Accelerators in Europe: Interview with Startupbootcamp’s Alex Farcet

March 29, 2012

1:00 pm

The European accelerator program Startupbootcamp has a new location: Berlin, Germany.

This 3-month program awards startups 15,000 euros in seed funding, office space, and mentorship. Founded in 2010 and heavily inspired by TechStars, Startupbootcamp is part of the Global Accelerator Network (formerly the TechStars Network). The program has graduated 5 classes, and other cities include Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Dublin.

Startupbootcamp is looking for 10 teams to rock Berlin, with applications due June 17.

Below, Startupbootcamp cofounder Alex Farcet dishes about accelerators in Europe, the lessons and challenges of starting an accelerator, and why we need startups.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the accelerator landscape like in Europe?

Alex Farcet: It’s growing! When we launched Startupbootcamp in 2010 there were maybe 3-4 programs calling themselves accelerators; now there are dozens. Here’s a good overview:

Tech Cocktail: How do European accelerators differ from US ones?

Farcet: They’re probably more similar that not. The European investment scene clearly isn’t as hot as what we’re seeing in Silicon Valley, average valuations are lower, and deals take longer, but we have some great VCs and active angels and they’re waking up to the value of accelerators; they’re attending our Investor Demo Days by the hundreds and we’re super optimistic about the future.

Tech Cocktail: What lessons have you learned from starting Germany’s Startupbootcamp?

Farcet: I literally just announced this a few days ago. But it’s going incredibly well. Berlin is a super active and buzzing scene and I’ve already got over 40 top notch mentors on board. What took 3 months for the first program in Copenhagen has taken me a few days here. Of course we have a strong brand and most people have heard about us but there is also something special about Berlin. It’s open and supportive and most people understand that there’s an awesome opportunity to build something special.

Tech Cocktail: How does Startupbootcamp try to stand out from the crowd?

Farcet: Our unique value proposition is our European network. We recognise that Europe will never be able to duplicate Silicon Valley, however we’re convinced that we have just as smart, talented, inventive, and driven entrepreneurs. So we’re connecting our super strong local ecosystems in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Madrid, and now Berlin. By the end of this year we’ll have 61 startup alumni meaning about 180 entrepreneurs who love Startupbootcamp. And we have about 100 super cool mentors in each program who are all serial entrepreneurs. We’re working hard to connect all this into a virtual active and supportive network.

Tech Cocktail: Anything else you’d like to share? 

Farcet: Both the Kauffmann Foundation and the OECD have published studies that showed that large companies are net destroyers of jobs and SME’s and startups are net creators of jobs. There is a huge open innovation movement and companies are realising that their multi-billion dollar internal R&D programs are yielding mitigated results at best. Accelerators are at the forefront of a new kind of innovation: open, fast, mentorship driven, asset-light, and fast. We’re super excited to be leading the movement in Europe and, judging by the list of 60 worldwide cities who have contacted us, we’re not stopping here ;).

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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