Everything you need to know.

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COVID-19 Updates & Resources
How does German Accelerator continue its programs in 2020?

We now run all our programs virtually. Our startups are preparing for their international expansion journey from Germany and we will make up for the local presence and the corresponding intensive networking in Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, or Singapore at a later date, once the situation around the Coronavirus has improved. We will also begin our Discovery Tours, Next Step Asia and Next Step India, remotely and we will carry out the planned ten-day on-site visits as soon as the global situation permits. Our various workshops, trainings, and coachings are now held virtually, as is the individual collaboration for each startup with our mentors and coaches. To foster the exchange between startups amongst each other, common happy hours, intros, and pitches are now taking place online and even across locations. We have also added special sessions to our offerings that help our startups navigate the current crisis, prepare for a recession, and plan for the future post-corona.

Where can I check for updates on related workshops and events?

We have just launched a new webinar series “Pass The Mic” in which we bring international experts together to cover a wide variety of topics. This way, we provide startups in Germany with expert knowledge, specific information, and support them in coping with the crisis as best as possible. This webinar series is not only offered to our current program participants and alumni, but we also open it to other startups and members of the startup ecosystem. In addition, we have launched “Startup Stereo,” a German Accelerator podcast with and for founders, innovators, and change-makers, covering topics such as expansion, leadership, new work, company culture, and more. See all events here.

I planned to expand my business this year, but due to the corona crisis, I am hesitant and not sure if my company should pursue this goal.

If your business is ready to scale, you should continue pursuing this goal! Of course, we take concerns around the coronavirus seriously and understand any hesitation. You can start the internationalization process from home and prepare yourself and your business as best as possible while staying in Germany. We keep monitoring the developments around the globe, follow both local and international recommendations, but still, a new market can open new doors to new customers and partners – not only in the future but also right now. 

If it’s not possible to actually travel abroad and make local connections, why should I still apply for any of the German Accelerator programs?

Extensive and thorough preparation is the key to successful internationalization. The situation around COVID-19 allows you to fully focus on solid groundwork while staying home and enables you to position yourself better before you start the market entry on the ground in the local ecosystem. Our international teams and mentors will not only support you in setting up these fundamentals but will also help you get through the crisis, and prepare you for a potential recession. You can rely on their long-year business, management, and leadership experience, connect with other startup founders in our community, and leverage our strong global network virtually. We will make up for the local presence and the corresponding intensive networking in Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, or Singapore at a later date, once the situation around the CoronavirusCOVID-19 has improved. We will also begin our Discovery Tours, Next Step Asia and Next Step India, remotely and we will carry out the planned ten-day on-site visits as soon as the global situation permits.

How can German Accelerator help my company to get through the crisis?

The time is now to explore new opportunities and consider new potentials for your business for the post-corona economy and define the next steps. We can support you in exploring new opportunities for the time after. Preparing your business for a new market will facilitate the expansion and, in fact, might help you overcome a financial shortage by introducing your business to new customers, partners, and investors. Among our mentors are proven experts in multiple industries, serial entrepreneurs, and strong leaders who have managed companies survive the recessions of the last decades. You will have the chance to get their individual advice tailored to your company’s needs – during the crisis but also once the situation has improved when it’s time again for you to #GoFarGrowFast.

Does my company qualify for the German Accelerator program?

To qualify for any German Accelerator program, your company has to meet our selection criteria:

