Berlin Startup Stalwart Edial Dekker Leaves for San Francisco: Here’s Why

By David Knight |

This is a guy many of you will know, or at least recognise – his is a familiar face to those who have been in and around the tech scene in Berlin over the past few years. Starting in 2010, Edial Dekker built up Gidsy with two other founders (his brother Floris and Philipp Wassibauer) in a loft office next to the bustling Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn interchange, where they had previously run a creative agency.

The first couple of years were good: The company generated a lot of buzz, attracting $1.2 million in seed money from investors including Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher.

But then the Berlin growth doldrums hit and the company was sold to rival travel activity booking platform GetYourGuide last year.

And now comes the news that Edial, who is originally from Amsterdam, has joined fast-growing ticketing company Eventbrite and is off to San Francisco, by way of London. So why is he leaving? What lessons is he taking with him? Does he still think Berlin’s scene can continue to grow and prosper? He sat down with Silicon Allee to find out.

SILICON ALLEE: So what’s happening then?

EDIAL DEKKER: I’ll be joining the San Francisco office, a position in the product team. It’s very cool and I’m very excited – Eventbrite has sold 160 million tickets in total, it’s super successful with 300 people, and it’s very close to the Gidsy idea. We’ve known the company for a very long time – when we had just started Gidsy, we immediately were in contact. So I’m very stoked about this position; very excited to be leaning new things in San Francisco. It’s a better thing for me.

SA: Why?

ED: When we started Gidsy, when we joined GetYourGuide, we always said the same thing – we want to have a big impact. And now Eventbrite, for me, is kind of the ultimate thing. They are already big, but there are also still so many opportunities. And for me that is the most exciting thing, to be able to have a really, really big impact, and this new position allows that. But of course I feel sad about leaving Berlin. It’s a really great scene and there are so many things happening.

SA: So you are moving to be able to have more of an impact than you would in Berlin?

ED: Yeah, definitely. It’s a much bigger company but also, I am able to learn much more personally. GetYourGuide is awesome, it’s a super fast growing company, a really great team, and they will be all right without me.

SA: Did you think at all about starting another company?

ED: Yeah I did. Lots of times I thought about it.

SA: So why did you not?

ED: I think there are a lot of things I can still learn, and the position that EB offered me is just a really great one so it would be kind of stupid not to do it. But of course I was always playing with the idea of doing another company. I am definitely an entrepreneur by heart. I could not imagine me doing something else. But this position at Eventbrite allows me to do that; it allows me to be doing the things I really like to do.

SA: Could it maybe turn out to be a learning experience, before you found a startup in San Francisco?

ED: I can totally imagine that, for sure. It’s very common. I do think there are a lot of things I can still learn. For me, San Francisco has always been the place; when I was living in Amsterdam you maybe look at Berlin, when you’re in Berlin you maybe look at San Francisco. It seems pretty natural to me.

SA: What will you miss about Berlin?

ED: Mostly the people. Berlin has a really nice scene of very open entrepreneurs, lots of fresh ideas, people wanting to go for it. It’s a great city to live in, but it’s the people I’ll miss a lot.

SA: Is there a glass ceiling in Berlin when it comes to growing a company?

ED: I don’t think there is a glass ceiling, no. There are some companies growing so fast here; if you are part of them it is is amazing. There are so many opportunities, and it is not just going to stop, there is not a glass ceiling for those companies. And there are also new companies who are doing crazy good. There are just more companies in San Francisco, that’s the thing. Bringing people together around events is just the thing that I really strongly believe in and I am very excited about that thought, so for me that’s the great opportunity.

SA: You’ve been a presence on the startup scene here in Berlin from when it first started blooming. How has it grown in that time, and what does the future hold?

ED: The startup scene got a lot more mature. People are a lot more focused and the hype has kind of gone which is great. The only thing that Berlin needs is time, which is also the only thing that a startup doesn’t have. But in one year, two years, three years, Berlin will still be around , it will be much bigger, much more successful, there will probably be a few companies that are extremely big that are being born today. It is an extremely exciting scene.

SA: Does Berlin suffer from a lack of money?

ED: I don’t think it’s a money thing. The money is never going to bring good ideas to life. It’s the entrepreneurs themselves, and how far you want to go, how creative are you, how much risk you are willing to take. Those kinds of things are much more important than the money. Berlin has always been a bottom up kind of scene; there was no real VC in town until a couple of years ago, when Earlybird moved here. That’s just one of those things – the money will always follow the ideas, and not the other way round. Ideas don’t follow money. I’m not too worried about that. I think Berlin is on a good track.

SA: What sort of knowledge have to acquired here?

ED: There are lots of unique things about Berlin. When you are a startup here, you need to be able to expand internationally from day one. Germany for a lot of markets is not big enough. That’s something that you learn here that you can apply everywhere else.

And there a lot of other things here that you can learn, especially product. Berlin is very product-orientated, there are some really great product companies here. But it’s also true the other way around – there are things that you can maybe not learn here.

SA: Such as?

ED: Scaling a company and scaling a product. That’s more difficult to learn here. Because there are just so few companies that have been able to reach such extreme growth. That just takes time.

SA: What advice do you have for someone thinking about coming to Berlin to found a company?

ED: Try to focus on something small – launch early, ship fast, that kind of thing. Do that before you even start considering raising money. Really try to focus on your product rather than all the other stuff. All that will come later. I see a lot of people say, oh, I need to raise money from day one. I think that is only a distraction. It’s very important to focus on your product and your team, especially from the beginning, and then figure out the rest. That needs to be a priority.