December 20, 2021

Look How Far We’ve Come – A Review of 2021 Accomplishments

Written by German Accelerator

​​It’s been a whirlwind of a year here at German Accelerator, but we braved through 2021 with new challenges, new accomplishments, and new beginnings! The wheels have not stopped spinning for us as we continued to cater to the unrelenting interest for international expansion to the U.S. and Asian markets virtually (for now). We have recalled the year and taken a closer look at all our milestones. Read about what we’ve achieved in the virtual world, learn about our new programs and offerings, hear what our startups had to say, and check out our year in numbers.

In 2021, we saw a rise in the number of participants in German Accelerator programs and offerings. Despite still being entirely virtual, we’ve seen 20 classes and a total of 179 startups who have stepped up to address current and urgent challenges in new markets across the globe. Internationalization is still on the radar for many startups, and we can’t wait to empower more entrepreneurs in 2022!

In 2021, 179 startups participated in our programs and offerings to expand to international markets. We've had 20 classes with outstanding German startups, one alumni decacorn, and one alumni unicorn.

Speaking of empowering entrepreneurs, a massive shout out and heartfelt congratulations to Celonis, German Accelerator alumni, for becoming Germany’s first-ever decacorn in July. With a value of over ten billion dollars, Celonis is now the global leader in execution management. The Celonis Execution Management System provides companies with a modern way to run their business processes entirely on data and intelligence. In 2018, they had just become a unicorn, and it’s been an incredible growth journey since then.

We also have another German Accelerator alumni who made us very proud with their achievement of becoming a unicorn this year! In just five years, the Berlin-based freight tech startup Forto grew from seed to unicorn. With their latest $240M round led by SoftBank Group International, they will expand their platform for organizing trade shipments between China and Europe.

Straight From The Horse’s Mouth

We spoke to a few of our participants to understand what made their experience with German Accelerator memorable and worthwhile. According to Christoph Selig, Co-Founder & CCO of Unisphere, the virtual setting at German Accelerator was the best one he has experienced: “The support of the German Accelerator team was great, and the network of highly qualified & motivated mentors has amazed me. So far, it was the best virtual program I have participated in and provided more value than I had initially expected, despite the remote setting!”

One of the best compliments we can get is when startups decide to participate in several of our programs. This was the case for the EdTech startup blink.it. After getting a first taste of internationalization in our Kickstart International Program, they started their expansion journey to the world’s largest economy with our U.S. Market Access Program. The highlight for Konstantin Ristl, Co-Founder and CEO of blink.it, is the German Accelerator mentors: “The exchange of experiences with the mentors, their workshops and, above all, the one-on-one sessions are my personal highlights. I would have never thought that close-knit mentoring would be so impactful, but participating in German Accelerator showed me that it really is!”

Other alumni like Christoph Bonik, Chief Operating Officer of Artisense, appreciated introductions to our vast network: “German Accelerator & the participating mentors have turbocharged our effort to break into Asia and Singapore. The progress and momentum we’ve been able to build over only the past three months would have been next to impossible in that timeframe without their acceleration: Workshops, candid feedback, hands-on support, and introductions to an incredible network.”

What’s New: 2021 In Numbers

We certainly accomplished a lot this year. Besides keeping busy with our already established programs, we broadened our portfolio. Multiple new programs launched successfully, and it calls for some limelight!

World map highlighting German Accelerator office locations and countries in which we offer internationalization programs for startups.

The year started with a big bang when we announced our new Kickstart International Program in March. Since then, we have equipped 71 startups with the knowledge needed to build a global business and have helped them understand why and when they should consider internationalization. In the summer, we were excited to launch our brand new China offering to help German startups explore the world’s second-largest economy for expansion opportunities. In our China Essentials Workshop, 28 startups have learned how to navigate the complex Chinese market. To dive deeper and receive first-hand market insights, support, and partnership opportunities, we subsequently offer our China Market Discovery Program.

We are happy that we were able to onboard over 25 new mentors for our China offerings with expert knowledge in everything from go-to-market strategy, business development, and fundraising to recruiting, governance, and financial regulations. But the Chinese market is not the only one for which we won new mentors. In total, we welcomed 154 new mentors worldwide this year to support startups with the necessary insights, tools, and networks to tap into the 11 countries in which we are present.

While the launch of Kickstart International and the China offerings were definitely highlights for us, we are also proud of two other “firsts”. Since September, we have been helping the first startup enter the Japanese market with our Japan Market Access Program, and in October, we kicked off the first U.S. Market Access Class with a climate tech focus with five startups. One of them is Carbonfuture, a marketplace and platform for trusted, impactful carbon removal credits. Andreas Hoelzl, Co-Founder and Head of U.S. operations at Carbonfuture says: “The U.S. is a key market in fighting climate change and Carbonfuture’s ambition to remove CO2 on a gigaton scale. Through excellent workshops and dedicated mentorship, the German Accelerator program puts us in a prime position to succeed here. The extensive expertise of the large mentor network is unparalleled. We are thrilled and grateful for the opportunity and the ongoing support we are receiving.”

Now we optimistically look forward to the new year and meeting our startups, mentors, and the whole community in person again. We are planning to switch to a hybrid model with both virtual and on-site sessions for some of our programs where the situation allows it.

Startup logo soup of all German Accelerator program participants in the year 2021

A big thank you and a round of applause to all participants from the German Accelerator team. A huge thank you also to our more than 350+ great mentors and experts around the globe. Together, we have successfully finished an exceptional year, and we are grateful for every single journey that we have had the honor and pleasure of having been part of! We will keep cheering for you and watch you #gofargrowfast.

Do you want to start scaling to new markets? Check out our programs.