  1. Your company must be incorporated in Germany with one of the following legal forms: UG; AG; GmbH; GmbH & Co. KG. We also consider GbRs on a case by case basis.
  2. Be under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation
For our main programs in Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, and Southeast Asia we look at factors that indicate whether your company is ready to expand to the U.S. or Southeast Asia:
  • Product: A product with significant potential in the U.S. or Asian markets, or a proprietary, disruptive technology or product.
  • Market traction: For non-healthcare or life science companies, your product or service should have a solid number of customers and traction in Germany. Healthcare and life science companies should demonstrate a high unmet or under-met market need for the proposed solution.
  • Revenue/Funding: Your company needs to be adequately funded for the duration of the program, including the associated travel, accommodation, and business expenses. Non-healthcare or life science companies with more than USD $1M in revenue and Series A-C in funding are ready for our main programs in Silicon Valley, New York, Southeast Asia, and Boston.
  • Runway: There is no specific monetary value required to participate in our program. Rather, we ask that your company has enough runway for the duration of the chosen program and a possible program extension.
  • Team: The members of the founding team need to be fully committed to establishing operations abroad and spending significant time in the region. At least one founder or senior employee needs to be present in NY/SV for 75% of the program time. This team member should be the main responsible person for internationalizing your company. This does not apply to our Life Science program.
  • Strategic planning: Before you start your expansion journey, you should consider if you have the required resources and willingness to grow your company to new markets and hire people abroad. Also, you have to ensure that your team in Germany will be able to fully function without the team members participating in the program – their job will be to focus on the program and on the U.S. expansion This does not apply to our Life Science program.
  • Board Members: Your investors and board members should support your plans to expand your company’s business to new markets with the help of our program.
For our JumpStart program located in Silicon Valley, we accept companies that have an MVP, prototype, or a version 1.0 of their product. First revenue is good but not required to participate, as JumpStart is specifically designed to help early-stage startups.

Are there any knock-out selection criteria to participate?

The basic requirements for your company to apply to any of our programs are:

  1. Company must be incorporated in Germany
  2. With one of the following legal forms: AG; GmbH; GmbH & Co. KG. We are happy to also consider GbRs on a case by case basis.
  3. Be under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation

Is there an age restriction/ limit for my company to qualify for the program?

There is no official age limit for companies to participate. The basic requirements for your company to apply to any of our programs are:

  1. Company must be incorporated in Germany
  2. With one of the following legal forms: AG; GmbH; GmbH & Co. KG. We are happy to also consider GbRs on a case by case basis.
  3. Be under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation

Can I apply if my company’s founder(s) is not German?

Sure! Founder nationality has no impact on our selection. As long as your company meets our selection criteria, and is incorporated in Germany, you are welcome to apply.

When is the right time for my company to go to the U.S. or Asia?

We always encourage startups to think about international expansion from the very beginning, as it helps you to build a scalable business model that will easily allow you to better position yourself in a global context. In terms of when you should go to the U.S. or Asia, there are a few indicators that you can look for, and your company can meet all or some of the following:

  1. When you have a proof-of-concept in your home market. You will have very clear KPIs, such as a stable revenue stream, secured funding for market expansion, or a large enough team for increased capacity.
  2. When you identify market potential in the U.S. and/or Asia and you have a good product-market-fit. This happens when you can identify an uptrend in the industry that you are playing in and your product fits well in the overseas markets.
  3. When you have the capacity and required resources in terms of people and finances to really tackle the challenge of entering a new market and establishing a business in a different country.
  4. Most important of all is knowing when your team is mentally ready as you need to dedicate a lot of resources to business expansion. You and your team should be able to embrace long periods of trial and error, but of course, you are not alone during the process and our team and mentors will guide you through every step along the way.

Our company scouts are happy to give advice.

Can I participate in multiple programs?

Yes! As your company may be a good fit for both the U.S. and Asian markets, you can participate in multiple program locations. However, we encourage you to rather focus on one program at a time, as we require that at least one founder or C-level executive attends the program on the ground 75% of the time. On top of that, international expansion, in general, requires a lot of resources and dedication. Our company scouts are happy to give advice. Contact us!

How much do I have to pay for participating in one of the programs?

No fees, no equity – all our programs are free of charge for our selected participants and we don’t take any equity. We provide free individual coaching and mentoring as well as free office space in the location. However, you are responsible for your own associated costs such as travel and accommodation and the more active you are during the program, the greater the outcome for your business will be. Read more about our code of conduct.

In order to guarantee a spot in the program, for the New York, Silicon Valley, and Southeast Asia programs, each selected company is required to pay a participation deposit of €1,000 NET (within 3 business days of confirming program participation). The deposit will be refunded in full upon successful graduation at the end of the program. This participation deposit doesn’t apply for the Life Sciences or JumpStart programs.

Will German Accelerator take equity or options from my company if I participate in the program?

