← Techstars Blog

Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. To do this, we work with forward-thinking partners around the world to create unfair advantages for our founders.

METRO, one of the largest international food wholesalers, has been catering to hospitality businesses since its foundation over 50 years ago, and serves as a partner to founders to help innovate in the hospitality and retail industries.

A few years ago, METRO realized that in order to succeed in the future its key customer group, restaurants and hotels, had to increase their adoption of digital technology.

At the same time, numerous tech startups that see the opportunity are trying to offer solutions that could ease the life of the restaurant owner, improve customer experience, grow the business and so on.

METRO thought of bridging the two and giving startups an unfair advantage through access to its network and its customer base.

METRO CEO Olaf Koch was in New York in 2014 when he received an invitation to attend a Techstars and RGA Demo Day. Olaf’s plan was to only stay for 30 minutes, but he ended up staying much longer. The time Olaf spent at that Demo Day inspired him to do something similar to help progress METRO’s customers’ digital transformation.

In 2015, Techstars and METRO came together to launch the first hospitality focused accelerator in Berlin.

After 2 successful iterations of the program and 21 companies later, we’ve launched an additional accelerator program with METRO in Berlin, this time focused on Retail. Applications for that program have recently closed and the program commences on June 12th. But applications for the next METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars, are now open, you can apply here.

By the end of 2017, we will have invested in 40+ startups in the hospitality and retail space.

How can a corporate accelerator add value to entrepreneurs?

To provide the best resources for our founders, we work with the best partners to help achieve success. Here’s what we’ve learned about how an accelerator programs with a corporate partner adds value to founders:

Mentoring & Network

Corporate executives tend to have a very in depth understanding of their customers’ needs. They have a global view of these problems and can give both insights and offer to make introductions to founders.

Social Proof

Being heavily associated with a trusted household brand name like a corporate partner brings a certain amount of comfort to new customers. If a company like METRO trusts your startup, then others can, too. It can enhance a startup’s profile and build trust with your customers.

Lead Generation 

Corporate partners can function as a distribution channel for a startup’s product. METRO, for example, operates a digital salesforce that markets digital products to restaurants and hotels. This salesforce can distribute products to paying customers via a METRO pilot program in one of five cities: Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Milan or Barcelona.

We caught up with a few companies from past programs to hear directly about their experience and what they learned from working with corporate partners:

“The METRO Accelerator, powered by Techstars, stood out from other programs because of METRO’s board level commitment. We enjoyed one to one access to CEO Olaf Koch and his direct reports throughout the 3 months of the program, a privileged position to gain business and insights into the HoReCa and retail markets. Best of all, the collaboration continues after the accelerator.”

– Adrian Maseda, Co-founder, Cheerfy

“If you combine Techstars’ business excellence, their startup knowledge, and their huge network of mentors and investors with the industry experience and direct customer access of METRO, great things can happen. We experienced an intensive and challenging three months with hands-on support from the CEO down to each sales representative, gained deep insights to our industry and even continued the cooperation with METRO in various projects beyond the accelerator. We truly wouldn’t be where we are today without this experience, and highly recommend applying for a program like this.”

– Jan Saupe, CEO & Co-Founder of Lunchio

If your hospitality tech company is ready, check out the next METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars, starting in September. You can apply here.


Jens Lapinski
Managing Director of the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars. Before Techstars, Jens was a partner at Forward Labs, which he co-founded in January 2012. http://jenslapinski.com @jenslapinski