Lessons Learned, Lessons Shared – Three Years of Corporate Early-Stage Acceleration

A quick New Year’s shoutout to everyone with love and care for early-stage acceleration. 2018 marks year four of our METRO Accelerator powered by Techstars. Since the 2015 launch of our first Techstars program, we are (proudly) looking back across three years of building and running a bona-fide startup development system – a first for METRO, a first for our customers, and a first for the hospitality industry. Not bad!

Since program inception, our joint METRO Techstars team has attracted 40 formidable founders to trust us with their business building. On the way, METRO learned to become a dedicated early-stage investor, a passionate corporate mentor, and a powerful source for commercialization opportunity helping our startups grow.

For the 50+ year old multinational corporation that METRO is, three years of successful early-stage startup development support has been a rather transformative experience. With that – lessons learned, lessons shared – here’s what I believe is key to look out for if you are a founder looking to apply for our (or another) corporate program:

Build Relationships That are More than Transactional

Most corporate mentors you encounter during the program are likely individuals tied to a myriad of internal realities, complexities, and constant change. Tempting as it may be to assume s/he possesses a magic wand, at times it’s not as easy as it seems to unlock the large(r) organization. During the program, better you connect with your corporate mentors beyond your most ad-hoc request (say, to proof-of-concept your solution ‘today’), to create relationships made to get your emails answered, even months post Demo Day.

Learning Goes Both Ways

You may want us to but no, we don’t always know the answer to all your questions. To best deal with that, what good corporate programs (should) do is to help create a ‘safe space’ for mutual learning. As we work jointly through your company’s opportunities and complexities one issue at the time, we found outcomes prove best if everyone comes out smarter than going in. So, do keep challenging us as we will do the same. Let’s be honest. Often, both sides are in uncharted territory. So, let’s get jiggy with it, creating spaces for plenty a-ha and eureka moments enabled equally on both sides.

Ask, Does the Corporate Provide Robust Post-Demo Day Commercialization?

I firmly believe the difference between a good program and a great program is the corporation’s ability to provide commercialization opportunities beyond core 12-week acceleration. Think program-as-a-service versus program-as-a-lab. The former seeks to afford you a more permanent path to new customer acquisitions, following to the biz dev support during the actual program. To be sure – ‘free market’ forces in full swing – no corporate program will actually guarantee you new customer opportunities all the time. Hence, back to my point above, this is why establishing long-term corporatementor relationships is such an important thing.

Be Sure You’re Ready to Run with It                                

How much ‘homework’ is enough before approaching a corporate about piloting your product or service? Hard to say or measure, but we tend to know it when we see it. Above all, be comfortable asking uncomfortable questions in sometimes tricky corporate meetings. Having sat in many pitch sessions, don’t short-sell yet don’t over-hype. No matter what you are building, it’ll likely always be added to or otherwise be ‘under construction’. That is perfectly fine as long as you are honest about your offering’s strengths and weaknesses (to the degree you know of them). In other words, corporates or otherwise, it’s your audience’s trust in your judgement that is equally as important as promoting your product’s intrinsic genius.

Applications are Now Open for the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars

I’m excited to announce that we have opened applications for our second class of the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars in Berlin!

The METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars handpicks the best startups for an intensive three-month program in Berlin, built on the foundation of marked funding and coaching, together with access to investment opportunities. Within the program, startups gain close purpose-driven mentorship from industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs from different verticals of Retail, Tech and Wholesale trade.

The METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars is strategically integrated with unparalleled access to the intellectual capital of METRO, the leading international specialist in wholesale and food retail, alongside FMCG companies such as P&G, serving consumers around the world with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands.

From customer service to collaborative and distributed value added commerce, multi-channel retail is where the action is. We’re seeking out entrepreneurs looking to usher in new era of retail disruption, and startups solving big problems along the entire value chain.

If your business can disrupt or innovate the retail space across any part of the value chain, and you’re looking for access to coaching and mentoring from investors, highly-regarded executives and leaders from the largest companies in Europe, then apply to the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars before the final deadline on Feb 2nd, 2018.

If you apply before Jan 2nd, 2018, we will be able to help give you feedback on your application. To learn more about the upcoming program, attend one of our information sessions or visit our website

Here are the details of what you’ll receive:

  • An offer of €120.000 of investment, in exchange for equity
  • Mentorship from and access to key executives and leaders from METRO, Real, and P&G, alongside other industry partners, venture capitalists, and experienced entrepreneurs
  • Opportunities to pilot solutions with METRO and P&G across Europe
  • Free dedicated working space in the heart of Berlin for the duration of the program
  • Two Demo Days in July 2018, where each founder will present their company to hundreds of investors and corporate leaders
  • The chance to become a member of the METRO and Techstars worldwide network for life

Apply today! 