We take no equity in your company and program participation is free of charge for all programs and locations. No fees, no equity, no strings attached.

How and when do I apply?

You can apply online at any time. However, there are defined application deadlines for each location and class.

Silicon Valley & New York:
07/17/20 for our Class 2020 - 4 (Program: October - December 2020)

Life Sciences:
09/25/20 - Round 31
12/04/20 - Round 32

Southeast Asia:
07/19/20 for our Class 2020 - 3 (Program: September 2020 - February 2021)

JumpStart (Silicon Valley):
Applications are closed

Apply Now!

Disclaimer: German Accelerator is currently funded by the German Ministry for Economics and Energy until December 31, 2020. The Ministry is periodically reviewing all its programs and is determined to continue the program beyond the current funding period.

What does the application process look like?

After we have collected common business data about your startup, a dedicated expert committee evaluates all applications based on a predefined set of admission criteria. We treat your data with utmost diligence and you will not be required to disclose information about the details of your proprietary solution. In order to evaluate whether your company fits into our programs, our selection committee needs information about your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. If you don’t feel comfortable with answering our application questionnaires, you can reach out to our team at any time.

You can find the details of each location’s specific application process below:

Silicon Valley, New York, Southeast Asia (for mid- and later-stage startups)

  1. Initial Application: Provide your pitch deck and answer (~10) short questions about your company.
  2. Deep Dive: Shortlisted applicants are invited to provide more in-depth information.
  3. Final Selection: You will pitch online in front of our Selection Committee, consisting of accomplished entrepreneurs and business experts. We will send you an overview of the committee members in advance. Please be prepared for a Q&A session afterwards (please note that only selected applicants will be invited to present).

Life Sciences

  1. Initial Application: Provide your pitch deck and answer questions about your company. Applications are reviewed by the Selection Committee four to six times per year, and application deadlines are posted on the website.
  2. 30 Minute Call: In addition to the application, you may be asked to participate in a 30-minute call with select members of the Selection Committee so the committee can ask questions and learn more about your company.
  3. Selection Committee Meeting: The Selection Committee members review all applications and evaluate which companies are accepted into the program.

JumpStart (for early-stage startups)

  1. Online application: Answer basic questions about your company and send us your pitch deck. You can also select your desired month of participation.
  2. Video Submission: Send us a pitch video with further details on your business. Please also see our video guidelines, and remember that a short, sweet and to the point pitch is what sticks out most. After our selection committee reviews, the selected companies will be notified of acceptance or rejection.

  3. If you want some further tips for your application, pitch deck, and presentation, you can find some articles in our German Accelerator Blog.

How long does the selection process take and how quickly can I start after being selected?

Silicon Valley, New York, and Southeast Asia: During your application, you choose which class you want to join, and at what time. The selection process takes approximately six weeks from application deadline until acceptance.

Life Sciences: We accept applications for our Boston-based program four - six times per year, and application deadlines are posted on the website.

JumpStart: During the application process, you choose in which month you would like to participate. The program starts at the beginning of the selected month.

What are my chances of being accepted into the program?

Our program is highly competitive and we cannot accept all applications. We focus on high-quality and high-potential German startups from all sectors that are capable of entering a new market. We also see it as a part of our responsibility to protect young companies from failing, even in Germany if they try to internationalize their business too early while underestimating the required resources.

Will you protect my intellectual property?

There is no need to because our application process does not require you to provide the recipe for your “secret sauce” and you will not be required to disclose information about the details of your proprietary technology. We will, however, ask for information that demonstrates your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. This information is critical to help us evaluate your fit for the program.

Any confidential information that is disclosed will be protected under a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Can I re-apply to the program? Is there a certain waiting period?

Our program is highly competitive and unfortunately we can’t accommodate all applicants. We do our best to select the companies that we believe have the greatest potential to benefit from the program. If you are not accepted the first time you apply, you are welcome to re-apply to the program based on the application deadline.

To have the best chance of being admitted on the second try, we recommend updating your application with new information demonstrating additional progress before re-submitting.

Can I get feedback in case of rejection?

Yes, of course. If you are interested in specific feedback, please reach out to our company scouts. We are always happy to support your progress!

