Thank you

This is just a quick note to say ‘thank you’. The response to the launch of Techstars Berlin was both humbling and overwhelming. I have received:

  • Over 100 applications to Techstars Berlin in less than a week! Wow. That made me very happy. :)
  • 100s of emails from people wishing me well and asking how they can help or be involved. Still smile at this one: “I would love to get involved in any way I can. Just tell me what you need. -g”
  • Over a dozen applications for the Program Manager position within the last three days alone. Loved this endorsement: “Throw the kitchen sink at her, and she’ll build you a kitchen.”

I am still trying to properly reply  to all the emails, but it will take a while.

So meanwhile here is a quick. Thank. You.

Announcing Techstars Berlin

Today Techstars is announcing a new program in Berlin that will kick off in Summer 2015 and I’m excited to officially come on board as the Managing Director.

Applications open today, with a program start date in June and Demo Day in September. The program will run like other Techstars city programs in Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Cloud (San Antonio), London, New York City, and Seattle.

My full profile can be found here but I have been mentoring at Techstars (and its London precursor program Springboard) for many years. When I told Techstars I wouldn’t be able to mentor going forward as I was moving to Germany, I was asked whether I would be interested in opening up a Berlin program. I then spent the next six months working with Techstars in London and at the same time met 50-100 Berlin based entrepreneurs and investors. What I found really excited me:

  • Over the last ten years or so, many new tech startups have sprung up in Berlin. Rocket Internet, Zalando, and Delivery Hero, each valued at $1BN+ are headquartered in Berlin. According to an analysis by Ciaran O’Leary of Earlybird, there are now a similar number of $10m+ financing rounds of top VCs in Berlin as there are in London. And the year-on-year growth rate of such financings is higher in Berlin than London. There is a lot of activity here and I expect much more in the future.
  • Berlin is a city with almost no ‘old’ money. Almost all of the angel investors that are actively investing in Berlin are former Internet entrepreneurs. They have been there and done it. It makes a huge difference when compared to investors in other (German) cities. And there are a lot of them. I think there is more high quality seed capital in Berlin than there are investment opportunities of the same quality. Perfect for entrepreneurs.
  • Berlin is a fantastic place to live and work. The cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in London or New York. The quality of all public services is high. Crime is low. Berlin is a global city with an overwhelming offering of cultural activities. And best of all, everybody speaks English. You can easily live here without ever having to use a word of German.

All of the above makes it easy to attract high quality talent into Berlin and keep it here. All of this at a fraction of the cost of US/UK startup centres. And as Matt Cohler of Benchmark rightly pointed out, startups take centre stage in Berlin.

When I asked the local entrepreneurs and investors whether running a Techstars program in Berlin made sense, two things were pointed out over and over again. First, Techstars has a very strong reputation so we should be able to attract highly quality mentors and companies that will make for a successful program. Second, Techstars has a very strong network of over 3000 people in the US and UK. This is a unique asset that could add significant value to the startups going through the program.

We’ve already built a community of investors and mentors to support the Berlin program and we’re growing the network every day. Here are some sample investor mentors, with many more to be announced in the coming weeks (VC and angel investors, local entrepreneurs, and other key players in the Berlin tech community):

Brad Feld – Managing Director, Foundry Group
Pawel Chudzinski – Managing Partner, Point Nine Capital
Christian Buchenau, Partner, Paua Ventures
Suranga Chandratillake & Rob Moffat – Balderton Capital
Jason Whitmire & Simon Schminke – Earlybird Ventures
David Cohen – Founder & Managing Partner, Techstars
Fabian Heilemann & Lydia Benkö – Partners, Heilemann Ventures
Philipp Hartmann & Tobias Johann – Managing Partners, Rheingau Founders
Benjamin Rohe & Ludwig Preller – Partners, MAS Angel Fund
Christoph Gerlinger – Founder & CEO, German Startups Group

If you are a startup founder and want to apply for the program, please fill in the application form here.

