Papas Shorts: First-time founders finding their feet.

Being a first-time founder is hard. Being a first-time founder in the fashion industry is even harder. Fortunately, for the newbie founders of the clothing brand Papa Shorts their search for an HQ not only landed them in a central office space but also the perfect start for their business.

Papas Shorts: First-time founders finding their feet.
Key results:
  • We gave the founders of Papas Shorts not only an ideal spot in which to base their operations but also access to our expert team to help them learn the ropes of doing business.
  • Tom and Robert’s residency at Space stripped away potential distractions helping them stay laser focussed.
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The business

Comfort and fashion together at last!

Papas Shorts was inspired by when its founders Tom and Robert wanted to wear clothing they couldn’t seem to buy anywhere. In particular, shorts with a classic design but also comfortable. Frustrated by the fact that the fashion industry in Germany hasn’t been able to tackle the age-old problem of form versus function, they decided to take matters into their own hands by starting a business to do just that.

The obstacles

Doing anything for the first time is hard. Business is no different. You may have had extensive experience working for a business but nothing will fully prepare you for actually running a business. There are so many moving parts you have to hold together. However, in Germany, businesses have a lot of extra parts thanks to its complicated bureaucracy. Needless to say, if you’re new to doing business in Germany, you need all the help you can get.

Finding a workable working space in Berlin isn’t easy 

For Tom and Rob, finding the right place to base their operations was a difficult one. Unfortunately, office space in Germany’s capital is as expensive as it is scarce. Alternatively, there is an abundance of co-working spaces, but they charge a high premium for a fixed desk and their cheaper offerings are crowded and distraction-filled. As a founder – and especially as a newbie founder – you have to choose how to spend your time wisely. Spending a chunk of time dealing with the reality of co-working spaces such as battling it out for a desk or filtering the sea of people and events isn’t optimal.

Jack of all trades, master of none

Naturally, when you’re just starting out as a founder or a new enterprise you’re shaky on your feet because you haven’t done it before. And because you don’t know any better it can be tempting to DIY, especially if you have looming financial constraints. But, this can end up costing you big time if you let your business operations consume your time at the expense of growing your business. That being said, if you don’t have deep pockets, getting the right kind of support to take those crucial first steps can also be challenging.

Distractions are everywhere

If you read the advice out there for first-time founders, the recommendation to tune out ALL distractions is a recurring theme. A startup has a lot of ancillary functions that while important can easily fill your day as a founder. This is a pitfall that lived experience tells us to avoid at all costs. However, how much you can tune out distractions depends not only on your work environment but also on your ability to delegate or outsource as many as these ancillary tasks as possible so you can stay laser-focused on what matters most.

The way

As first-time founders, Tom and Robert were in need is a base of operations that was cost-effective and without all the distracting bells and whistles of a co-working space. They also knew that although they were bootstrapping their business, there was no way they could learn how to do everything themselves, especially when it came to red tape. Lucky for them they found everything they were looking for in one single place, which is exactly the point enters this story.

Office space optimised for startup growth

We ( are always looking for innovative ways to help entrepreneurs succeed in Germany. Many of these things don’t scale. But they’re still impactful and teach us valuable lessons about the needs of our customers. One initiative was’s pop-up office for newly minted founders that we called Space. This was a literal microcosm of’s business ecosystem in Germany. The office was a hive of lawyers, techies, marketers and entrepreneurs. A perfect setup for giving first-time founders (next-door) access to people with valuable expertise.

Tuning out the distractions

Unlike the hyper-social co-working spaces that are all the rage these days, the Space was first and foremost all about doing business. Distraction comes in a million forms and more often than not entrepreneurs can be led astray by the many events, parties and social interactions that are typical of co-working spaces. The Space offered Papas Shorts a place to call home that was not only centrally located, friendly to their bootstrapped bottom line but also engineered for deep work.

Join forces with people who have the experience you don’t

No matter what stage of your business is at, the best thing you can do is join forces with people who are more experienced than you are. This not only helps you tune out distractions (e.g. dealing with bureaucratic matters) but also means you’re not wasting precious time on something you’ll probably mess up anyway. A lot of mistakes are avoidable if you recognise your limitations and focus solely on key priorities.

The ambitious residents of Space got just what the doctor ordered – in-house partners who were more experienced and knowledgeable, who took care of all the bureaucratic moving parts of their businesses so they could focus on growth. This is perfectly summed up in Papas Short’s own words:

“Having a good support network at the founding stage can be a significant advantage. There are many unknowns that first-time founders have to deal with extensively. In particular, legal and accounting issues can take up an excessive amount of resources, with the risk of overlooking something critical. For this reason, is a reliable partner who provides the support that founders need to be successful.” is by founders, for founders 

At, we want to support all the people out there courageous enough to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, no matter how large their bank account is. This is often the case for first-time founders who are still finding their feet. And, this is the reason why we created the Space when we had the opportunity.

Making Germany more comfortable and fashionable 

Tom and Robert have come a long way since their Space days. They closed a big funding deal with the best kind of investor: a customer! This will empower them to grow Papas Shorts to become the leading D2C leisurewear brand for men (in Germany)! We look forward to watching their business go from strength to strength and are confident they’ll become another Berlin startup success story.

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