We caught up with Iva Jankovic Uzunovski, COO, betahausX, one of the prominent community builders of Berlin and also known for a strong association with the Korean startup ecosystem. She has been working as betahausX COO, mainly focusing on designing programs and building ecosystems for corporate companies, startups, and governments. She has designed, coordinated, and executed over 100 large-scale projects, working intimately with startups and large organizations alike. Here is what she has to say about he interest in the Asian startup ecosystem and why Berlin is the route to make in Europe:
What attracts you to an event like AsiaBerlin Summit or what is your interest in Asia?
With betahaus X, we work a lot on designing different programs to support the internationalization of startups, whether they’re coming over to Europe, or whether we’re helping them expand to different countries, including Asia. For me, I’m really looking to finding out more about how we can tailor those programs in order to really tackle some of the challenges that these companies have been experiencing in both going coming to Europe, as well as leaving Europe and going to Asia, and especially considering the current environment and current additional level of challenges with the pandemic. Hence, AsiaBerlin Summit is a great platform to do this.
What according to you are the other advantages of founding a startup here in Berlin? Like what is? What is it that Berlin offers that we won’t find in any other European country?
Like everybody living in Berlin, I still find Berlin very sexy. I think that everybody who wants to found or relocate here considers that attribute of the city. The city still is affordable and still allows a lot of access when it comes to Europe. I do believe Berlin has become and is a gateway towards Europe. For many startups coming here, I don’t believe Berlin is their market or maybe even Germany — I do believe that this is their hotspot to start, and then be able to enter other European countries within the union.
How do you think a platform like the Asia BerlinSummit helps in connecting these ecosystems?
A platform like AsiaBerlin is being able to propaganda a little bit about the ecosystems,I think there’s a big gap in understanding the Asian market and the diversity within it. A platform like AsiaBerlin allows me to understand that and get connected. Right now, at Betahaus, we are hosting a lot of startups from Korea, and they appreciate the insight that they’re getting about the European market from a platform like AsiaBerlin.
What do you think that Berlin startups can do to increase the diversity aspect?
First of all, the reason why I got to Berlin (I am not German) is that Berlin is sexy and not limited in terms of language. You do have a level of diversity between races, cultures, religions, kinks, interests — Berlin is a city of everything. So it’s easy to find yourself. I don’t believe in hiring diversity for the sake of diversity. I believe in hiring talent for the sake of being a talent. But I do believe in diversity in our surroundings. I believe, maybe for us as community builders, it is crucial to think of diversity as part of a community, but not necessarily as talent needing to hire.
What are your initiatives with Korean startups at betahaus? How do you help Asian startups come to Europe?
At betahaus X, we have developed different landing pads. In order to be able to onboard this, we do this in close partnerships with various governments, also private partners to help us really provide the value needed. Currently, we’re running a landing pad with Korean startups, we have also supported it the other way around. We are also looking to do this hopefully in other countries. At the moment, we are targeting a lot of countries in Asia. We don’t have a fixed program for this. We are looking for partners to help us deliver this program.
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