We’ve already analyzed the most impressive FinTech accelerators in Tel Aviv and in London, but we’re not intending to stop. This series of articles is going to be a frequent visitor on the Code and Pepper blog and we’re going to keep them all up to date. This time, let’s take a trip to the capital city of Germany, Berlin, where cultures mix, currywurst is everywhere and so are FinTechs. Let’s go take a closer look at FinTech accelerators in Berlin!
Let’s start our trip with the largest accelerators in town. This time, we’re going to discuss fewer of them, but you can be sure that they’re impressive and you’ll learn the most important facts about them in no time.
Most popular FinTech accelerators for startups in Berlin
Axel Springer Plug And Play Accelerator: top FinTech hub in Berlin
Axel Springer Plug And Play Accelerator is one of the leading FinTech accelerators in Berlin. It was formed as a joint venture between Plug and Play Tech Center (a platform that connects startups with large scale corporations) and Axel Springer SE (a German market leader in the print media sector present in 40+ countries and one of the largest digital media publishers). AS PnP offers a variety of helpful services: assistance from experienced mentors, a wide network of business contacts, workshops that help young entrepreneurs learn how to manage their company in an effective way and office spaces.
As a Berlin FinTech accelerator, AS PnP focuses on investing in innovative start-ups and early stage enterprises. So far, they’ve managed to build an impressive portfolio of over one hundred companies that have graduated from their program and are proud to say that they don’t limit themselves to typical businesses – they even work with artists, such as Adam Harvey, who uses technology to to bring the viewers’ attention to topics such as privacy.
The most successful companies in the Axel Springer Plug And Play Accelerator:
- chatchamp – an automated marketing solution dedicated for e-commerces and allowing them to send out precisely targeted messages to the customers in order to increase the customer lifetime value.
- Rentse – an online booking platform that matches freelancers, homeworkers and other professionals with their ideal temporary work space. Rentse enables its users with the opportunity to shift from “home alone” mode to co-working mode and to take their business to the next level for a fraction of the cost of traditional office space.
- Foodscovery – an online marketplace that focuses on delivering products from local farmers straight to the customers’ tables. The service is currently available in Italy and offers a variety of cheeses, meats, produce and preserves.
- N26 – a hugely popular direct bank. As such, N26 has no physical branches and it’s available as an app. It offers all services that a normal bank can, but does it in a smarter, more customer friendly way and reduces its fees to a bare minimum, thus being very affordable.
Germantech is more than an accelerator, it’s a collaboration of corporations, startups and educational institutions that work together to achieve common goals. When it comes to startups, GTEC focuses on mentorship, countless networking opportunities, free access to all of the events they organize (including workshops) – not to mention office space.
The organization literally uses the word “ecosystem” in their communication and it probably is the best way to describe Germantech. At its heart is free education and content provided by entrepreneurs and available to an international audience. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has put all of the planned Germantech events on hold, but their YouTube channel with podcasts and interviews is growing dynamically.
What makes Germantech special is the practical approach. Instead of encouraging risky business and creating solutions whose success may be spectacular, but is very unlikely, they try to find compromise between copycats and unicorns. They call such companies zebras.
WE DON’T MAKE COPYCATS, WE BUILD ZEBRAS
Unicorns are often unsustainable – economically and ecologically. Zebras combine profit and doing good. They are black AND white.
We can’t wait until the pandemic is over, because that’s when GTEC’s NO BULLSHIT LAB is going to start working again. This fancy called initiative offers tailor-made help for startups, based on individual analysis of each case. You benefit from its help for up to 12 months completely for free, if you’re innovative enough and your solution can help reach the Sustainable Development goals of the UN.
GTEC (in cooperation with EU and international partners) is also responsible for creating the SOFT-LANDING programme, which organizes missions to other countries and helps to scale up.
