The ranks

Germany’s startup accelerators get mixed reviews

germany startup accelerators rankings
Let's get it started. Source: DPA

A German study has ranked startup accelerators and found that while they help companies to grow, they need to get better at offering tailor-made services.

The Cologne University of Applied Sciences (RFH) spoke to 110 founders about their experiences with startup accelerator programs and then assigned gold, silver or bronze ratings to the organizations.

Accelerators help young companies by providing a range of services including advice and coaching, technical and administrative support and office space.

Handelsblatt got an exclusive look at the results of the survey in which accelerators were judged on their performance on five criteria: follow-up financing, acquisitions or stock market floatations, value increases, networking and the satisfaction of the startup companies who work with them.

Three came up gold — Iconiq Lab Token Accelerator, Spin Lab and Techstars. Six more got silver, six got bronze, and 15 weren’t ranked because they weren’t rated by enough startups or didn’t meet the criteria.

“None of the institutions reached the full number of points, but overall the results of the study are very positive,” said Kai Buehler, a professor of digital entrepreneurship at RFH. “We want to give German founders an overview of the German accelerator scene with this study. We also want to provide transparency about what works with which accelerators and what doesn’t.”

Startup markup

The RFH plans to repeat the survey once a year to track the development of the German startup accelerator market. The study gauges how pleased companies are with their accelerators in a net promoter score that reflects how likely companies are to recommend the programs to others, ranging from -100 to 100.

Importantly, all the companies surveyed saw their value increase during the accelerator programs. Before they started, only about 20 percent of the startups had values of more than €2.5 million ($2.9 million). After the programs were completed, the proportion had risen to almost 55 percent.

But there’s room for improvement, the RFH said. Too many startup accelerators use a classroom approach in which startup entrepreneurs from different industries and with different financial resources find themselves in the same program.

“That ignores the fact that a company worth over €1 million needs a different approach from a firm that is worth only €50,000,” Mr. Buehler said. Individual programs shaped to cater for the specific needs of different companies were likely to produce better results, he said.

Accelerators should also work on improving their networking between startups and investors, he said. He also suggested that the duration of programs should become more flexible and more focused on delivering results rather than sticking to predetermined periods.

Daniel Rottländer is a freelance journalist for Handelsblatt. To contact the author: rottlaenderdaniel@gmail.com

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