If you want to reach out to me to discuss Techstars Berlin, please email me at

PS: We are looking for a Program Manager to help me run Techstars Berlin. Details of the job can be found here.


Open Position: Program Manager at Techstars Berlin

Update: I am no longer accepting applications for this position

Company: Techstars
Job Title: Program Manager
Employee Type: Full-Time
Location: Berlin, Germany
Salary Range: €40k-50k + global profit share
Start Date: Q1 2015
Applications Close: 31st Jan 2015

About Techstars
It’s pretty simple, really.
Techstars arms the world’s most promising startups with its massive interconnected network of successful entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and corporations to help them do more faster. Building this amazing network is our true north, and why we exist.

Techstars is widely considered the gold standard for startup accelerators. With 15 programs worldwide, our mentorship-driven accelerator program funds the best companies in the most entrepreneurial communities. Since 2006, over 70% of the 500 companies from almost 40 Techstars programs have received funding, representing approximately $750 million in venture capital and $2 billion in total valuation.

Job Title: Program Manager
Are you insanely organized? Do you love crossing things off your to-do list? Are you an inbox zero person? Do others think you’re the social chair of your community? Do you love working with people? Do you always send thank you cards? Do you want to work in a fast paced, energized, slightly irreverent, entrepreneurial community? Then we have the job for you!

Along with the Managing Director, the Program Manager (“PM”) is tasked with the success of a particular Techstars program. This opportunity affords high visibility and responsibility as the PM works side by side with a prominent Managing Director, helping early stage companies through the Techstars mentorship driven accelerator model.

The Program Manager is responsible for the administrative duties, operations, and the execution of the program from the pre-program stage, through the program, and the post-program stage. They keep the trains running on time. During the “off-season” (not running a program), PMs have responsibilities/objectives that benefit the entire Techstars ecosystem. Logistics experience as well as familiarity with the early stage venture backed company ecosystem is preferred. A willingness to learn and comfort tackling new problems is a must. We are looking for a Program Manager to grow with Techstars as a global organization. This position is full time.

Duties and Responsibilities:
– Engage with Techstars founders and coordinate activities, meetings and events that drive them toward success
– Manage relationships and coordinate scheduling of mentors
– Manage relationships with Local and Global sponsors of Techstars
– Follow best practices and execute upon outlined content and curriculum of the program
– Share new best practices with the Techstars team globally as you identify areas for innovation and improvement
– Calendar management (mentors, talks, events, general programming)
– Event planning
– Recruit companies, vet applications, and assist the Managing Director with company selection
– Recruit and manage Techstars Associates and Hackstars
– Represent Techstars in local community, both actively and passively
– Service the Techstars network overall on and off-season: sherpa new PDs and PMs, assist in other programs, work on strategic initiatives and develop meaningful and beneficial relationships across the Techstars ecosystem

– 2-5 years in fast-paced project or program management focused position
– Strong interest and discourse competence around technology, startups, entrepreneurship, venture capital
– Proven attention to detail through prior work or life experience
– Experience in event planning and event logistics
– Comfortable with a variety of responsibilities – PMs make investments and wipe down tables!
– Comfortable with a minimal amount of direction but high expectations
– Fits the Techstars culture (people-oriented, adaptable, supportive, creative)
– Working knowledge of German is advantageous

Perks and Compensation:
– Competitive salary commensurate with experience
– Complete benefit package including global profit sharing
– Travel as it relates to position responsibilities (recruiting at conferences, yearly Foundercon conference, training, etc)
– Expense account
– Deep exposure to Techstars’ network of 5000+ top caliber entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and corporations

Techstars is excited to bring a Program Manager on the team that will help take this program to the next level. If you’re interested, we’d love to have a conversation with you about the position.

Update: I am no longer accepting applications for this position

Techstars is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, national origin, religion, physical or mental handicaps or disabilities, marital status, Veteran status, sexual orientation, nor any other basis prohibited by law.