The Third Degree: Travis Todd of Buddy Labs

By Lynsey Anderson |

In the first of a new series called The Third Degree, where we get up close and personal with Berlin’s biggest CEOs, Silicon Allee talked burgers, burritos and bars with Travis Todd of Buddy Labs (and of this parish).

SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t a CEO what would you be doing?

TRAVIS TODD: It’s hard to say because I don’t really see myself as a CEO; I still see myself as a kind of entrepreneur hacker – somebody who is just trying to build something awesome. So I don’t know. I think I would enjoy writing. I enjoy travelling so I’d like to be a travel writer. I minored in English… kind of, almost… I didn’t quite get enough credits but that’s neither here nor there. I enjoyed it, so I think I would be doing that. Or I’d be a philosopher. If I could be anything and it didn’t have to actually pay well, then I’d be a philosopher.

SA: East or West Berlin?

TT: East. I don’t have a big preference but my girlfriend’s from East Berlin so I should probably say East anyway, although it does just seems to be where everything is happening. I don’t go out in the West that much; I mean, Kreuzberg is West Berlin but it doesn’t feel like West Berlin so I think it’s more of an attitude rather than geographic location.

SA: Tell us what you think the Internet will look like in ten years’ time.

TT: It won’t look anything like it does right now. Everything is going to be mobile in a way that we don’t even understand at the moment. The phrase I heard most recently that made a lot of sense to me is that everyone will have a ‘data halo’, which basically means that you carry your own personal data with you and wherever you go it interacts with whatever is around to provide you with the best experience. The Internet is going to be everywhere but you won’t really notice it, it’s just going to work for you.

SA: What’s your favourite place to hang out in Berlin?

TT: Typically in my free time I play sports, so if I’m not working in the summer, then I go wake boarding. And I normally hang out in my office a lot and in other startup offices. I like going to the EyeEm office when they’re having a get together. It’s cool; they have a DJ booth in the middle of their office. That’s always fun.

I do get invited to Soho House a lot as well. The food’s good and there are a lot of influential people there. It’s a bit exclusive though and I’m not a member but I have enough friends that are so I can always get in on one of their cards.

In the summer I go to football matches when the weather is nice. And all the parks are nice – I like to walk around Mauer Park on a Sunday, just to see what’s going on. I don’t have a set place to hang out, but I like Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte and normally I just grab a beer and walk around.

SA: What’s your favourite cafe?

TT: For somebody who used to work in Starbucks back in the day, I’m a bit of a coffee snob. But the coffee at The Barn is awesome and the staff are really friendly and the food is good – it’s all homemade, organic stuff. The only problem is that it’s tiny so when it gets busy it’s hard to find a seat.

SA: And what’s your favourite restaurant?

TT: Well, I’m American so I tend towards American food – burgers and Mexican food. And when you are talking burgers there’s really no other restaurant to talk about other than The Bird. It’s a man restaurant. It’s run by two guys from New York who just really like meat… So if you are a fan of steaks and burgers then it’s good.

I’m also a huge fan of Mexican food. I’ve been in Berlin for five years and for the first three years there were no Mexicans in Germany. There was really shitty Mexican but nothing really authentic. But then this place called Maria Bonita opened up; it’s run by a guy from Texas, a Mexican guy. It’s this tiny little place that does Mexican street food like tacos and burritos and it’s amazing.

SA: What’s your favourite bar?

TT: I’m not really a clubbing or high end cocktail kind of guy. I’m more into a good beer and hanging out with some friends. I usually end up at Belushi’s watching sports or FC Magnet Bar. When it does come to cocktails, I drink really simple cocktails – like Moscow Mules and Black Russians; stuff that’s pretty simple. I do like a good Margarita, which is very hard to find in Germany.

One bar I was impressed with is Goldfisch Bar in Friedrichshain. I took a couple of people there recently and the bartender filled up an entire tumbler glass of black Russian for me. My kind of bartender!