Accelerating around the World

Our Experience with the German Accelerator

Since 2011, the German Accelerator has supported German startups with their international expansion. And it feels like our founder Martin has also been participating in their programs since then. We talked to him about his experience with the German Accelerator.

Martin and the friends he made during German Accelerator

Martin, you just started into another German Accelerator Program. How many programs have you already participated in, including this one?
This is the fifth German Accelerator program for me. I attended three of them with kraftwerk (Martin’s other startup) and two with SQIN.

Wow, that’s a lot! In all the programs, what have been your personal highlights so far?
Definitely the people I was able to meet there, including the mentors and the other startup founders. Of course, accordingly, the networking effects that have resulted. That way, I was able to meet even more people directly on site and benefit directly from their knowledge.
It is also very helpful to understand how the local economic system works. Of course, this is something you learn especially when you are part of it yourself.
Another highlight for me is always the cultural exchange. The best way to do that is to be there and see and understand why a culture is the way it is.

You just mentioned an important point. Due to Covid, the classes only take place remotely. Hence the question: What is better — online or on-site?
Definitely in the country! Sure, it is much easier to be part of the program online. But unfortunately, that’s why you only do it “on the side” and are not fully involved.
In addition, the cultural exchange hardly works if you only do everything from home. It’s all a bit like university: you learn something theoretically, but don’t experience it practically.
Network effects are also greatly diminished and very limited online. Unfortunately (or luckily), even after 1.5 years of pandemic, it’s not the same if you meet on Zoom or for a beer. The depth of the relationship is completely different.
From the in-country programs, really strong friendships have developed and some of the people I met there were even attending my wedding — as groomsmen! In the digital programs, on the other hand, such (real) friendships do not grow.

In other words, there are a lot of advantages to the on-site programs. Nevertheless, you still decide to participate in the German Accelerator again and again. Why?
I collected so many good experiences from the first programs and built up important networks, some of them crucial, that will accompany me throughout my life. These are such positive lessons that I wouldn’t want to miss out on and would like to keep gaining as much as possible.
Also, I would describe myself as a global citizen. The GA programs helped me to experience a real cultural exchange — not as a tourist, but from a business perspective.
One big advantage I see is that — unlike other accelerator programs — the mentors stay on after the program. And you can only build a company successfully with a functioning stakeholder network!
After all, you can always use the knowledge and the network that you build up there for future companies or challenges. You only need to learn how to conquer a country or an ecosystem once.

Martin and Tom Rice (Mentor at the German Accelerator and now shareholder at kraftwerk)

All things considered: What are your most valuable takeaways from all the programs?
1. Go the extra mile! — The program gives you a good base, but you have to build something on it yourself.
2. Other cultures and ecosystems often show you a lot about your home market, too.
3. A trustable and reliable international network is the key to success.

It turns out: Martin is a big fan of the German Accelerator. Therefore, we can only recommend every founder to take this step and participate in one of the programs!

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