Program Content
How can I benefit from participating in a German Accelerator program? What will be the main outcome?

All of our programs are designed to accelerate your global business growth and success. You can directly benefit from our team’s expertise around the globe, our mentors’ in-depth experience and knowledge during individual coaching and workshop sessions. Access to our vast global network will allow you to connect with potential customers, business partners, and investors. Free office space in our innovation hubs around the world will enable you to hit the ground running while focusing on the most important decisions. Our programs are highly customized to each participants’ individual needs in order to help you enter international markets and succeed quickly.

What are German Accelerator’s success stories?

More than 250 companies have graduated from our German Accelerator programs so far. See our list of graduates here. Many of our participating companies from all kinds of industries have had tremendous success since graduating from our German Accelerator programs. Two examples are German unicorns Celonis and N26, and many other industry leaders and challengers. Read their success stories here.

How does the program differ from Y Combinator, Techstars, and other Accelerators?

Unlike most other programs, German Accelerator doesn’t take any equity or fees. Our program is completely free to accepted companies from all sectors. In addition, and as you can probably tell from our official name, we focus our support specifically on the needs of German startups. Similar to other top global accelerators, our experienced experts will work closely with founders and executives to develop the foundations for fast growth, scalable and repeatable marketing and sales processes, and fundraising strategies.

Which program is the right one for me?

Choosing the right program and location is a very individual decision. Think about the market you want to enter, the opportunities you see there, the current consumer trends and business landscape. This is a good starting point for your decision on whether one of our U.S. programs suits your needs or the program in Southeast Asia makes sense for you.

For life sciences companies, we recommend our dedicated Life Sciences program in Boston because we have specified experts there that support you in clinical research, reimbursement, and a variety of other related topics. The choice is harder when you want to expand to the U.S. and have to decide between New York and Silicon Valley. It’s important to consider what kind of resources you are looking for.

  1. Where are the majority of your potential customers or partners located?
  2. Where are your potential acquisition resources etc.?
  3. Are there any competitors around already? Where are your competitors based?

Another approach can also be to check whether we have specific mentors in our portfolio that you would like to work with to gear up your business development. Take a look at our mentors here.

You can find further advice in our blog and please don’t hesitate to contact our company scouts.

How can I best prepare for participation in one of the programs?

For those programs requiring extended stays in the U.S. or Asia:

  • Make yourself redundant to operations in Germany: You need to focus 100% on the new market in order to benefit best from our services. Therefore, we recommend “getting your house in order” in Germany, so you don’t have to do two (or more) jobs at once.
  • Think about the goals you want to achieve during the time in the program and create a vision for yourself and your team.
  • Plan your visit in advance and do your homework. You can schedule meetings with potential customers, investors, and partners before arriving on the ground. You don’t have to be on the ground to do some research on events that may be interesting.
  • Our experience has shown that open-minded, motivated companies who are hungry to learn, open to speaking with as many people as possible, and who embrace upcoming challenges will be the most successful.
  • Set up any logistical basics such as accommodation, bank account, insurance, etc. in advance to save time during the program. This helps you to really focus on your business and to get the most out of your time on the ground. Our local teams are always happy to support you or provide further information before you arrive in the respective location. Make sure you leverage the official preparation calls and ask all the questions you have. Don’t hold back, we’re there to help!

For our Life Science program, the length of time you are required to be in the U.S. depends on your individual goals and will be discussed with the Boston team.

What should I consider while participating in the program?

  • Align crucial decisions with your co-founders or C-Team and keep them in the loop about strategy, progress, and also challenges on the ground.
  • Stay in touch with your German team. It’s essential to have frequent calls and check-ins not only with your co-founders but also with the team in order to keep them updated on the progress in terms of expansion, and make the expansion experience a little tangible to those who stay in Germany.
  • Yes, you need to check in with your teams and, yes, you are important for the business in Germany, but don’t forget to sleep 🙂

What do I need to know about working with the mentors?

