Who are you? And what's your role at Berlin Startup School? My name is Matthieu and I am the Program Director of the Accelerator. In this role, I am taking care of the new startups joining our program. I will guide them through the 6-month program as a lead coach.
To begin with, please explain what the difference between an incubator and an accelerator is?
An incubator is more for early-phase startups. Imagine having a baby in an incubator that provides an environment to keep it alive, and give it an 'incubation' time to strengthen and grow. In the incubator, you have an idea, and also maybe some test clients and trials which prepare you for the acceleration process. The accelerator takes it a step further. That's the main difference between an incubator and an accelerator.
So then to join the Accelerator by Berlin Startup School, the idea should be in a more advanced state than merely a draft on a paper?
Yes, exactly. You should have an MVP ('Minimum Viable Product')/ prototype/ mock-up, or something else that shows what you want to build. You should also have spoken to your potential customers to validate your hypothesis. It's important to know if and how your product brings value to the market.
There are a bunch of accelerators out there. One could go anywhere, why should they join the Accelerator by Berlin Startup School? I think what describes us the best is that we are purpose-driven. It comes down to the people-oriented and -related aspect. We are a small family that cares about each other. It's not just about joining an accelerator, getting the money, and then leaving after six months; it's more than that. Of course, in the end, we love to see success stories, but we are supporting each startup from a very individual perspective. That means listening to their needs, helping, guiding and supporting along the way.
What also differentiates us is that we are not specified or focused on a particular field. So, for example, there are deep tech accelerators, health accelerators, sustainability incubators - you name it. Thanks to our broad network, we are open to all kinds of ideas that somehow make this world a better place.
We think that peer learning is one of the best things to do, and that's why we encourage our teams to learn from one another as much as they can, regardless of the field. Although the role of the coach is necessary and needed, peer learning might be even better in some cases because you can learn from your fellow founders in a more relatable way than you could from a coach.
Another important criterion is that your company shouldn't be founded yet or not have been founded more than 3 months ago. Then, from a more practical side, you need a short video of 60 seconds explaining shortly who you are and what your idea is, as well as a pitch deck. And last but not least, you need to fill in the application form. That means there are no additional documents or unnecessary bureaucracy. From there, we will have the first auditing and then we'll do a shortlist. If your idea gets shortlisted, we'll invite you to pitch day.
And from there, the jury is going to decide who will get to be in the Accelerator? Yes, exactly. We want to have at least 12 to 15 teams pitching on the pitch day. And after that, the jury will go into the decision-making process. We take up to five teams in each batch of the Accelerator.
What happens if you get accepted to the Accelerator? What can be expected from those six months?
You'll be in a nice location in the heart of Berlin near the central station in our nice co-working space. You can expect a collaborative assessment procedure (Balance Scorecard) for mapping your strengths and weaknesses. Based on that, we'll create individual programs with a roadmap including the milestones. Additionally, we'll be doing the team canvas exercise. This means distributing the roles within the team, UX testing, creating a funding strategy, and much more. As a founder, you are granted a monthly salary, support and guidance both internally and externally. You can also expect to be surrounded by nice people, of course!
What should the next step be for those who want to join the Accelerator by Berlin Startup School? Just go to our webpage. You can find all the necessary information there to apply for the Accelerator. The deadline is May 2nd at midnight. ℹ️Want to hear more about our Accelerator? Attend our Last Minute info session (including Q&A) on April 27th at 5 pm.