Dot Game w/h Jakob Berndt | hvv switch | hvv switch

my hvv switch station

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On the Neuer Pferdemarkt with Jakob Berndt

Every hvv switch point is a story in itself - and an invitation to make a point. More than 130 hvv switch points in Hamburg offer a variety of ways to get from A to anywhere. We introduce you to exciting people from Hamburg - on their routes through the city. This time: Jakob Berndt, co-founder of Tomorrow, Lemonaid and Charitea.

There are over 130 hvv switch points in Hamburg. Some of them have their very own story attached to them. We meet exciting people from our city - at locations that they use frequently. This time: Jakob Berndt, co-founder of Tomorrow, Lemonaid and Charitea.

Jakob Berndt is pretty much the opposite of what you would imagine a bank manager to be. He wears neither a suit nor a shirt, but jeans and a jumper. He spends his weekends at a campsite not far from Lake Plön and is annoyed by fat SUVs instead of driving one. Nevertheless, he is the head of a bank.

Together with Inas Nureldin and Michael Schweikart, he founded Tomorrow, a sustainable digital banking provider, in 2017. What works differently here than at many other banks is quickly explained: money is invested in suppliers of bicycle parts or renewable energy instead of in weapons, coal power or other things that demonstrably harm people and nature. Capital should not only multiply - it should be put to good use.

Jakob made a name for himself as a founder long before his banking career in Hamburg: as co-founder of Lemonaid and Charitea. The beverage brands were basically intended to do the same as Tomorrow does now: put profit to good use. Even today, 5 cents per bottle sold automatically goes to a charitable organisation. In 2017, Jakob withdrew from the beverage brands and switched from organic soda to the banking business.

We meet Jakob at the hvv switch point Neuer Pferdemarkt.

Jakob, we're meeting at Neuer Pferdemarkt - because this is where Tomorrow's office is?

That too, yes. But when I received your enquiry, the first place I thought of was the hvv switch point Hoheluftbrücke.

Why?

It was the first transport hub I came into contact with because I grew up there. For the first 20 years of my life, it was my gateway to the world. Travelling started here in the underground, party nights, everything. But that was so long ago - and this corner here has been an important place for me for many years. I lived in St Pauli for almost 20 years. My children were born when we lived here. It's close to the Millerntor, where I like to be, and when I go out, it's here - which isn't so often the case now with three children...

You've just come running. How else do you get around Hamburg?

At the moment, I move around a lot more than I used to, because we moved to Lokstedt with the family. Before, leisure and work took place within a relatively manageable radius. Now the distances are longer, but I still cycle almost all the time. When I'm not cycling, I walk a lot. Then comes public transport, then the car. In that order.

Do you use car sharing?

Not regularly for a long time, to be honest. Do we have to stop the interview now? (laughs)

Nope! But of course we're interested in why?

At some point - after many years without one - we actually bought a family car. It's simply more practical with three children - car sharing traditionally has the problem of child seats. But when I'm not travelling with the kids, I hardly drive a car at all.

For sustainable or sporting reasons?

Above all, I simply dislike driving. On the mountain roads of Corsica - fine by me! But in the city, the roads are so crowded. I can't stand traffic jams, I'm an incredibly impatient person. And you usually stand more than you drive. Then there's the feeling that you're using up resources unnecessarily in a big piece of metal and making the air worse in the process...

Do you use e-scooters?

No. I'm kind of sceptical about that... Even though I know, of course, that we need them in certain areas for a change in mobility. Even if it's annoying: when in doubt, it's better to have scooters lying around than cars everywhere. But nobody complains about cars - because everyone has got used to parked cars.

What would you like to see for Hamburg in terms of mobility?

Hamburg is already moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, I look with envy and fascination at cities like Paris, where the traffic turnaround is consistently lived and enforced. I live near Hoheluftchaussee: six lanes for motorised traffic, hardly any space for cyclists or pedestrians. And people wonder why every second shop there goes out of business after six months. But who likes walking along a motorway like that? It's also super dangerous to cycle there. It's all out of date. I would like to see the car not always come first - I say that as a cyclist, but also as a person in general.

You are from Hamburg. Is there a place that is particularly close to your heart?

Planten un Blomen. That was a blessing with the children, especially during corona. During this time, we lived in a relatively small flat in Marktstraße and the ramparts were our extended garden. My children learnt to ride bikes and play basketball, climb and swing there. I still spend a lot of time there today. I go for walks a lot and try to hold every meeting with colleagues while walking. My running route used to be there too, which was great. As you can see, my eyes light up. I really miss this park, because now we're more in the Niendorfer Gehege. I find that a bit stuffy in comparison...

You have founded two companies in Hamburg. Is it a good city for founders?

I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce would love to hear that... (grins) I'm actually just from Hamburg, and moving somewhere else to start a business would have been stupid: I had a network here, initial points of contact, and there is a large cultural and pop-cultural milieu in Hamburg. This was ideal for Lemonaid, because we wanted to establish the topic via the trendy catering scene. I was able to stumble into the Bullerei from my front door and introduce the topic.

You first founded Lemonaid, now you and two partners are the boss of a sustainable banking provider. How difficult was the transition from lemonade to credit limits?

On the one hand, it felt easy and natural in a way, because the motivation behind it was so obvious and so strong: this desire to enter a market that has such great leverage for positive change - but which is far too underutilised. The potential for change was so obvious that even I, who knew nothing about finance or technology, quickly got the feeling: There's a lot going on. But I can say with certainty that I wouldn't have started this project alone. As a founding trio, we had a very complementary set-up at the time, and we needed that.

Where did you have to rethink?

What we had certainly underestimated is that an account is not an impulse product like lemonade. You can open an account in ten minutes, but for many people it somehow feels more strenuous. And it takes a lot of trust. All those direct debits you have to change... There's actually an account switching service that can take care of that. With money, there are simply fears and worries. "Can you really trust the company? I've always been with the savings bank..." So you have to create a lot of incentives. And you need patience. We had imagined it would be easier. But over 120,000 people have already opened accounts with us. So it's working.

Both Lemonaid and Tomorrow are social businesses. Is there a social business in Hamburg that you find exciting and that you think deserves more attention?

Traditional institutions like the food bank need more attention. They are such great people who do such good and important work - but perhaps they don't come across as innovative and aren't as present on Instagram. They fill gaps that should actually be filled by the welfare state. We should take a closer look and recognise their efforts.

Jakob Berndt at a hvv switch point at the Neuer Pferdemarkt in Hamburg.


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