5 Questions with Johann Romefort

March 1st, 2020


3-min read

Johann Romefort has been in the tech industry for almost 25 years. He co-founded Seesmic in San Francisco in 2007 (acquired by Hootsuite). After moving to Munich almost 6 years ago he worked as a tech evangelist, organizing 200+ community events and turning the DAHO.AM conference into one of the largest deep tech events in Germany. Johann is now the Managing Director at the BSH Future Home Accelerator Powered by Techstars and a strong believer in the power of #GiveFirst.

01. What are the key elements you look for when sourcing startups for the BSH Future Home Accelerator Powered by Techstars?

We look for companies with a strong fit with our corporate partner at BSH. We defined our vertical as the “Future of Home Living,” thus we are looking for companies improving the experience of living at home either with purely digital solutions like recipe apps or with IoT products. As with every Techstars program we’re looking for Team, Team, Team, Market, Traction, and Idea. Beyond that we like charismatic yet empathetic founders who also have an unfair advantage in their market.

02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD?

Team is key and a strong alignment is necessary! Another key learning acquired during my career is to manage your energy and not your time. A lot of founders jeopardize their mental and physical health, instead prioritizing the success of their company. Having been there and done that myself, I now believe that keeping a good balance is key for success. I also believe more appreciation should be expressed toward your close social network: spouse, family, friends. Maintaining healthy relationships is important. Those are the people helping you to achieve your dreams—when you’re with them give them your undivided attention!

03. What does our partner, BSH, bring to the accelerator?

BSH, as the leader of Home Appliances in Europe, brings very strong mentorship to the program and key opportunities for pilots and potential partnerships. A lot of mentors coming from BSH are very senior people within the organization and are able to give key insights on the market, as well as precious feedback on product and business strategy. During our last program our partner organized workshops and also fun activities like group cooking!

Learn more about how Techstars mentors work: read the Techstars Mentor Manifesto.

04. Describe a situation with a startup founder or team where you felt like you made a difference.

As we know, entrepreneurship is a lonely road. My goal is to provide founders with a trusted person (myself!) they can rely on at any moment. The work I do with them on the business is of course very important, but moreover I like to care on a personal level and provide emotional support.

One Sunday evening a founder called me to share difficulties he was having with his team and how much anxiety this generated for him, to the point where he had trouble sleeping. I helped him to navigate his doubts and coached him about how to have the difficult conversation. The next day he solved the problem, his anxiety disappeared, and he went on to become a much more empathetic leader in his company.

To me it all boils down to saying the hard things, but with love—and this is something I encourage founders to follow as well.

05. What is your favorite thing about the Munich startup scene?

The Munich startup scene has been undergoing an exponential growth during the last five years. I really like that we have the proximity of large corporations and great universities, which all contribute to the development of an healthy startup ecosystem. Munich is the hometown of Deep Tech, including Io, AI, and robotics. A lot of very ambitious companies have been launched in the last few years.

I also love to see the development of the community side of this ecosystem. Nowadays a lot of events are happening on a daily basis, and I’m proud to have modestly participated in building a strong sense of community in the city.

Learn more about Techstars accelerators and see which ones are accepting applications now.

#BSH Future Home Accelerator Powered by Techstars#Managing Director#EMEA#AI & Robotics