Our mentor network consists of experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts, and leading individuals in the respective foreign market. Our mentor list is growing continuously. They will evaluate what your company needs in order to be successful in a new market, support you in developing a strategy, and work closely together with you on the ground. Based on your company’s needs, we will match you with one lead mentor who has relevant experience and a network in your industry. In addition, we have various experts on many different topics in our pool of mentors and coaches, who you can meet in focused workshops but also in dedicated 1-2-1 sessions. Feel free to check out our mentor database, and filter based on expertise and location to find mentors that are most relevant to you.

Our mentors will give you access to a vast global network consisting of many different people including potential partners, clients, investors, and experts. Based on your individual needs, our mentors will introduce you to the right people at the right time.

What can I expect from a mentor?

Our mentors are true experts in their field. They will do their best to guide and advise you on how to make your expansion most successful. They will challenge your business concept, product-market-fit, customer approach, and they might even shake a few things up here and there, and help you look at things from different angles. Spend as much time as possible with the mentors and coaches, challenge them to challenge you because in the end, it is up to you to learn and grow fast, and make the most out of your time abroad. You are in the driver’s seat and you are the decision maker for your own business success.

Will the mentors introduce me to potential clients and investors in their network?

Our vast global network consists of many different people including potential partners, clients, and investors. Based on your individual needs, our mentors will introduce you to their contacts once your company is ready to gain real experience in business conversations in a foreign market. If you need further help with your fundraising strategy or customer approach, they can provide guidance and help, too, and will help get you ready.

Will I get help to build my local team? Will the mentors be able to introduce the right talent from their personal networks?

We have mentors who are experts in all kinds of fields, including recruiting. They are generally happy to make introductions and give advice when it comes to operational business activities, but you will have to take care of the actual implementation. When it comes to recruiting, we are always happy to spread to word about vacancies within our German Accelerator networks and see if we know someone who would be suitable for one of our startups, but we're not further involved in the recruitment process.

Can I stay in touch with you even after the program has ended?

We love keeping our alumni close and hearing from them. After graduating, you will become part of our active German Accelerator Alumni Network and Community that supports each other with ongoing knowledge, support and info exchange. Your fellow graduates, your mentors and the German Accelerator team will remain close to you and your company. We will keep promoting your development and successes, will also invite you to German Accelerator events in Germany and in the location.

We also have a German Accelerator Ambassador Program in place, in order to help other startups learn more about their international expansion opportunities, and hear from participants directly. In this program, we work closely together with selected alumni that will share their experiences and insights of their participation in our webinars, at events, and during workshops.

Program Administration
How long is the program?

The duration differs according to the program you select:

Silicon Valley: The program lasts three months, with an intensive boot camp week in the beginning.

New York: The program lasts three months. Afterwards, you can apply for a three-month program extension based on your performance and potential.

Life Sciences: The Prep program is three to four months in duration, and the Access program is seven to nine months.

Southeast Asia: The program runs for five months, with an intensive boot camp in the first three weeks of the program in Singapore.

JumpStart: All JumpStart Classes last four weeks.

Do I have to be present on the ground throughout the entire duration of the program?

The answer differs according to the chosen program track.

Silicon Valley, New York, Southeast Asia: Yes, to get the most out of the program, you are required to spend at least 75% of the program duration on location. We are committed to making the program a valuable experience for your company and we expect the same level of commitment from you.

Life Sciences: Our program participants will come to Boston for an initial Deep-Dive meeting, but a large majority of the program work is done remotely.

JumpStart: In order to get the most out of our four-week JumpStart program, a founder has to spend 100% of the time on the ground in Silicon Valley and needs to show full commitment.

How much time do I need to commit to the program?

We are committed to making the program a valuable experience for your company and we expect the same level of commitment from you. That doesn't mean that you'll be sitting in the office with us 24/7, but you must fully embrace the resources provided: meeting with mentors, participating in events, attending workshops designed to support your local network building, etc. All the while, working towards the milestones that were set for each phase of the program.

In practice, you will need to dedicate quite a lot of time to develop your business in the field, such as doing market research to validate your business model, meeting your potential partners, and other regular business operations.

In addition, New York, Silicon Valley, and Southeast Asia programs begin with an intensive boot camp during which we always expect full attendance (ideally by one of your founders or a C-Team member).

