The Third Degree: Philipp Sahr of Dein Biogarten

By Claire Adamson |

In this week’s Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we talk to Berlin’s best and brightest CEOs, we spoke to Philipp Sahr of Dein Biogarten about knocking bricks off the Berlin Wall and the overwhelming abundance of cafes in Prenzlauer Berg. 

SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t the CEO of a startup, what would you be doing?

PHILIPP SAHR: I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t do anything that has to do with a really corporate company. I worked for a corporate company – a big one – for over five years and I promised myself not to do that again. No more ties: that’s my mission. I just love to build stuff. I’ve done some other things, something related to travel and a little t-shirt shop, and now we have a little music group where we find good music. So I can’t really say what I would do exactly. Just building something. That would be it probably.

SA: How would you describe Berlin and what do you like about it?

PS: For me one word that relates directly to the city is openness. You can do what you want, you can be who you are and that’s what everyone likes about it. There’s a real difference to cities where I’ve lived before like Hamburg or Paris or Oslo where everything is quite settled – the town, the buildings, the infrastructure, the people. Everything is settled. This is different here and that’s what I love about it. And I would say it’s a city of creators. Almost everyone is building something, whether it’s a little design thing, some furniture, or a startup, an iced coffee shop or café. I really like that.

SA: East or West Berlin?

PS: The first time I was in Berlin it was with my family in 1990 right after the Wall fell down. We lived exactly next to the Wall while it was still standing, and as children we were knocking bricks off it. Back then I never thought about East or West; for me it was just grey or colour because the buildings in the Eastern part of Berlin hadn’t much colour on them. And the smell was different because they were heating with coal. But today, over 20 years later, I can’t really recognise the difference anymore and often I catch myself thinking ‘is this East or West right now?’ I don’t really differentiate between East and West, for me it’s just this quarter, or that quarter.

SA: When you leave Berlin, where do you like to go?

PS: Now that I am back in Germany, I often visit my parent’s place which is in the countryside in the south. It’s really relaxing. There’s no noise, no sounds, and you don’t really need the Web there. I like that. Other times I visit friends in Hamburg or other cities. I love to travel, I’ve been to South America several times and just half a year ago I went to Cuba. I’m always eager to see new countries – next is probably going to be India.

SA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

PS: I love to read books. Right now it’s a lot of books about creating startups and business. I’m currently reading ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries, and ‘Made to Stick’ and several others – I always read five books at the same time! On the other hand I really love music, I love to listen to music all the time. Because I don’t really have time to search for new music I founded a simple Facebook group, We Breathe Music, and now we have nearly 700 members and people post new songs all the time. If I see a song has more than a couple of likes I listen to it. It’s my own private filter now. I also really enjoy sports – basketball, tennis, running.

SA: What’s your favourite cafe, bar and restaurant in Berlin?

PS: I would say my favourite bar right now – and this could change any day – is Z Bar on Bergstrasse, close to Torstrasse. Most of the time I eat around Rosenthaler Platz. I like to go to Fleischerei – they have great burgers there. I don’t go much to cafes. Of course we sit above Sankt Oberholz, and I started working there, like the total general stereotype, and then moved up to the co-working space. I sometimes hang out there with friends; it’s easy to reach. I’m kind of overwhelmed by the choice of places – I just moved from Mitte to Prenzlauer Berg and I have to really figure out the cafes there. There’s already plenty I would like to go to.

SA: If you could employ anyone in the world, who would you employ?

PS: This is probably one of the answers that many startup founders would bring up, but I would like to hire Richard Branson for his energy.

SA: What do you think the Internet will look like in ten years?

PS: I think the idea will be that we won’t call it Internet anymore; we won’t really think of the Internet thing. It will be more about connection – how am I connected right now and how is that thing in front of me connected, whether it’s a device or even clothes or furniture. Everything is going to be connected and talking to each other, it’s amazing. That’s what I imagine: it’s going to be everywhere in every detail of our lives. It’s going to be difficult for different generations probably, but for those up to 14, and everyone who’s coming up next it’s going to be connections, everywhere connected.