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Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2017

  • Text
  • Berlin
  • Digital
  • Startup
  • Startups
  • Digitization
  • Mobility
  • Innovation
  • Innovative

DISCUSSION DOPING FOR

DISCUSSION DOPING FOR STARTUPS The METRO Accelerator powered by Tech - stars in Berlin fosters innovation gene rated by startups for the retail sector and foodservice industry Accelerators provide a form of legal doping for newly founded companies: indeed, with the help of financial injections, office space, mentoring and professional training, startups are freed up to focus entirely on their business models. In Berlin, the METRO Accelerator helps teams of international founders working on the digitization of the retail sector and foodservice industry. Dr. Alexander Zumdieck talks to Berlin to go about why METRO launched its own growth accelerator in 2015. As managing director of METRO Accelerator, he describes what awaits the chosen startups during their three months in Berlin and illustrates the role played by digitization in the restaurants of tomorrow. STARTUPS ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE AUDI- ENCES OF THEIR BUSINESS IDEA IN A BRIEF AND CONCISE PRESENTATION CALLED AN ELEVATOR PITCH. HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THE METRO ACCELERATOR IN ONLY A FEW WORDS? Dr. Alexander Zumdieck: The METRO Accelerator is a startup program launched by the German wholesale and food specialist METRO. Twice a year, we invite ten young companies to participate in a three-month program in Berlin. The accelerator supports them in further developing their digital innovations for the retail sector and foodservice industry. In addition to financial injections and office space, the program offers intense exchange with mentors, individual coaching sessions and workshops. THERE ARE ALREADY SEVERAL STARTUP ACCELERATORS OUT THERE – WHY DID METRO LAUNCH THEIR OWN IN 2015? AZ: The unique thing about the METRO Accelerator is our concentration on the development of startups focusing on the retail sector and foodservice industry. This focus fits the company behind the accelerator perfectly: METRO Cash & Carry belongs to the METRO Group and is a leading international specialist in the field of self-service wholesaling with offices in 25 countries. Restaurants, in particular, purchase their goods at the company’s more than 750 wholesale markets. In a quest to create added value for this important group of customers, we use the accelerator to actively seek out innovative tech-based startups. THE TRIUMPHANT ADVANCE OF ONLINE COMMERCE HAS BEEN UNDERWAY FOR SOME TIME NOW. HOW DO YOU SEE THE DIGITIZATION OF THE FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY DEVELOPING IN THE FUTURE? AZ: The foodservice industry is poised to undergo an even greater process of digitization than experienced to date. I’m sure of that. This presents us with tremendous opportunities, as digitization has the potential to simplify and accelerate business processes and customer relations for restaurants, cafés, hotels, snack stands and caterers. “Digitization has the potential to simplify and accelerate business processes and customer relations for restaurants, cafés, hotels, snack stands and caterers.” 14

COULD YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE FROM THE METRO ACCELERATOR ITSELF? AZ: The first that comes to mind is a checklist app created by a startup called Flowtify. The app is designed for Android tablets and makes it easier for companies to keep track of hygiene regulations. Instead of having to fill out lists meticulously by hand, you simply click on the tablet. In fact, this paperless quality management solution is already being used in some Real markets. An inspiring workshop atmosphere at the accelerator Photo: hospitality.metroaccelerator.com/blog WHAT ROLE DOES THE US STARTUP NETWORK TECHSTARS PLAY IN THE METRO ACCELERATOR? AZ: Although the METRO Group has decades of experience in the retail and wholesale sectors, the idea of founding our own accelerator was brand new territory for us. So we brought in the professionals. Techstars is an American startup network with a highly respected name in the startup scene across the globe. They’ve been managing accelerator programs for young internet companies for ten years and have had a program in Berlin since 2015. THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE METRO GROUP ARE IN DÜSSELDORF – WHY IS THE METRO ACCELERATOR IN BERLIN? AZ: Because Berlin is Germany’s number-one startup metropolis. Successful startups like Zalando and Delivery Hero have their head offices here. The city’s founders’ scene continues to grow, with new startups mushrooming up every day. Berlin also happens to be the city in Germany that attracts the most venture capital. And then there’s the city’s sheer international magnetism. We see this in the over 600 applications we receive for our program each year, including startups from Germany, Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. WHAT SHOULD THESE YOUNG COMPANIES EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE IN BERLIN? AZ: Three months at full throttle! Some of the events in our jam-packed schedule include team meetings, coaching sessions, pitch training, workshops and one-on-one discussions with mentors, the latter being one of the most important factors for success. In addition to financial backing totaling up to €120,000, there’s also the support of a network of 120 mentors, which include experienced METRO managers but also successful startup professionals. Our offices at the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center at Berlin’s Schlossplatz also offer ideal conditions for startups, who can take advantage of fully furnished offices and networking opportunities at our business incubation center. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE TWELVE WEEKS ARE UP? AZ: The program’s crowning finale is the DEMO DAY, when startups do their best to showcase their companies. We invite all mentors, potential investors and the media to join us on this day. After that, we remain connected to the startups through our investments in each company as well as through the alumni program. Incidentally, quite a few startups stay in Berlin and work on their future success from right here in the capital. APROPOS THE FUTURE – WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE METRO ACCELERATOR PROGRAM? AZ: In 2017, thanks to the tremendous success we’ve enjoyed with our Hospitality Program in the past two years, we’re going to be adding a program for startups from the retail sector. In order to publicize the program and find ideal young companies, we’ve been on the road a lot in the past several months, most recently in Tel Aviv together with Berlin Partner. That Israeli city has a booming startup scene, just like Berlin. Thanks to support from Berlin Partner, we were able to meet some amazing founders there. I’m already looking forward to seeing how our dual programs turn out in 2017! www.metroaccelerator.com Text: Eva Scharmann 15

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