On a recent Tuesday evening in Berlin, Mohamed Jimale stood onstage in a cavernous blue-lit event space before a crowd of hundreds. Projected on a screen behind him was the headshot of a mellow-looking goat.
“You become the owner of the goats’ babies,” Jimale explained during his pitch for Ari.Farm, his livestock-investment startup based in Stockholm. The crowd murmured approval. “We’re planning to expand to camels,” he added.
Jimale was among a spate of founders who participated in a start-up-idea marathon, billed as “Pitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”—after the Kendrick Lamar song—as part of the housewarming festivities for Berlin’s newest start-up campus. The evening gave entrepreneurs and investors, among others, a peek at the 75,000-square-foot workspace, dubbed Silicon Allee in a nod to California’s tech mecca. What had begun in 2011 as a monthly meet up for tech entrepreneurs at a local coffee shop had grown until its organizers set out to procure a dedicated physical headquarters in the center of the city.
The refurbished office building is among the latest in a wave of sleek structures for entrepreneurs to pop up in Europe in recent years, as cities including Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, and Amsterdam race to construct brick-and-mortar start-up campuses in the hope of luring talent and incubating the next unicorn. In a growing number of capitals, large U.S. firms are scrambling to call “dibs,” pouring significant resources into establishing a European-campus presence. These tech giants are betting that wrapping themselves in promising local start-ups will smooth the way for broad global expansion efforts, even as foreign regulators try to rein them in.