Introducing the Inaugural 2015 Berlin Class

We are thrilled to announce the 2015 Techstars class in Berlin.  Our session begins June 15th, and will wrap up with a demo day on September 10th.

This is the inaugural class in Berlin. Eighty-five per cent of our applications were from Europe and the class reflects this, with the companies hailing from Germany (3), Austria (1), UK (2), Ukraine (1), Israel (2) and Peru (1).

Of the ten companies, six have a B2B focus, typically with a software or infrastructure-as-a-service business model, and four companies operate marketplaces where consumer can book services.

And now, the Techstars Berlin Summer 2015 class:

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Preply is a fast growing European marketplace for tutoring. With over 10,000 tutors and 18% month­on­month revenue growth, the team is now scaling their product to new markets.

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Akdemia is a school management and communication tool. With over 14.000 students already on board, our vision is to redefine school operations worldwide, starting with developing markets.

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Sidestage is building the global platform for booking musicians.

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AppInside is a mobile app security company from Israel. Appinside scans for vulnerabilities that can lead to malicious abuse, cloned apps and security threats. During the program AppInside has raised seed funding of $2.3M from Accomplice (FKA Atlas Venture) who invests in tech entrepreneurs and creates companies at the earliest stages.

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DATAPATH.IO provides network performance management solutions to DevOps. We have created a novel and lightning fast service to deliver data from clouds to users, so apps run smoothly. We provide a selection of the fattest pipes of the internet, a flexible API and the ability to monitor and optimize end user performance.

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treev is shared space for teamwork. Without worrying about permissions, people can organise, share and search files, documents and links from multiple sources (e.g. Dropbox, Salesforce, Gmail and Trello). This helps teams to find stuff quickly, onboard new people easily and document knowledge without extra work.

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Jibjib is a fast and cheap way to send money into and out of Iran.

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Eversport is a sports booking platform with over 160 venues and 15.000 users. Our special sauce is the Eversport API which can integrate our booking solution with any venue regardless of legacy admin system.

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Avemus makes enterprise management software for agricultural cooperatives in emerging markets. There are more than 1.2 million cooperatives that generate in excess of $594 billion. We enable them to optimize their operations by means of tools for information sharing, notifications, reporting and more.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 3.11.56 PM Stagelink, the fan­-powered tour promoter, crowdsources live events for Internet stars, leveraging millions of online followers to create successful shows and tours for 21st century artists.

Announcing Techstars Berlin

Today Techstars is announcing a new program in Berlin that will kick off in Summer 2015 and I’m excited to officially come on board as the Managing Director.

Applications open today, with a program start date in June and Demo Day in September. The program will run like other Techstars city programs in Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Cloud (San Antonio), London, New York City, and Seattle.

My full profile can be found here but I have been mentoring at Techstars (and its London precursor program Springboard) for many years. When I told Techstars I wouldn’t be able to mentor going forward as I was moving to Germany, I was asked whether I would be interested in opening up a Berlin program. I then spent the next six months working with Techstars in London and at the same time met 50-100 Berlin based entrepreneurs and investors. What I found really excited me:

  • Over the last ten years or so, many new tech startups have sprung up in Berlin. Rocket Internet, Zalando, and Delivery Hero, each valued at $1BN+ are headquartered in Berlin. According to an analysis by Ciaran O’Leary of Earlybird, there are now a similar number of $10m+ financing rounds in Berlin as there are in London. And the year-on-year growth rate of such financings is higher in Berlin than London. There is a lot of activity here and I expect much more in the future.
  • Berlin is a city with almost no ‘old’ money. Almost all of the angel investors that are actively investing in Berlin are former Internet entrepreneurs. They have been there and done it. It makes a huge difference when compared to investors in other (German) cities. And there are a lot of them. I think there is more high quality seed capital in Berlin than there are investment opportunities of the same quality. Perfect for entrepreneurs.
  • Berlin is a fantastic place to live and work. The cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in London or New York. The quality of all public services is high. Crime is low. Berlin is a global city with an overwhelming offering of cultural activities. And best of all, everybody speaks English. You can easily live here without ever having to use a word of German.

All of the above makes it easy to attract high quality talent into Berlin and keep it here. All of this at a fraction of the cost of US/UK startup centres. And as Matt Cohler of Benchmark rightly pointed out, startups take centre stage in Berlin.