Overall, you are required to spend at least 75% of the program duration on location.

Life Sciences: Our program participants will come to Boston for an initial Deep-Dive meeting, and up to two workshops (based off the determined work streams) but a large majority of the program work is done remotely.

What do you expect from my company? (Is there a code of conduct?)

Our programs are free of charge and we don’t take any equity from our program participants. There are no strings attached. However, we expect our companies to become an active part of our community for their own advantage. The more present, committed, and engaged you are during the program, the greater will be the outcome for your company in the end. Furthermore, we will occasionally ask you for feedback to help us in improving our programs and services and require your input and insights to do so. We are committed to making the program a valuable experience for your company and we expect the same level of commitment from you.

Which team member should attend?

At least one of the founders or C-level Executives is required to attend the program and spend at least 75% of the program duration on location. However, we recommend that at least two people participate in the program, including one with significant business background and expertise.

Life Sciences: Our program participants will come to Boston for an initial Deep-Dive meeting, and up to two workshops (based off the determined work streams) but a large majority of the program work is done remotely.

Will you help me with visa/immigration issues?

We are happy to support your visa application with a letter of recommendation. However, as visa/immigration issues can vary according to your personal situation, we recommend that you obtain expert advice and/or contact the U.S. or Singaporean embassy. We can also connect you to visa lawyers if necessary.

Southeast Asia: As a Startup SG EntrePass Partner organization, applications for program participants, under specific terms, will be prioritized. Entrepass allows you to stay for one year to set up your company in Singapore.

Will German Accelerator pay for my flight and accommodation? Where will I live during participation?

All program services, including mentoring and office space will be provided by German Accelerator and free to participating companies. However, you are responsible for associated costs, such as travel, accommodation, and cost of living. However, we can provide relevant housing information and our local team members will provide a list with research can give you recommendations. We will also provide a Starter Kit with helpful information on housing options and resources.

Do you provide housing for your program participants?

No, we don’t provide any accommodation for program participants. However, our local team will provide a list with recommendations. We will also provide a Starter Kit with helpful information on housing options and resources.

Who is behind the program and why are you doing this?

We are a team of successful entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors who truly enjoy helping German startups become global category leaders. Our program is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), based on a decision by the German Bundestag. It is their belief that investing in startups is directly investing in innovation to the benefit of the German economy.

Where are the German Accelerator offices located?

Silicon Valley: At our Silicon Valley location we offer our participants two offices to work out of, in order to reduce commuting times (Silicon Valley is very spread out!) and give access to both the “traditional” Silicon Valley with our Sunnyvale office, and the more recently grown San Francisco “city scene”. Both offices are located in vibrant coworking spaces with many startups around, as well as neighbors such as Uber, Twitter, and Google. You can freely choose whichever office is more convenient for you. All JumpStart lectures take place in the Sunnyvale office.

Southeast Asia: The program will primarily include office space in Singapore’s vibrant home for startups and enablers, JTC Launchpad. Should you require to work in other Southeast Asian markets for a short period as part of the program, please let the team know and we will check with our network of regional partners for possible office space arrangements.

New York: Our New York City office is located in the heart of SoHo, New York, in a creative shared working space called Cubico. Located on the corner of Broadway and Howard Street, you have access to multiple subway lines and can easily get from A to B.

Life Sciences (Boston/Cambridge): Our office is located at Kendall Square in Cambridge, the heart of the world’s leading life sciences innovation cluster. We sit within a shared office space at the Cambridge Innovation Center and are proud to be a part of what is considered to be the most innovative square mile on the planet.

No matter which location you choose, all offices are equipped with desks, chairs, printer, scanner, wifi, conference rooms, phone booths, and kitchen access. Please be aware that in most of our locations, space is more limited (and more expensive!) than it is in Germany, therefore please be prepared to share a desk with your fellow program participants and work closely together (both figuratively and literally ;-)).

Can I stop by your office to say hello?

Yes, please stop by to say hi and introduce yourself and find out more about the program, especially if you are bringing German chocolate. Be sure to reach out and let us know in advance. We certainly don’t want to miss you! You can find all contact information here.

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