained. "This is the killer for fleets because obviously they're wasting a lot of petrol, and time is money."
Big data is money, too. Finding patterns in historical data is very valuable for businesses, which is something T Dispatch is looking to utilise. "The city centre being busier on a Friday night is a very obvious one. But combining historical data with weather information and live travel information, you can make sure you dispatched enough drivers to the right location."
As a smaller company, T Dispatch has managed to align many of its everyday operations around a single supplier: Google. Using its Apps products combined with the Maps API, Cooper admits her firm is very much ingrained in the ecosystem.
As the rest of the world begins to become more connected, the company is now looking at a South American expansion, bringing their services to nations that are becoming increasingly targeted by tech firms looking to be part of their internet revolution.
Cooper's firm is also looking at opening up a proper presence in London – mostly for sales – as T Dispatch expands.
It's a competitive area, but with the support of the Berlin tech community in their backyard, T Dispatch is very much on target to go global.
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