When I asked the local entrepreneurs and investors whether running a Techstars program in Berlin made sense, two things were pointed out over and over again. First, Techstars has a very strong reputation so we should be able to attract highly quality mentors and companies that will make for a successful program. Second, Techstars has a very strong network of over 3000 people in the US and UK. This is a unique asset that could add significant value to the startups going through the program.

We’ve already built a community of investors and mentors to support the Berlin program and we’re growing the network every day. Here are some sample investor mentors, with many more to be announced in the coming weeks (VC and angel investors, local entrepreneurs, and other key players in the Berlin tech community):

Brad Feld – Managing Director, Foundry Group

Pawel Chudzinski – Managing Partner, Point Nine Capital

Christian Buchenau, Partner, Paua Ventures

Suranag Chandratillake & Rob Moffat – Balderton Capital

Simon Schminke – Earlybird Ventures

David Cohen – Founder & Managing Partner, Techstars

Fabian Heilemann & Lydia Benkö – Partners, Heilemann Ventures

Philipp Hartmann & Tobias Johann – Managing Partners, Rheingau Founders

Benjamin Rohe & Ludwig Preller – Partners, MAS Angel Fund

Christoph Gerlinger – Founder & CEO, German Startups Group

If you are a startup founder and want to apply for the program, please fill in the application form here.

If you want to reach out to me to discuss Techstars Berlin, please email me at

PS: We are looking for a Program Manager to help me run Techstars Berlin. Details of the job can be found here.


Bird mansions and bike hacks – Attend Startup Weekend Berlin, build physical products, and get your hands dirty.

What do lazar cutters, 3D Printers, and digital connectivity have in common? They all make up Maker – a movement representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture.

Berlin is hosting Startup Weekend (SW) for the second time but instead of focusing on Film, the city will be experimenting with Maker. Over the years, organizers in Berlin have witnessed a community forming around people who brew beer in basements, grow vegetables on balconies and build their own 3D printed toys.

SW Maker is perfect for entrepreneurs who need a rapid prototype or for people who love to ‘Do It Yourself’.

It’s the 3D-printers that usually attract people to the event. SW Maker gives attendees the opportunity to use sometimes-complicated equipment so they may learn proper techniques.

“3D printing supporters talk about the economic and efficiency benefits; it can build things faster and easier than competing methods, bring down manufacturing costs and remove the need for large amounts of international shipping.” (

Not only is 3D printing on the brink of revolutionizing the manufacturing industry but people at home can make some pretty amazing things as well. According to Popular Science, there are 10 cool things you can 3D print right now. Below are three (see rest of list here).

Camera and Lens – You can 3-D print a fully-functional SLR camera in 15 hours and for only $30 in parts.


Bike Hacks – If you’re into bike customization, 3-D printing is a goldmine. Here are some highlights: a mount to make a plastic bottle fender, a bike carrying handle (because carrying bikes is awkward), or personalized valve caps.


Bird Mansions – enough said.


Add in a sweet laser cutter and digital connectivity – you got your self a modern day workshop! Take 3D printing even further than just bike hacks and birdhouses, build a toothbrush that sends information about how long people use it, or a fridge that is aware of diminishing nutrients and orders replacements online. How about a car that sends you a text alerting you to its location?

The opportunities are endless. Take everyday objects and make them ‘smarter’ for the consumer, able to collect data, and energy efficient.

Digital giants like Google and Facebook have already started to acquire hardware companies. They work on developing self-driving cars, robots, timesaving gadgets, and more. This integration between online-business and physical hardware gives entrepreneurs the perfect opportunity to disruptive a wide-range of industries.

If you’re in Berlin during the weekend of June 20-23, 2014 attend Startup Weekend Maker. Work with talented people, build physical products and get your hands dirty.


SW Berlin is an official partner of our current project with the European Commission called FI-WARE. This event promotes new cutting-edge technology ideas and prototypes. Just what FI-WARE aims to unleash – FI-WARE is an innovative, open cloud-based infrastructure for cost-effective creation and delivery of Future Internet applications and services, at a scale like no other. Driven by the development of an open source reference implementation and  accelerating the availability of commercial products and services based, FI-WARE API specifications are public and freeWe’re really excited for our community to use their expertise and experience to help test and validate the EC’s FI-WARE developer platform.
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