Unexpectedly Funky: SAP Berlin Has Discovered Meetups

Startups, big companies, academia, politics, creative minds: An ecosystem like Berlin’s should be taken advantage of. For two years, SAP has hosted meetups and created a meetup series of its own called D-CLICK, where a mixed audience of founders, scientists, and SAP employees gets together three times a month to network and talk about trends in technology.

In a city of 3.5 million inhabitants, there’s bound to be people who share the same goals and interests as you — but first you have to find them. That might be why meetups have become so popular to the tech community in Germany’s capital, Berlin. On Meetup.com, users can join communities and arrange to meet in the real world; interests range from sports to business trends to software programming hacks. Anyone can create a meetup and nearly all topics are featured. All you need is a location and someone to take things in hand.

This is where SAP comes in.

“The idea was to interact more with the Berlin ecosystem,” says Laura Pino from Ecosystem Engagement, Strategy and Operations, SAP Berlin. “Approaching the meetup scene was the obvious thing to do since many topics are featured there that matter to us at SAP as well: software development, Internet of Things, Big Data, machine learning, and blockchain, but also non-tech topics like sustainability and marketing.”

Meetups at SAP are explicitly not to be leveraged to advertise SAP or pitch products to the participants. As Laura explains: “It’s about helping the audience that comes to our meetups, to share knowledge, to support the local community, and to build networks. Apart from that, we position speakers from SAP at meetups to bring interesting topics that are important to SAP into the ecosystem.”

“We enjoy working with corporates,” says Leo Marose, initiator of the Growth Hacking Berlin meetup and CEO of data analytics startup StackFuel. “We are actively looking for hosts, but often also are approached by them. I became aware of SAP as a meetup host when I was visiting the SAP Data Space and SAP IoT Startup Accelerator.”

The Growth Hacking Berlin meetup is held every other month in changing locations. Within the Berlin meetup scene it has become something of a household name. Even on a beautiful spring evening in May, about 50 participants found their way to the SAP location at Rosenthaler Straße. “They even stay longer and ask questions,” Leo says. He has lived in Berlin for six years and has already founded his second startup.

“That’s how I’ve come to know lots of founders,” he says. “Networking is my personal motivation to organize Growth Hacking Berlin and to participate in other meetups. I’ve met all the speakers I invited for tonight before in person.” Broadening one’s own professional network and watching out for career opportunities is an important motivation for many meetup enthusiasts. “Usually, the audience who shows up at our meetups is a mix of founders, creatives, students, managers, and developers who want to engage with their peers.

Katie Richards, who works in employer branding at Zalando, is responsible for logistics at Growth Hacking Berlin: “I had organized meetups in Shanghai already. After my move to Berlin, I’ve been using meetups to get to know like-minded people and establish my own brand. Since I started working with Leo on Growth Hacking Berlin, we’ve been to many companies — the Boston Consulting Group, WeWork, HelloFresh, Babbel, reBuy, and SAP, which turned out unexpectedly funky.”

For Marta Fogel, who is soon to join meditation startup SevenMind, the exchange of knowledge is a priority. She regularly joins meetups in Berlin: “I work in marketing, so I consider it important to know about current trends. Berlin is just the city to learn from each other — so many inspiring minds and stories in one place.”

SAP hosts meetups in a lot of other cities as well, but Berlin is something of a forerunner in Germany. Since 2016, more than 50 meetups with over 4,000 participants have taken place at SAP Berlin. Furthermore, SAP is organizing its own meetups in Berlin such as  the D-CLICK series, which began in March 2018. Aside from founders and corporates, target groups are also small and midsize enterprises, politics, and academia.

According to Laura, “It’s not about placing SAP on the market, but about creating value together with the Berlin ecosystem, to share knowledge with the stakeholders and to learn from each other.”