With its booming startup ecosystem, Berlin is for Europe what the Bay Area is for America. Many Berlin-born companies have grown globally, just like Zalando, an online retailer that is attracting talent from all over the world. Many of these startups are 100% digital, developing platforms, services or apps.
That’s where the company called Mitte stands out, with its hardware product. It is a young yet rapidly growing startup located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, Downtown Berlin. Their mission is to make tap water, a pillar of human life, purer and healthier, in order to reduce our dependency on bottled water, which makes no sense either economically or environmentally. Their answer to this problem is a consumer product named Mitte Home. It’s a water purifier and enhancer, via respectively distillation and mineralization. The business model relies on purchasing the product first and then buying mineral cartridges once these get empty.
Our visit started by a Mitte introduction, where Moritz Waldstein, the CEO explained the company vision, starting from a consumer product to a potential future growth inside companies and even humanitarian missions. Dr. Wiebe Wagemans, Vice President of Engineering then gave us insights about the process of product development. One of the highlights was the product story, from a prototype to a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and 30 million USD raised in venture capitals. Composed of roughly 30 people, the team is split in three, one of them being the Tech subteam, itself divided with people in Hardware, Software, and Water specialties. Maya Mardini, a Mechanical Engineer, gave us a talk on what it was like to be an engineer at Mitte, wearing the many hats that a hardware product in a digital world requires, such as programming, rapid prototyping, and even user experience studies, as well as being part of the family that the company has become.
We then had a nice Q&A session, followed by a meet-up with other team members over drinks. It was really impressive how dedicated the team was at making our stay content-rich, unique, and memorable, although they were working really hard at the time to bring the product to market.
Wrapping up the Technology Mission with a mission-driven hardware startup was really a nice closure, and it really was the cool cherry on top of the great cake we had this far.