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accelerator of the month by vestbee
06 September 2022·7 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - SpinLab

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - SpinLab

SpinLab is a Leipzig-based accelerator, that supports startup founders from Germany and beyond in developing their innovative solutions. It is mostly directed toward startups in the pre-seed or expansion phase, however, more mature companies also can benefit from SpinLab’s resources when looking for internationalization opportunities, entering the German market or developing their brand awareness there. SpinLab’s focus areas include eHealth, energy, and Smart City industries and one of their distinguishing features is a vast network of investors and partners from all of these sectors, ready to leverage their expertise and capabilities in making the startups grow. Learn more about SpinLab’s strategy, projects, and unique features.  

Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: Europe
Preferred industries: Smart City, eHealth, Energy
Company stage: pre-seed, expansion phase, established startups
Product stage: prototype, introduction, ready-product, growth
Product type: B2B, seldom B2C
Revenues: with or without

Program Details

Duration: 6 months
Participation fee: No (no equity, no shares)
Equity Investment: No
Grant: up to 15.000€
No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications): 2
No. of startups in a cohort: 10
Q&A with (Dr. Eric Weber, CEO & Founder )

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your acceleration program?

First of all, we look at the team and if we believe this team is capable to realize their idea and how professional they are. Secondly, we are looking for real innovative technologies and applications with clear USPs. Another requirement is that at least one of our partner companies is interested in cooperation with the startups. Fourthly, we check the fit to our program, so what are the founders looking for, what do they expect and how does it fit our offering and competencies. Moreover, we have to check if the stage is right for us, which means there should be a prototype that our partners can use and a fundable business model.

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program?

We offer a hybrid program, which means we combine high-quality digital content with highly interactive on-site focus weeks. We require startups to join our focus weeks to have a personal exchange between us, founders, and our partners. Founders need to be “coachable”, which means they are willing to learn and adopt.

Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

The commitment of the founding team is crucial. This means no side jobs and a fair distribution of shares between founders. If this is not given or there are other strange things happening in the cap table (e.g. shares for consultants, too many shares for universities, blocking minorities (or even majorities) of corporates, etc.)

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

Our program mainly focuses on market entry including sales, marketing, and piloting with corporates, as well as funding, meaning both VC and public grants, but also other funding alternatives. The program is a very hands-on training approach. Our coaches have been successful and sometimes less successful entrepreneurs themselves. They gained a lot of experience they can now share in very different fields.

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

During the six-month program, we offer both digital and on-site training. While our digital academy combines eLearning videos from famous European entrepreneurs and investors, helpful articles and link collections, various standard document drafts, and quizzes, our on-site focus weeks offer highly interactive workshops, 1on1 coaching sessions, role-play, group discussions, and other formats. Did you ever fire an employee or hold a feedback talk? Did you ever have to fell an investment decision as a VC? Or did you ever cook dinner following scrum rules? If not, you can do this during our program. Moreover, we have a huge network in the European investor network, and our focus industries are energy, smart city, and health. Even our alumni have lifetime access to our digital platform including chat and academy, to our partner deals from various companies like Hubspot or Stripe, frequently receive free tickets to major events like Slush, WebSummit, or eWorld all across Europe, or cheaply access our job platform, alumni consulting services or our coworking offering.

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

We are honored to have worked with great startups. Some of them were sold very successfully, like replex to Cisco, Rhebo to the Swizz stock corporation Landis+Gyr, or Mementor to California-based S&P500 Medtech ResMed. Others like aidhere, Flynex, keleya, Xayn, myo, aumio or digitail raised millions of VC and created dozens or even hundreds of jobs each.

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

Founders need to adapt and be passionate about what they do. Of course, there are quite hard times and serious struggles. But good teams will find their way. But you need to stay optimistic and flexible.

Why, in your opinion, accelerators are becoming more popular nowadays?

Because founding a startup is really hard regardless of your own background. We had serial entrepreneurs that learned so much in our program that I think they might even join again with their next startup. It is very complex and things are changing so dynamically and every idea, market, and team is different and so exchanging ideas and minds are great.

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator and where do you see the biggest hype?

We are quite stable when it comes to industries and markets. As we focus on energy, smart city, and health, which are heavily regulated and complex markets, we had to build expertise over years. We dug really deep into these industries, where we can provide a huge benefit for startups. It would be a lie if I say that works in other markets, just because they are hyped. Of course, we see several technology hypes that change from time to time, like AI, ML, AR, blockchain/web3, etc., but we try not to get blended by technology hypes that may have no valuable application in our focus industries.

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

I think there will be consolidation because small accelerators with low budgets and unknown brands struggle to get quality startups into their programs. So, in the long term, those programs can’t create sustainable business models. We have been lucky enough to receive several awards and ranking achievements, e.g. top 5 accelerators by TheEuropas and being a member of both the German Digital Hub Initiative and the European Digital Innovation Hub initiative. We run several programs in Leipzig (SpinLab), Hanover (RootCamp), or virtually (EIT Urban Mobility) and have an affiliated seed fund (Smart Infrastructure Ventures) and we still keep on growing. With a special focus on CEE regions. Also, I expect that the most successful accelerators will be part of whole ecosystems or hubs consisting of affiliated incubators, VC funds, coworking, major event formats, and other services since “simple” acceleration programs will not be enough to convince the best founders to join a certain program.

Related Posts: 

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - The Alpha Accelerator (by Dorota Potępa, Community Builder, Vestbee)

Accelerator Of The Month - Demium (by Dorota Potępa, Community Builder, Vestbee)

Startup Accelerator Of The Month -  CultTech Accelerator (by Dorota Potępa, Community Builder, Vestbee)


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