Key dates

Applications Open


Application Deadline

Feb 2, 2018

Start of the Program

Apr 23, 2018

Demo Day

Jul 12, 2018

Announcing Jag Singh as Managing Director for the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars

What do you think the retail end-to-end experience will look like in five or ten years from now? For thousands of years, retail was structured and devised around very specific locations.

In other words, buyers & sellers physically coalesced around specific places. Then came the Internet, and incrementally overturned it all. It’s rewritten the rules of the €23 trillion global retail industry. Mobile connectivity means today’s retail sector is constantly being upended by a world of boundless anticipation and logistical possibility. The retail of tomorrow, will be something completely different.

I am thrilled to join the Techstars family in Berlin, as Managing Director for the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars. Alongside METRO, the leading international specialist in wholesale and food retail, we’ll be working with startups to innovate across the entire retail value chain. It’s a great time to be involved in this industry. The dynamics are playing out in such a way that consumers are placed in an unprecedented position of power and authority, whilst retailers are accelerating the pace of their own innovation and transformation.

The METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars program will empower entrepreneurs to scale-up their solutions, and access networks curated by both Techstars and METRO AG along with selected partners.

It’s also a fascinating time to be in Berlin. Having four Techstars programs in small city means that we’re strengthening the startup ecosystem for the founders of the future. Together with the MDs of the three other Techstars programs (METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars, Techstars Berlin, and SAP.iO Foundry, Powered by Techstars Accelerator), we’re firmly rooting ourselves within the entrepreneurial DNA of Berlin, living the #GiveFirst mantra every day.

Simon Anholt’s Nation Brands Index, a study of 50 countries, has just named Germany as the country with the best “brand image” – though this isn’t exactly news to Berliners. The BBC World Service in 2013 also found that Germany came tops in its Country Ratings Poll. It ranked countries not just according to the usual factors like prosperity and stability, but also based on a global survey that asked which countries contributed the most to the world we live in.

We’ll be searching all over the world for companies who share this vision, and have exciting and scalable ideas for innovation in the retail sector. The call for startups to join the 2018 class will go out soon when we formally announce program timelines, so stay tuned for further updates.

Demo Day: Techstars METRO Retail (Berlin)

Announcing the METRO Accelerator for Retail powered by Techstars Class of 2017

We are excited to announce the nine companies that will be joining Techstars for our 2017 METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars in Berlin. We kick things off this week and are looking forward to three months of awesomeness, capped off by Demo Day on September 5th.

Techstars is a Worldwide Network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re fortunate to have METRO as an incredible corporate partner and a great number of amazing mentors joining. We’re grateful for your support over the last couple of years and your continued time and guidance. We love this city and know that 2017 is going to be an amazing year for both METRO, Techstars and Berlin.

Introducing the METRO Accelerator for Retail, Powered by Techstars Class of 2017:

Epinium: Real time aggregation of product reviews for online and offline stores to optimize pricing

IamBot: Ubiquitous shopping experience using ChatBots & image recognition to buy at your fingertip

JustSnap: Receipt based analysis and gamified loyalty at the fingertip of the user through an app

Kptn Cook: High customer retention through curated recipes for foodie-community to purchase ingredients at offline retail

Mio Mobile: UBER for around-the-block delivery of products using autonomous robots and navigation technology

Oriient: Use the magnetic field of the earth to integrate with multiple indoor positioning solutions

Sensei: In-store analytics for consumer behavior and store optimization using existing technology

Sensefinity: Remotely programmable IoT devices and data aggregation to monitor goods, logistics and security of objects

Whole Surplus: Minimizing food-waste related costs for retailers through a b2b solution integrating food-donations

Meetup: Techstars METRO Retail (Warsaw)

Who: Startups looking to apply to METRO Accelerator for Retail, powered by Techstars

What: Hear from our team and meet with others from the local startup community.

When: Thursday, March 2

Where: Warsaw

Details: Click here to register for the event!

Office Hours: Techstars METRO Retail (Warsaw)

Who: Startups looking to apply to METRO Accelerator for Retail, powered by Techstars

What: Office hours

When: Thursday, March 2

Where: Warsaw

Details: Click here to register for the event!

Live Webinar: METRO Accelerator for Retail (Online)

Online introduction about the program from our Managing Director and Program Manager for 30 minutes, and you’ll get a chance to ask questions directly!

Office Hours: Techstars METRO Retail (Prague)

Who: Startups looking to apply to METRO Accelerator for Retail, powered by Techstars

What: Office Hours + Dinner

When: Tuesday, Feb 28

Where: Prague

Details: Click here to register for office hours!

Webinar: Techstars METRO Retail (Online)

Who: Startups looking to apply to METRO Accelerator for Retail, powered by Techstars

What: Webinar

When: Tuesday, Feb 28

Where: Online

Details: Click here to register for the webinar!