As you might have heard a lot recently, Leipzig has been found to be a very attractive and livable city in several rankings over the past years.
No wonder the city has attracted a lot of creative minds to stay and join the fascination. Leipzig’s startup scene has grown to a respectable size given the fact that Leipzig is only the 8th biggest city in Germany. With a growing startup scene fueled by lots of meetups, events and co-working spaces, and specialties in the fields of Smart Infrastructure (digital health, energy and smart city) as well as and Social Startups Leipzig has a lot of attractive startup employers to offer.
WHAT MAKES A STARTUP JOB ATTRACTIVE
There are a number of reasons why one may be attracted to the startup world. Especially if you are a member of Generation Y of Z, studies have shown that freedom, change and the ability to choose projects are some of the top reasons why these generations rather turn to entrepreneurship rather than big companies.
Whatever your personal reasons may be, these are some of the most common reasons we hear people want to work in, or enjoy working, the startup world:
- It’s flexible and fluid. Most startups embrace this ideology of ”If it’s a good idea let’s run with it. If it works, great, if it doesn’t let’s learn from our mistakes. This fires up a lot of people who are looking to break away from the corporate approval structure. Since I’ve shifted over the tech world, this has been my number one asset for wanting to continue working in this field. To this date, it still drives me every so slightly crazy when I may be working with in a consultant capacity with a company who still IS in the old corporate mindset, and it takes 2 kilograms of paperwork, five separate conversations over Skype, in-person, and then on FaceTime, and over six months to finally come to a decision to change the color of the button on the homepage from blue to dark blue. I mean come on now, seriously? Some companies need to get over the archaic governance policies they’ve been following, and simply adapt a more fluid structure. Startup style!
- It’s generally more fun. Startups foster a fun work place. If you tour the offices of Google, you won’t find death by fluorescent lighting bathing a never ending sea of office cubicles, instead, you’ll see daycares for children, ping pong tables, foosball tables, stocked kitchens, and round the clock cafes and cafeterias on site. The cause for this? Well, Google believes that employees actually want to be at work because they believe they’re serving a great cause, they’ll work more effectively. And it’s true, some of the brightest and best thought out ideas that have ever stemmed from companies have been developed while playing a game of ping pong, or a video game break. Startups and tech companies have learned that the mental pause can prevent feelings of burn out, and keep creativity going. You’ll see this emulated in a lot of startups across the world, beautifully designed, inspiring, and fun office environments.
You’ll learn more. When you take a startup job in Leipzig, or anywhere in the world for that matter, it is very likely you’re going to only be performing your duties in the role you were hired for. Meaning, if you’re hired as a Ruby developer, you’ll probably also learn a little bit about business planning, financing, and marketing as well. This is especially true for earlier-stage startups, the newer you are, the more hats you can expect to wear. Oddly enough, a lot of people tend to see this as a benefit. I mean, where else can you work for a company for 3-5 years, and get intensive experience in 4 different C-level areas? The payoff for this type of real world experience is something that a book simply cannot teach you. You’re going to get beat up, thrown into a corner, and want to cry, but at the end of the day, you know what they say, ”What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And this will hold ever so true with your career experience.
When you realize how many perks working in a startup has to offer you
WHAT COVID HAS CHANGED
Next the perks of working in a startup, the probably most painful topic of the past year has to be addressed here. Yes, we are talking about the global pandemic. As a lot of companies in general, startups also have faced throwbacks, meaning of course that hires had to be stopped, at least for several months. But it is really reassuring to see that many startups are getting back on their feet and are hiring again. This is for sure also partly rooted in the flexibility of startups: In contrast to big companies, startups have faster decision making and can therefore re-start growing their team once the economy starts recovering. In regard to the circumstances, most startups could master the changes that covid brought, relatively easily. Startups are already used to digital communication tools which made the shift to working from home and staying in touch not too hard.
HOW TO START YOUR JOURNEY INTO THE STARTUP WORLD
BUILD A NETWORK
Ah the classic adage, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Well in the modern startup world, it actually is rather important what you know, it still helps to make some contacts in the city. Naturally, this isn’t something you want to go into blindly, rather you want to find the people who have connections to the startup world in Leipzig as a whole. Below are some resources for where you should look, and who you should talk to.
- Basislager Coworking Space is exactly what it sounds like, a coworking space based right in the heart of Leipzig. They house a good amount of startups, business entrepreneurs, and freelancers in Leipzig. Furthermore, they also have a bunch of events throughout the year in Leipzig that you can attend to expand your network. I’d recommend checking out their events calendar and seeing what is coming up and also signing up to their weekly newsletter. Some of their most well known events are their FuckUp Nights, where you can learn about someone else’s mistakes so that you hopefully you can avoid making them yourself, and they also partake in the Leipzig Startup Safary which brings investors, VC’s, jobseekers, corporations, entrepreneurs, press, and service providers together for a day-long event that takes place throughout the city of Leipzig. Overall, a very strong place to make some connections if a job in Leipzig is your goal.
