TechStars comes to Berlin – and no not need to fear the “Competition”

As TechCrunch lets us know (as well as the personal blog* of Managing Director Jens Lapinski), TechStars is coming to Berlin in June. In this context, Mike Butcher shows off his knowledge of the local ecosystem with an extensive (and almost error-free) list of other accelerators in Berlin:

There is hub:raum Berlin, Microsoft Ventures accelerators, Axel Springer Plug&Play Accelerator, Startupbootcamp Berlin, Berlin Startup Academy, MakeAStartup, YouIsNow, Founderslink, Wayra Berlin, FoundFair, Betahaus, V-Check, Founders Institute Berlin and probably more.

And then, to emphasize the point, he closes with:

TechStars Berlin enters crowded market, so it will be interesting to see if they can bring anything new to the party.

However, actually, it’s pretty obvious that TechStars has nothing to “fear” in Berlin. I will tell you why. (Even though it is obvious.)

* He’s got a great taste for blog themes, I think. 😉

Money Talks, Bullshit Walks

TechStars provides a maximum of $118.000 in funding, for a maximum of 10% of equity. How many accelerators in Berlin provide six-digit funding, for 10% or less? (No, follow-on funding by other investors does not count. Plus, that usually goes beyond 10% in total then, in Berlin.)

Hmmm. Difficult question, right? Rough estimate: 0 – Zero – None.

Pretty compelling argument that sets them apart from the competition, if you ask me. But wait… There’s more!

The International

If you want help with NOT getting stuck eating Sauerkraut and Bratwurst for the next few years of your (entrepreneurial) life, in terms of the potential investors and customers you get to talk to, you can immediately forget about half of the accelerators  in Berlin. They do not give you a significant advantage in making connections to people outside of the DACH region. At least not beyond employees of the corporate(s) that sponsor(s) the accelerator. (I will not name any names.)

With TechStars as a (fairly reputable) international player, you can naturally be somewhat more optimistic about getting an advantage, at least about getting access to the US and UK markets.

Same, Same

If you list everyone that is (or was) a mentor at an accelerator in Berlin, you get a very long list. ²

If you list everyone that is (or was) a mentor at ONLY ONE accelerator in Berlin, you get a considerably shorter list.

What I’m saying is that basically the mentors at TechStars Berlin, at least the ones that are regularly around, will probably not be completely unfamiliar faces. Just guessing (at least apart from the list Jens published and a Facebook post by Olga Steidl, in which she mentioned that she will be mentor, too). Would be surprised if it is different. Maybe this will trigger mentor-exclusivity-non-compete-agreements (MENCAs)³ now and what I said will be completely untrue though. Maybe.

In any case, it’s probably safe to say that in many other aspects, TechStars will be an accelerator program that is somewhat similar to the other programs around. After all, everyone just tries to emulate (the success of) Y-Combinator anyways, right?


² Some (evil) people say that anyone can be a mentor in Berlin. I can verify that this is completely untrue: I’m not a mentor – because I don’t know WTF I am talking about, of course.

³ I just made that up.