Ten years of hubraum! We’re hitting our tenth anniversary this year — a decade of innovation; of trying and succeeding; trying and failing forward; of connecting the most exciting startups with the power of global telco; of bringing the most futuristic technology to parts of Europe before anyone else. We couldn’t be prouder. The only appropriate way to mark the occasion? With a potted history: we’ll be delving into the highs and lows of our journey, year by year, in a series of blog articles. Today we’ll be exploring the first year of hubraum’s life with someone who’s been with us since the beginning: Andreas Dönges.
Andreas is an innovation transfer manager who has been with us since day dot. What was the most compelling part of 2012 — the first year we were around — for him?
“In 2012, I joined hubraum as a key relationship manager. Before that, I’d already worked at Deutsche Telekom for eleven years — at the time, they were looking for internal employees who had experience with startups, and I worked in a department that had already done a few projects with startups, so I was a strong candidate for the role. The idea for hubraum came from the CEO of the Scout group (the group behind Immobilienscout24, Autoscout) who had successfully implemented an incubator for his group. It was incredible to form part of the team who would build Deutsche Telekom’s very first startup incubator.
We felt a little bit like ambassadors for startups within Deutsche Telekom, which, back then, was relatively unused to working with startups. There was a certain amount of translation — translating startup talk to corporates and vice versa. Plus, our six-person team felt like its own startup: we didn’t know if the incubator would be successful, there were challenges we’d never faced before, we didn’t know how long Deutsche Telekom would allocate money for this, so there was the same sense of risk you get at a startup. We really threw ourselves into the work — we were so passionate about the project that there was no clock-watching, we worked long hours, but it was fine. We wanted to.
For me, it was really exciting to get to work in Berlin. I was then, and am still, based just outside of Frankfurt, something that’s important for Deutsche Telekom — most of their stakeholders live in Bonn or Darmstadt, so a crucial part of my role is acting as a go-between. I need to bring hubraum’s startups together with Deutsche Telekom’s different departments, something which would be harder to do if I was based in Berlin full-time.
Berlin as a location was and is great. Some of our team came from Berlin originally, but others, like me, were based elsewhere, and for us, it was a real rush to get to work there for the first time. Initially, while we worked on finding a location, we were based out of Scout’s building near Ostbahnhof and it was a really inspiring atmosphere.
Ultimately, I’ve stuck around at hubraum all these years, because while a lot has changed (we’re now more focused on doing startup programs than on investment, which was originally more of a priority), one key thing is the same. It’s still the most interesting place I can imagine working. Nobody continuously innovates in the way hubraum does.”
What happened next? Skip to the next chapter: 2013, when hubraum had to choose a second European destination for their next campus. But why did they opt for Krakow?
“I remember holding a party to celebrate both scoring some funding and my birthday in the hubraum cafeteria which was stopped by the police at some point.” Or skip two chapters ahead to 2014, which was full of rooftop parties and fun, thanks to Flexperto’s collaboration with us.