The Anatomy of Our Startup Support
It all started four years ago when AtomLeap (now Delphai) first received support from the Berlin Senate and EFG for their acceleration program to support early stage entrepreneurs in Berlin. Since then, 17 startups have graduated from the ever changing, iterating, and growing program. Now, the High-Tech SeedLab is guiding 7 promising teams with a focus on technology, sustainability or women in tech through their 10 month acceleration support.
As we (the High-Tech SeedLab Accelerator team) reflect on the first quarter, we take stock of our learning curriculum. Drawing on previous years of feedback and changes to our structure, we realise that what sets High-Tech SeedLab’s curriculum apart is our practical, hands-on approach. As part of the acceleration program, founding teams receive a monthly stipend and office space to work from. Participants also get access to an extensive library of resources and MBA material. Group workshops, drop in sessions, and individualized deep dives are delivered by startup coaches from our core team as well as outside experts and mentors.
Accelerating Knowledge in Full Day Workshops
Customer Discovery & User Research:
Discovering potential customers, segmenting them into personas, and devising a marketing strategy to target them is one of the most important anchor points to start with and keep track of along your startup journey. It cultivates ideas for your MVP and helps you prioritize tasks in product development further down the road. Marc Andreesen once said that “markets that don’t exist don’t care how smart you are.” As a startup founder, your biggest risk is building something nobody wants. Similarly, creating something people want but not reaching the right crowd is equally frustrating. To avoid these, you have to make sure to really get to know your target audience. Depending on the stage and progress of startup teams in that area, the High-Tech SeedLab team facilitates:
(a) In the introductory workshop on customer discovery, founders are prompted and encouraged to take a deep-dive into client and customer personas, segmentation, and a term that we coined customer-specific-value-proposition (CSVP aka product-market fit). We then take participants on a journey to creatively devise experiments and sprints to test the hypotheses they have developed about their target audience. Each team is encouraged to “get outside the building” and collect qualitative and quantitative data about their potential customers. Finally, startup founders then learn how to organize quantitative data inputs and collate them with qualitative interview results.
(b) User research deep dive workshops feature data analysis modules designed to obtain a good overview about your product usage: how many visitors are coming to the website, what pages are visited most frequently, how many people download your content, where visitors come from, when and why they leave, how much time they spend and where. The goal is to identify flaws in your customer journey and optimize the design and process for conversions (the action you want visitors to take).
Early-stage startups need massive growth in a short time on small budgets. Growth hacking is driven by an enormous amount of creativity and experimentation. It means combining traditional marketing techniques with data analytics, engineering, and social media monitoring. In this series of workshops, you are introduced to crazy, out of the ordinary concepts and far out ideas for growth.
Finance & Investment:
This workshop is focused on making financial statements dynamic. In other words, financial statements become robust enough to reflect immediate changes in your assumptions, thereby turning into powerful decision-making and fundraising tools. You learn how to weave that in with investment pitch decks and business plans, with a focus on “roadmap” and “ask”. High-Tech SeedLab coaches also avail themselves to work with you hands on to develop fundraising strategies and financial plans.
Legal & Founding:
Together with outside legal experts the program cuts through all the legal components. Often covered topics include registration, licenses, granting equity, vesting equity, granting options, issuing common stock vs. preferred stock, Capitalization Tables, corporate formation agreements, and/or changing cofounders. We help you make sense of the jargon and always be on the safe side.
Last but not least, pitch training is a central component of the High-Tech SeedLab Acceleration program. You regularly pitch and tweak your presentation, and crystalize your performance towards the end of the program in preparation for demo day. At this pitch competition you will be presenting in front of a large audience from Berlin’s startup world, not least investors and have the chance to win prize money.
Accelerating Progress with Expert Drop-In Sessions & Individualized Deep Dives
Whether you’re looking for a blockchain developer to audit your decentralized application or a machine translation guru to give you deeper product/market insights, the High-Tech SeedLab’s core team spends a lot of time getting you the right subject matter expert to ask your question or audit your progress.
The High-Tech SeedLab has a strong track record of connecting our founding teams with individuals who can help you make big strides. We make a distinction between experts who drop in once on an individualized basis, and outside mentors who check in with you regularly. Either way, our core team of coaches help you pin down partnerships. They themselves also support you with a 360° view on your business, and provide input on essential activities such as building marketing strategies and financial plans from the ground up.
All in all, our acceleration program for early-stage high-tech ventures equips you with the knowledge and support necessary to launch your idea off the ground in fields of high-tech and sustainability.
This program is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as the State of Berlin.