How to Find the Right Startup Accelerator for an International Expansion

Written by German Accelerator
So you’ve decided to join a startup accelerator program, but what comes next?  

Now you have to determine which startup accelerator suits your business best. With so many accelerators to choose from – and with each program offering a different agenda, focus, and time commitment – it’s not often an easy decision. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to find the right business accelerator for your German startup by looking at the different criteria and trade-offs of each type of program. From there, choosing the best one for your team should be much simpler. 


How to Find the Right Accelerator for Your German Startup 

The first step to finding the right startup accelerator is identifying your goals. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the program:  

  • Do you need to improve your elevator pitch?  
  • Do you need help finding product-market fit?
  • Do you want to scale in your home market? 
  • Or do you want to expand your startup overseas? 

Asking these questions about your startup will help you sort out which accelerator programs are the right fit – and which aren’t. 

Once you’ve clearly identified your goals, your next step is research. It’s important to take your time and not rush this process. Don’t settle for just the first startup accelerator you run across. Make sure you know what the startup accelerator costs (if anything), what their focus is, what markets they cover, what industries they work with, and what business mentors are in their network. 

Since most startup accelerator programs are heavily dependent on mentors, look carefully at their network of startup mentors and business coaches before you decide which program is right for you. Especially if your German startup is considering internationalization, make sure the mentors are experts in the local market you want to expand to. 

In some cases, your company may have to pay fees or equity to participate in a startup accelerator program. However, that’s not always true. There are some free startup programs out there that you can take advantage of. German Accelerator is one of the few existing accelerators that does not take fees or equity since it is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).  

Finally, look for numbers – specifically when it comes to credibility and success stories. Carefully search for numbers of how many startups have participated in their programs and how many partners (and which partners) they’re working with. If there are case studies or success stories of startups that participated in the program, you’ll have a good sense of whether or not it’s the right startup accelerator for you. 


Learn how to find the right startup accelerator to help your startup with an international expansion

The Benefits of Expanding Abroad with a Startup Accelerator 

One of the benefits of joining a startup accelerator is that it can help your startup expand abroad, especially if the accelerator has a global network and presence.  

When your startup joins an accelerator for an international expansion, you don’t have to start from zero because the program has already accompanied many other startups down the same path. At German Accelerator, we have a large pool of local mentors who know the respective market dynamics and business culture, and who are well-connected in the regional innovation ecosystem.

The other major consideration for joining a startup accelerator as part of an overseas expansion is which markets the program covers. Some programs will help you expand anywhere but have no depth of insights or introductions in a given local market, so make sure your program has experience with the market you have in mind.  

The right program will demonstrate their expertise in the national or regional market and have the mentors to show for it. For example, German Accelerator covers markets worldwide, including the U.S. market, South American markets, and the majority of Asian markets.  

When you’ve found the right startup accelerator for your overseas expansion, you can leverage their expertise and resources to accelerate your startup’s growth and success abroad.  


Startup Accelerators vs. Angel Investors for an International Expansion

Many German startup founders wonder if it’s better to expand with the help of an accelerator program or with an angel investor.  

On the one hand, angel investors provide more flexibility over terms and conditions, so your startup might have more autonomy and independence in running the business. On the other hand, accelerators often offer more structured and intensive support, but may also impose more restrictions and expectations on the startups in their programs. 

When it comes to an international expansion, angel investors may not provide enough guidance or support to startup founders in a foreign market. Of course, angel investors also require a large equity stake in the business, so they will also have different expectations and agendas for what an overseas expansion is supposed to achieve.

Meanwhile, a startup accelerator helps you test your product or service with real customers in your target overseas market and get feedback on how to optimize product-market-fit. A robust accelerator should teach you about market research, customer acquisition, pricing strategies, legal compliance, cross-cultural communication, and more. You also learn from other startups in your cohort who have successfully launched or scaled in the same market and avoid common pitfalls. 

For an international expansion, a startup accelerator allows you to benefit from the accelerator’s network of alumni, mentors, and partners who can offer support and further business opportunities. 


What Makes German Accelerator Different? 

As a startup accelerator specifically for German founders, German Accelerator is different than other programs in a few ways, including: 

  • No strings attached: We don’t take equity or shares from our participating startups. 
  • No (or minimal) fees: Most of our programs are completely free. Only our Market Discovery programs include a small fee. We’re funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). 
  • Global network: German Accelerator is always expanding and enriching our network of startup mentors around the globe, including those in specialized disciplines, niche markets, and growing industries. Our mentors know the local market dynamics and are well-connected in their respective geographies. 
  • Guidance on markets and programs: Startup founders get advice from the German Accelerator team on which markets might be the best fit for them. We help startups identify opportunities that they might not have seen themselves, and they can participate in multiple programs. 
  • Ongoing support: After graduating from the program, your startup becomes a part of our well-networked community and a part of the global innovation ecosystem. 

If you’re interested, find out more about our programs to help German startups expand internationally. 



Finding the right accelerator for your startup is not an easy task. Of course, not all startup accelerators are created equal so you should always research their track record, curriculum, mentors, alumni, and terms before applying.  

And when you find the startup accelerator that fits you perfectly? Then don’t wait to dive in and get started.