Last Thursday, March 19th HanaHaus opened in downtown Palo Alto – The SAP Startup Focus Team visited the coffee shop one day in advance during the sneak preview for SAP employees. A lot of people on the street and many colleagues were curious: Why is SAP opening a café? Why here in Palo Alto and why now? I had the same questions a year ago, when my former team colleague Sanjay Shirole told me about the proposed project and announced that he would lead it. Knowing what I know now, let me share why I view HanaHaus as an important milestone for SAP, and for innovation teams like Startup Focus.

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Entrance to HanaHaus from University Ave in Palo Alto.

Why here?

Well, University Ave is a special place – It is one of the most prominent streets in the Silicon Valley: every startup and VC in the world has likely heard of it, and Bay Area entrepreneurs often gather over dinner or coffee to strategize. People stop in at charming outdoor cafes to talk about next generation technologies, Teslas and Telerobots drive by with increasing frequency, and pedestrians wear google-glasses and iWatches. People care for vintage bicycles, organic food and the latest tech gossip. It is THE place for geeks, for venture capital… well, you get the point.

Why SAP?

First of all, yes HanaHaus is owned by SAP and no, you wont notice it if you don’t know. For the past year there were a lot of rumours about the project. Some people thought that it would look like a German Brauhaus with Beer Garden, others thought that it would be like any other peet’s or starbucks store. I can tell you that none of this is true. It is a coffee shop with high-quality drinks and a small food menu. The location is at the eastern end of University Ave, just a couple of blocks before the residential area of Palo Alto begins. The building is a beautiful property that used to be house the New Varsity Theater and then a bookstore before it was abandoned for the last couple of years.

If you enter HanaHaus from University Ave you cross a cute courtyard with a nice fountain and comfortable lounge chairs. Inside you will find the coffee bar and high tables with bar chairs. So far so good, nothing special – the main attraction however, is located in the former theater, separated horizontally with a glass ceiling, that divides the first floor (rented out to a startup) with the ground floor:

a co-working space, meant to host entrepreneurs, techies, venture capitalists, for the purpose of business-meetings, meetups or any other event, and anyone who wants to innovate while enjoying a good cup of coffee.

This space can be booked online or with the concierge.

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Courtyard and water fountain.

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Main area inside HanaHaus.

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Co-Working Space inside HanaHaus.

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Tabletop Soccer area

If you are not sure why SAP is coming up with this concept, you have to go back in history: SAP was founded as a startup in Germany 40+ years ago and Prof. Dr. h.c. Hasso Plattner, has initiated many projects that support young companies with high potential. HanaHaus is only the most recent one. As a reminder: Three years ago, the Startup Focus program was successfully launched as a chairman project as well – the idea was to offer SAP’s HANA technology to selected enterprise startups worldwide. The other part was to connect to the global startup scenes, to learn how they innovate, how they build products and how a corporation like SAP can learn from them. Today we are working with more than 1,900 startups worldwide that want to leverage SAP HANA. HanaHaus is only a reflection of SAP’s commitment to once again extending into the startup ecosystem.

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Will startups like it?

That’s exactly what we wanted to know, so we invited Simon Bain, CEO of SearchYourCloud and member of the SAP Startup Focus program to join us for the pre-opening party at HanaHaus last week. He loved it: “I will definitely have my next meetings here”. At HanaHaus you can reserve a table, a desk, a meeting room, a lounge or even a quiet room in advance to provide an adequate meeting space – and in a prime location like Palo Alto, that’s a big advantage.

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Simon Bain, CEO of SearchYourCloud (middle) gives his stamp of approval.

We hope that HanaHaus has a successful start and will provide the startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley with a new place to meet and to work, to innovate and to enjoy good coffee.

We are planning to host some of our events at HanaHaus in the future – stay tuned!

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