The Berlin-based innovators who hacked their way into Silicon Valley.
While hosting hackathons under the name Hackevents at Factory Berlin in 2015, Christian and Michael Strobl, Marc Seitz and Tobias Jost gained a reputation as a resource for top developers and designers, and an agile team that could solve ultra-complex business problems using hacker techniques.
The four co-founders, all from Munich, relocated to Berlin to be in the epicenter of Europe’s tech capital and to collaborate with a wealth of international talent. “Starting out, Factory Berlin helped build our confidence because we had a place where we could show our work and invite people,” explains Jost. Through their efforts in reaching out to the community and working with Twitter, Facebook and Lyft, word spread through the network.
As the company gained traction, so did their ideas for growth. They reached out to German investors and had some term sheets on the table before a new opportunity emerged with James Currier from US Accelerator NFX Guild in Paolo Alto. Currier was known to only look into startups from Israel and the United States, so the team had to come up with an unconventional way to get his attention and change his mind.
“We hacked into his website, reset his password and sent him an email letting him know we found a security flaw and to connect with us,” says Jost. After some back and forth, Currier invested in the company, and two months later they were on the ground in Silicon Valley.
“Hacking is essentially a means to overcome your limitations and to push yourself to experiment with new technologies.”
Taking Hackerbay to Silicon Valley, then back to Berlin.
After six months in California taking part in the NFX 2016 Summer Program, Hackerbay shifted gears and pivoted their focus to the B2B side. They soon realized that the best way to make their mark in the B2B space would be to return to Berlin, where they had not only a good understanding of the market’s needs, but also an established network of companies and resources to tap into.
In October 2016, they returned to Factory Berlin. “When we’re here at Factory, we’re part of this bigger community,” says Jost.
The team quickly grew from four to fourteen people and was working round the clock on creating 24-hour app prototypes before realising this was not the type of workflow and business model they wanted to pursue in the long-term. Instead, they saw an opportunity to shift from a model designed for startups to a digital consulting business for large corporates.
“We didn’t have case studies, but we pitched in front of clients almost five times a week, which got us the funnel.” explains Jost. Their first major project after the product shift was with Vodafone, after the team was invited to pitch a working collaboration idea with the multinational telecommunications company at its space in Factory Berlin. From there, Hackerbay started working more with corporate partners and recently announced a strategic partnership with Kamax.
Going Global: Hackerbay Singapore.
In early 2018, a Singaporean delegation came to Berlin to visit the team. Hackerbay recognized the opportunity to grow in Southeast Asia and decided to push forward on the international front.
Hackerbay recently announced they are taking part in the German Accelerator Program backed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The esteemed program helps German tech startups break into the Southeast Asian markets and develops them into internationally recognized companies.
They were accepted into the program in Singapore, a tech hub with close access to growing Asian markets like China, Thailand and Indonesia. Marc Seitz and two others will be in Singapore for the next six months, with a focus in growing business development and sales abroad whilst product development remains based in Berlin.