27. March 2014–
“This is the beginning of something great” was the motto of the evening. Demo Night kicked off on Tuesday night with the nine startups of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Berlin pitching their business ideas with an introduction from their mentors.
“Microsoft Ventures is an organization that started about only nine months ago, and we have one purpose. We want to make great startups,” said Senior Director of Microsoft Ventures Zack Weisfeld in his keynote speech. Microsoft Ventures has six accelerators around the world with Berlin as the newest addition to its portfolio. According to Weisfeld, 200 startups have gone through the programme thus far and around 85% of them have received an average of $1.3 million in funding one year after graduation. Nine of the graduating startups have already been acquired by other companies.
Weisfeld announced: “We at Microsoft want to help create the next billion dollar company, and we want to make sure that some of these billion dollar companies are coming out of Berlin.” Here is an introduction to three startups from Demo Night who are Microsoft's newest candidates to become just that.
Cringle wants to make payment between friends simple and secure. Its mobile payment app allows money transfer direct from bank accounts by selecting the receiving party from the address book. In Cringle’s world, the frustration you feel from never being repaid when you lend your friends money will be gone. 6Wunderkinder CFO and mentor of Cringle Steffen Kiedel told the audience why he chose to mentor the startup: the idea solves a real problem and the team has the skills to do so.
Pinio is introducing its micro-video platform as a new way to exchange opinions online. In his pitch, Founder Markus Gilles strongly conveyed the beauty of the platform saying that it combines Medium’s design focus, Ted’s video format and Quora’s community interaction. Most recently, Pinio facilitated a decision between Angela Merkel and entrepreneurs from Germany. Wooga Founder Jens Begemann told the audience that he does not choose to mentor startup teams very often, but Pinio succeeded in “nailing the user experience.”
Medlanes talked to the audience about the hassle of today’s health care system. There are not enough doctors, it’s expensive, and if you want to see a doctor, you have to wait an average of 14 days. The startup wants to solve these problems by providing people with medical consultations through its website and app. Patients can describe their symptoms, take a picture or post a question, and Medlanes will connect them to the right medical professional to answer their question.
We caught up with Zack Weisfeld after the pitches for a discussion on Berlin’s first batch of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator graduates. “The entrepreneurs in Berlin are very methodological, very thoughtful. They are great with design,” says Weisfeld.
In addition to Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, there has been a proliferation of accelerators emerging in Berlin’s tech startup scene. Startupbootcamp, Axel Springer Plug and Play and hub:raum are just a few others. Weisfeld commented by saying, “If you look at what is important for startups, I would even say that money is easy. You can raise money and still not be successful. The one thing that is hardest to get is customers. So, if there is one thing we can do better than others, it is getting these startups in front of relevant customers...We have connected with our top 40 customers and partners and we make sure the startups and these top partners can communicate and do business together.”
The next batch will start in August and applications are already open. When asked if there will be any changes made to the next program, Weisfeld was confident that there would be: “We are a startup ourselves and we constantly play with new ideas on working with the entrepreneurs. We are learning all the time.”
Image Credit: Microsoft