The Third Degree: Edial Dekker of Gidsy

By Claire Adamson |

This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we pick the brains of Berlin’s best and brightest CEOs, we talked to Edial Dekker of Gidsy about growing cucumbers and being unhappy in a good way.

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

EDIAL DEKKER: I think I would have either a surf camp or I’d probably be travelling.

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

ED: I think Berlin is a place for big ideas; it’s a very vibrant city. It’s also attractive to the counter culture of people in Germany but also outside of Germany: it’s always been very international. People who move here are really excited to change things, they’re a little bit unhappy but in a good way. And that attracts me too. It’s a great place for startups because the city has always been in a state of change. And startups are also about change; change of systems or a change of structure, alternative businesses that are faster, more agile, more transparent. I think that fits Berlin very well.

SA: East or West Berlin?

ED: Sometimes I don’t even know what’s East or West; it’s really bad. I live in West Berlin, but I don’t think it’s that different any more. I think for a lot of Berliners it’s a big deal but for everyone else it’s not really important.

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

ED: I might go on a holiday very soon. I’ve been to many places – my parents are big travelers. They have a van and we travel around a lot, so we’ve seen many different parts of the world. We had a van that we’d had for four years but last year it broke down, so we’ve also been contemplating buying a new van. I like these small trips that you just do. It’s exciting.

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

ED: I try to have a very nice balance between sitting behind a computer and doing other stuff. I have a garden in Templehofer Park and that’s really fun – I had my first cucumbers the day before yesterday. I’m growing strawberries and sunflowers and red beets. It’s like a small community: Turkish people, Vietnamese people, students, some hipsters. You just come together and everyone has their own small garden. It really helps me to relax, you really don’t think about anything but the garden stuff.

I go to a lot of Gidsy activities which is really fun because you get to know a lot of people and you get really great feedback. I think if you’re in the startup scene anywhere you can’t sit around with a lot of startup people. On the one hand it’s great because you can share a lot of experiences, but on the other hand your world gets a little bit smaller. So that’s what’s great about Gidsy, you go to places and you meet people that you would otherwise never meet. That’s the biggest thing I get out of Gidsy actually. To broaden my world, my personal world.

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

ED: There’s this place that’s not really a bar, it’s called 3 Schwestern. It’s nice, it has a garden and you can go there on the weekends and they play live music. It’s really beautiful – it’s an old hospital with an open air cinema. These guys are rock’n’roll guys but it’s super nice food and really friendly. There’s a place I go to pretty often called Circus Lemke in Neukölln. It’s very much like a dive bar, but it’s pretty good. A lot of local German people go there, there’s not so many hipsters. The people behind the bar are always really funny – when you go there on the weekend and you’ve been sitting there all night and everyone’s drinking and all the waiters are completely wasted and they forget what you ordered. It’s always chaos. But it’s a fun place, it’s very Berlin. There’s a restaurant called Little Otik that I like, it’s based here in Kreuzberg and it’s really fun. It’s by two guys who used to have a pop up restaurant and then they started this restaurant one and a half years ago. The food is amazing and it has a very nice atmosphere with big wooden tables. There’s a lot of really cool people there too, normally.

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

ED: I look up to a lot of entrepreneurs, but you don’t want them to work for you, that wouldn’t work.  There’s always super talented people that you are trying to poach. I think there’s one position we have open, and I know who I want to be the person but it’s kind of far fetched. I think that’s a challenge, you’re always trying to build a super great team. As a founder you’re spending much of your time on recruiting or trying to find people who fit your profile. But all the good people are not looking for jobs – that’s the thing about any position that you are trying to fill in. There’s plenty of people who apply for the jobs but if you’re good you never have to apply properly. It takes a long time – we spend six or seven months trying to get one person and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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

ED: The last ten years has proven that that’s impossible to say! I do think that there are some big challenges in the upcoming ten years, like copyright, legislation, rules and government interference, and bigger companies that are trying to lobby for certain things. I think that there is a lot of pressure on things that we now think of as normal like freedom. If you see how things are going and how big corporations or even government see the Internet – there’s a lot of good stuff going on, but there’s also a lot of things we really should be worried about. I am also kind of worried about bigger corporations like Facebook and Google. They are incredibly scary: they have so much information.

On the other hand there are some really good trends: I think the Internet’s becoming more real. It’s always been a part of people’s daily lives but I think the boundary between online and offline is disappearing, and pretty fast, and I think that’s great. It gives a lot of access to knowledge, to people, to data or to anything really. Everyone has online identities that really mean something to them, that are deeply integrated with their personal lives. That’s a really strong thing, it enables relationships and connections that would not otherwise be possible.