22. May 2013–
Missed the latest German corporate to jump on the incubator bandwagon? Looks like one of Germany's biggest optical shops, Fielmann, launched Hamburg-based Fielmann Ventures without a big press junket or showy announcement last year. The incubator is targeting technological ventures within the optical industry.
Fielmann Ventures promises to support projects with expertise, scaling competencies and venture capital. The incubator has short cycles, in which teams develop minimum viable products and test them with customers and opticians. The website promises that they’re more interested in the long-term satisfaction of their customers rather than short-term profits.
The optical industry is a lucrative one – according to Fielmann Ventures, last year it made a total of €5.2b in revenue in Germany alone. Fielmann itself makes a large chunk of this revenue – the team claims that Fielmann sold more than seven million glasses in 2012 with a turnover of €1.2b.
So far, you can't buy anything from the company online, but according to an interview with Manager Magazine, that's one of the things Fielmann Ventures is out to solve. Apparently, they're currently working on a mobile app to start selling contact lenses online, putting them in competition with Mister Spex – the leading online optical retailer in Germany which last week received €16m funding. Fielmann are also out to optimise their data processing, wanting to shorten the amount of working time it takes to sell one pair of glasses by seven minutes.
Fielmann joins a growing number of German corporations who have decided to capitalise on the startup scene with their own incubators, including Rewe, Deutsche Telekom, Axel Springer, ProSiebenSat.1 and Deutsche Post (through its subsidiary target advertising platform Nugg.ad). It’s too early to tell if the plethora of incubators will really accel the startup scene in Germany or whether it's just a case of corporates trying to stay innovative by jumping on the startup bandwagon.
For related posts, check out
ProSiebenSat.1 unveils the startups taking part in its first accelerator programme
Big guy, meet little guy: explaining Deutsche Telekom’s new love for Berlin startups
Online eyewear store Mister Spex receives €16m cash injection for expansion