- The SpinLab Environment. SpinLab is a startup accelerator and co-working space that also hosts events that are job- and non-job-related. Look out for our events and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up to date on the SpinLab happenings. Next to the events, we have a huge network of startups, not only those that participated in the accelerator program. You can contact us directly so we can connect you to the most interesting startups and happenings.
- Meetup.com ist an excellent platform to connect with people based on your interests. You will find many entrepreneurship-related events as well as meetups on specific topics such as software development, marketing, sales or female entrepreneurship. Also check out the Smart Infrastructure Meetup created by SpinLab.
“It's not what you know, it's who you know.”
START THE JOB HUNT
Now that you know how to enter the startup scene, you should take a look around the resources where you can find startup jobs in Leipzig and surroundings.
- New job plattform Startup Mitteldeutschland Jobs. Together with Startup Mitteldeutschland, an online magazine for startups in the region, SpinLab has created this Job Board specifically for startup jobs. If you can’t find your dream job ad, there is also a talent pool where you can create a profile. The startups will be able to see your profile and contact you. If you wish to be notified when a new job is posted, you can set an email alert to not miss your desired job.
- Facebook groups. Leipzig has its own facebook group “Leipzig Startup Jobs” where new startup jobs are being posted regularly which makes it worthwhile to follow this group.
- Job fairs or recruiting events. Throughout the year, several job fairs and recruiting events can be found. To not miss out on them, check the SpinLab and Basislager events page where we have for example the job fair of the Startup Safari. Also check out the universities’ offers for job seekers.
- Bonus: Job hunt for English speakers. A great resource for internationals is The Leipzig Glocal. They are a great community that offers regular blog posts, tips on how to navigate through the city and most importantly: a matching system for job seekers as well as regular recruiting events. In case you need help with visa stuff, check out Germany Visa.
Have desired skills that startups in Germany need
If you want a startup job, there’s a chance you may be graduating from university soon and will be searching for your first real job, or you’re in the market for a career change, either way you’ll want to make sure you’re beefed up on skills that are consistently in demand in the startup world. Startups in Leipzig are generally in need of help with:
- Marketing Mindsets. Just as crucial as coding, founders typically need someone to get their product in front of their audience smartly. Emphasis on smartly. If you recall from another article, why startups struggle with online marketing, you’ll remember that founders have a bad habit of wanting to throw lots of money at the problem early on in the game. A good marketer will develop a scalable marketing plan for you, that grows with the product and makes use of your budget as best as possible. Best to implement this sooner than later.
- Finance and Business Gurus. It goes without saying that money management is a skill on its own. This can get especially dangerous if you’re a new startup not used to things like business taxation, regional financial laws and grants, and other financial bureaucratic objects of concern. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing in this realm, this way you’ll make sure you’re making the most of the money you’ve got, and you’re not missing out on any money you could be getting. Something as simple as which city to officially register your business in, could be an overlooked and costing mistake.
Keep your programming skills fresh to advance in the startup world
Be open minded and flexible
A startup job in Leipzig can be a truly rewarding experience, but as already mentioned in this article, Leipzig is still a growing and thriving scene in the startup world. You cannot expect to show up in this city with an exact idea of what you want to do for a startup, and then land exactly that job.
If you do, great, if not, then don’t sweat it. As we’ve seen in other startup hubs such as Silicon Valley, London, Boston, Berlin, and Hong Kong, these worlds grow fast and what you’re doing today very well may not be how you’re operating in 6 months, just keep that in mind.
You may be an experienced corporate financial analyst with 15 years of experience in Europe’s biggest firms suddenly thrown into a mix full of young graduate school graduates building their idea for the first time, but that experience counts despite the cultural shift.
Same goes the other way around, sometimes it takes new eyes to the industry to break some old habits and get you guys to the next level. Just remember, joining this world is a lifestyle, and a passionate one at that, so keep your eyes and mind open, dive in, and get ready for the ride of your life.
Bonus things to consider
There’s already a lot of great information out there regarding these topics, so I am not going to attempt to reinvent the wheel here, but know that if you’re coming from a non-EU country trying to relocate to Germany you’ll have to deal with visa issues.
Simply doing a search for “working visa in Germany” should bring you a slew of good articles written by various people who have made the switch themselves. A good reference I also like to refer people to regarding visa issues is make-it-in-germany.com, as they’re officially sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, as well as the Federal Agency of Work in Germany.
You can be sure the information here will be valid and up to date as it comes from official sites. Sometimes the information you find on a blogger’s article, while good, can also be outdated.