The Third Degree: Henrik Berggren of Readmill

By Toni Ellis |

After a week’s hiatus for Startup Camp Berlin, we’re back with Silicon Allee’s regular feature The Third Degree, where we get up close and personal with Berlin’s brightest CEOs. This week, we talked scuba diving and radio-controlled planes with Henrik Berggren of Readmill.

SILICON ALLEE: What would you be doing if you weren’t a CEO?

HENRIK BERGGREN: My dream job is to be a chef. So I’m jealous of Edial [Dekker] from Gidsy, who was one!

SA: How would you describe Berlin?

HB: Its a very dynamic city; it’s easy to find a lot of different things to do here, and I think that’s why a lot of people like it. Berlin is not a city that can be easily defined – People try, but they always fail in capturing the whole city. It’s been called the Cultural Bed of Europe, the Capital of Techno, or the Silicon Valley of Europe, and all of these things are true – but there are so many more layers of ‘interesting-ness’ in this city, you have to be here a long time to explore it all.

SA: When you leave Berlin where do you go?

HB: Theres only really two places I go – Sweden and the US. I just got back from Austin, Texas [where Readmill were showcasing at SXSW] – it’s a fun place, very crazy!  At Christmas time, I also visited Thailand, just outside of Bangkok, which is where I found my love of scuba diving.

SA: East or West Berlin?

HB: I prefer East Berlin. I’m getting more and more interested in the West, but I haven’t spent a lot of time there. I live in the East, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. I like it mainly because it’s where I spend most of my time. It has a bit more of the ‘rough’ feeling, which was one of the reasons why I fell in love with Berlin from the beginning. It’s also more ‘scruffy’ in a way, and thats something that Stockholm doesn’t really have – so moving here it’s something that you really appreciate. But I’m getting more and more intrigued by the West. Maybe its because I’ve been here for two years, and I’m at a point where I’m ready to lift my eyes up and widen my experience of Berlin as a two-split city.

SA: How do you spend time away from work?

HB: Every day I always make sure to spend a few hours away from work. Now that it’s spring, I spend a lot of time on my bike. Otherwise, I really enjoy long-distance running – I think it’s something that clears the head of details. It’s very powerful. I also have a new-found hobby of scuba diving, which I hope to do a lot more. It’s great because you can’t have any distracting technology underwater, and you have to have completely focus on the task at hand, otherwise it can be very dangerous. I find it very exciting and unusual, and also very different to the world that we live in – it opens up your perspective on things. Sounds a bit cliche now that I say it!

SA: Favourite hangouts in Berlin?

HB: When the weather is nice, and I have a few hours to spare, I go down to Templehof. My co-founder David [Kjelkerud] has a radio-controlled airplane which we fly, and you can just chill out there, eat ice cream, and call up and invite all your friends because the space is so big that everyone can come. As I’m not very young anymore, I also actually love hanging out in Prenzlauer Berg – a lot of people call it Pregnantville though!

SA: Whats your favourite cafe in Berlin?

HB: Fabisch, but I only like it because they have really good breakfasts. I’m not a fan of bread, and since German breakfasts are all about cheese and bread, it’s hard to find a really good cafe that serves yougurt and fruit, and they do it really well. Often it’s also very quiet – if you want peace and quiet in the morning while your checking your emails, but not be in the office, it’s a good place.

SA: And your favourite restaurant?

HB: Undoubtedly, its the Tausen Cantina. They have a Japanese and Ibero-American fusion kitchen, which is amazing! Every time I’m there, I always wish I could be there all the time. It’s the best, the flavours are very distinct, and I love the aesthetics of Japanese food, with the small portions and tapas-style that Tausen do.

SA: What about a bar?

HB: Kingsize. It’s a bit like Oddessa, but it’s smaller, and when its good its really, really good. Cookies’ new bar is also quite good; it’s called Drayton and it only opened last week.

SA: What do you think the internet will look like in 10 years time?

HB: A mind-boggling question! Ten years is a long time, but what we’ve seen happening already is that we’re connecting every device that we have around us. I think that some of the proof of that now is with Nike’s sports wear, that can connect you with data. Those kind of things, small networked devices that communicate with each other over standardised network protocols, that’s going to be very, very big.