Founder Institute Berlin
Founder Institute Berlin is one of 5 German branches of the worldwide network of Founder Institute chapters. The organization was founded in 2009, in the heart of Silicon Valley and introduces itself as the first pre-seed startup accelerator. It means that FIB’s goal is to educate and provide expert feedback to beginning entrepreneurs on the earliest stages of their work and enable them to to build their businesses from scratch with assistance of the industry leaders.
The Founder Institute Berlin’s help is organized in three stages:
- Idea Stage – polishing rough ideas and turning them into actual businesses. It happens step-by-step and with supervision of experts who provide constant feedback.
- MVP Stage – preparation of the minimum viable product, using a strictly analytical approach and with guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs.
- Early Company Stage – after all of the preparations are done and when the idea has already been transformed into a product, the FIB’s members do whatever they can to help capitalizing on it.
Founder Institute has a very specific methodology that has been tested on almost 5000 companies all around the world and that puts a lot of pressure on the potential alumni, so they have to work hard and overcome their limitations. In fact, only 35% of the founders finish the program, however, those who do, have the highest chances of achieving a spectacular market success. Moreover, they retain a lifetime of support, so the Founder Institute’s role is not just to help you start – this organization wants to keep an eye on you and help you solve problems over the years.
Most notable alumni of Founder Institute:
- Udemy – the first destination for online education. Udemy teaches over 35 million students, employs over 57 thousand instructors and offers more than 130 thousand courses in 65 languages. The curriculum focuses mostly on improving job-related skills, however you can learn literally everything there, from cooking, through photography up to programming AI solutions.
- Travelcar – Europe’s quickest growing car rental service. It integrates a few useful options that travelers love: booking parking spots, car sharing and ordering transfers. Travelcar managed to gather a whopping million of returning customers.
- Itembase – a Berlin-based online inventory management system for customers and merchants. Itembase simplifies the way ecommerce can be run with an API based solution that allows for integrating marketplaces, merchants and stores databases, so wares can be distributed over a much larger network of retailers.
- Ovamba – provider of data analytics for partner banks. As an innovative FinTech, Ovamba also cooperates with central banks, helping them develop better policies, reduce non-performing loans and strengthen the markets by creating safer, more inclusive banking systems.
Techstars Berlin offers a three months long curriculum and focuses on mentoring. As a global social network of investors, entrepreneurs and experts of all kinds, they focus on getting startups up-and-running as fast as possible. After this period though, you’ll become a member of the community for a lifetime and you’ll be able to make the best use of the networking possibilities it offers.
As an institution, Techstars has been helping people since 2006 and dealt with all sorts of industries, from aerospace, through retail, to finance. Techstars helps with the core aspects of running a company: business development, marketing, reaching new customers and recruiting an effective team (our Team Augmentation service can help too!).
Mentorship is one of the biggest takeaways from the Techstars experience. It’s important to learn from those who have been there, done that.Mitch Wainer Co-Founder, DigitalOcean
The most interesting startups blossoming thanks to Techstars:
- Remitly – a platform that allows for cheap and secure international money transfers (read more about payment processing solutions). Its users can send funds worldwide quickly and if the system fails – they are reimbursed. Remmitly also offers optimal exchange rates and cooperates with local banks all over the world. Of course, the whole service is available as an app.
- Realty Mogul – an investment platform and marketplace that focuses on the real estate market. So far over 200,000 investors have joined it and diversified their portfolio with market equities and bonds based on commercial real estate. Using this stable industry allows Realty Mogul to advertise their platform as a simple way of obtaining passive income.
Grow your business with FinTech accelerators in Berlin!
There aren’t many accelerators that focus solely on FinTech in Berlin, but those that you can find in this city are attractive, nonetheless. Especially the scale of these institutions and strict rules that they follow make them interesting from a startup point of view. Even though growing your business with them may be demanding, the effectiveness rate they offer is extremely high. If you’re on the other side and you’re more interested in investing in FinTech startups, read about the trends you should follow in our recent analysis.