Where do startups go to grow?

Where do startups go to grow?

Successful startups need more than just a brilliant idea. They need the right connections, timing, resources, expertise and training to make the idea come to life and finding all these resources can be tricky.

Enter the Microsoft Accelerator program.

The Microsoft Accelerator program is designed to support startups by giving them the tools, resources, connections, and knowledge they need to take their great ideas to the next level. The tailor-made program supports later-stage startups who want to go beyond the development of their product by scaling up every aspect of the business. Throughout the program and after graduation, the Microsoft Accelerator acts as a strategic resource and provides clear routes to market via connections to Microsoft’s global network of customers, partners, VCs, business mentors and technical experts. With seven Accelerator locations across the globe, including three within Europe; London, Berlin, and Paris, startups have a number of options to engage in the Accelerator program. And with a new startup being formed every 20 minutes, according to Gruenden, and advisory agency for new companies, the demand for resources and support is high.

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Within Europe, Berlin is a hot spot for startups. Affordable rent prices along with a hip lifestyle are some of the main reasons some people believe Berlin may out-innovate Silicon Valley. For these startups, and many others, the Accelerator program in Berlin can assist them in learning how to stand out from the competition.

We caught up with three startups who recently completed the Accelerator program in Berlin to ask them about their experience. Hear what Linknovate, Datary, and iGroove AG had to say about their time in Berlin, what they learned, and what their next steps are.

Daniel Jadraque, Co-founder and CEO of Datary at the Microsoft Accelerator Berlin Batch5 demo night

Why did you choose the accelerator programme in Berlin vs. other programs in your home country or in other European cities?

Berlin is the European hub city for startups, and the environment here is great! My cofounder and I lived in Palo Alto (CA) for 3 years and Berlin has a different, perhaps more “real” vibe. Silicon Valley feels more like a bubble of tech (and like living in the future), very professionally oriented. Berlin feels like a real city, which happens to have a great community working on the future of internet and tech. We have also considered Tel Aviv.

Apart from this, the obvious fact that Berlin is more friendly (rental, food, events, etc) than London or SF.

-Manuel Noya, Linknovate

What have you learned/key takeaways about running a company since participating in this program?

It’s good to build a solid revenue model which makes your company profitable as soon as possible. A lot of competitors are just looking for the next investment round. If you don’t need any investments, you can invest your time to enhance the service for your costumer instead of spending on acquiring new money.

-Dennis Hausamman, iGroove

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a team in these 3 months and how did you overcome it?

We are still a small team, so having to take care of clients and providers in two different countries has been a challenge for us. Still, nothing that cannot be overcome with a couple of trips and lots of Skype calls.

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

Overcoming cultural differences with big companies in Germany, including Microsoft itself. We overcome it by meeting with more and more German execs and consultants, until we have a better feeling of what they value and what their priorities are.

-Manuel Noya, Linknovate

Manuel Noya, CEO of Linknovate at the Microsoft Accelerator Berlin Batch5 demo night

What was the craziest thing that’s happened to your team in these 3 months? Or can you share any funny stories about your accelerator experience?

There is a special rule while playing kicker that says that if you lose 10-0 you have to crawl under the foosball table. It would be unfair not to dedicate one answer in this interview to the guys who have lost that badly more often: the teams of Linknovate and Flutaro. Kudos guys!

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

A lot of crazy things where going on, but I really enjoyed the network we built in those 3 months. We spoke to a lot of CEO’s from super nice companies which became friends. Berlin already became our second home and it feels like coming home to our friends’ every time when we arrive in Berlin.

–Dennis Hausamman, iGroove

It was great to share spare time and BBQ with other founders. Also playing tournaments of kicker (fussball), it got pretty serious.

-Manuel Noya, Linknovate

What advice would you give to another startup thinking about applying to a MS Accelerator program?

It depends on the startup, but I would say that if a partnership with Microsoft makes sense for their business they should go for it straight away. It is definitely something achievable.

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

It’s up to you how much you benefit from the program. But if you are an entrepreneur this fact is nothing new to you. So prepare yourself with targets you’d like to achieve during the program and think about how Microsoft could support you by doing that.

–Dennis Hausamman, iGroove

Dennis Hausamman, iGroove at the Microsoft Accelerator Berlin Batch5 demo night

What do you wish you had known about the program that you’d like others to know?

The great level of formality expected in most mail conversations with B2B clients in Germany (and to not mess up badly like we did during our first weeks in Berlin) and the crazy amount of public money that is pouring into the ecosystem to help early stage teams to start their startups.

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

What was your perspective on Microsoft before joining the accelerator and has it changed as you’ve gone through the program? If so, how?

During the last years under the direction of the new CEO, Microsoft is taking an interesting change of course. Now that I have a deeper understanding on how the internal hierarchy works, I think that what they are up to and what they have accomplish so far is pretty impressive.

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

What is the next step for you?

We will continue to grow our team by hiring the best talent, and continue to improve our platform following an ambitious roadmap for new data and new visualizations that we all are excited about, Linknovate.com. We’ll also continue to fight for European funding, as it worked quite well for us so far and we have a product that can make an impact for society.

-Manuel Noya, Linknovate

We have exciting times ahead of us: in September we have hired our first full-time employee and are launching the product for our first customers.

-Daniel Jadraque, Datary

We will launch our platform in Germany and after we’ll be getting into some talks with investors.

–Dennis Hausamman, iGroove

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Want to see these startups in action? You can find videos of their pitch from the end of the Accelerator program below. If you would like to learn more, or to apply for a Microsoft Accelerator program, information can be found by visiting their website here.

iGroove is simply the best way to distribute, promote and monetize music! We empower musicians to become their own record label with just a few clicks. Beyond that, we sell music via SMS messages to monetize customers who do not possess a credit card. 

Linknovate looks to finally connect the research and amazing ideas that happen in labs and small companies with those who have the resources and are actively looking for partners to take them to market. These two worlds, especially academia & industry have been traditionally disconnected. Linknovate wants to change this, and have started by providing the best business intelligence tools to companies, and are now giving those small companies and research groups the possibility to showcase what they do.

Datary is a productivity tool for strategic consultants. Its data search engine integrates into existing applications (like Microsoft Excel, SAP, etc.) and enables consultants to easily find data, retrieve it and keep it synchronized, ensuring that whenever new data is published, existing files are kept up-to-date.