What makes German media giant ProSiebenSat.1's startup accelerator special?

Like any other accelerator, German media conglomerate ProSiebenSat.1 gives startups a chance at seed funding, office space and whatnot. But they also receive a shot at millions of euros in TV ads.
What makes German media giant ProSiebenSat.1's startup accelerator special?


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Media group ProSiebenSat.1 is one of the companies that has decided to jump on the corporate accelerator bandwagon, albeit a rare European one.

Started about two years ago and open for applications for its next class (until 31 January), the German conglomerate's accelerator program is fairly standard in many ways.

It's time-limited (3 months), provides startups with office space, infrastructure and services during that time, and give founders access to a network of mentors and coaches from within and outside the media company. And, of course, an financial boost to the tune of €25,000 (for 5% of equity).

But there are certain things that makes ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator special. First of all, the accelerator will accept startups from all over Europe regardless of their specific vertical - in other words, business-to-business focused ventures are as welcome as flashy consumer-targeted software startups.


Secondly, and what arguably sets the accelerator even more apart from all the others, startups who make the cut get a chance of receiving up to €7 million worth of advertising on ProSiebenSat.1's media network, which comes primarily in the form of TV commercials.

ProSiebenSat.1 claims to reach over 42 million TV households in German-speaking countries, so this is significant reach for any startup (although perhaps not relevant for all of them).

Dr. Jens Pippig, a McKinsey veteran who joined the media company in 2012 and founded ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator in January 2013, explained to me that not all startups that are accepted into the program get media exposure, however.

Rather, Pippig said, one startup from each class gets picked to compete at the SevenVentures Pitch Day for the millions of euros in advertising. SevenVentures, for the uninitiated, is the ProSiebenSat.1 Group's corporate venture capital arm which would typically invest in or partner with startups in the post-accelerator phase.

For the next class that starts next March (again, you can apply until the end of this month), ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator for the first time is introducing a vertical track dubbed LaunchpAD, that will specifically focus on supporting two startups in the field of advertising technology and data analytics.

Said startups will get to work together with the parent company's marketing agency SevenOne Media, one of the largest online/offline marketers in Germany, and other ProSiebenSat.1 business units.

Asked how ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator measures success (an important question to ask in my view, given the large number of startup accelerators in Europe), Pippig said follow-on funding and the ratio of startups that live on after the program are two main indicators.

Down the line, Pippig acknowledged, profitable exits will be used as a measure of success, but the managing director of the accelerator justifiably said it was far too early for that. Hard to argue with that; it takes upwards of 5 years before 'exit results' start to show for any early-stage investor.


But from the accelerator's latest class, which only 'graduated' last November, all startups that got into the program have raised follow-on funding or are in the process of doing so, Pippig said.

And some of the graduates of earlier cohorts have been successful in a variety of ways, Pippig explained.

Cashboard, which combines modern investments (lending, funding, social trading) with traditional investments (fonds, shares, etc.), won 4 million euros worth of TV ads at the aforementioned SevenVentures Pitch Day, while another startup called Kinematics has successfully completed a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, secured a seven-figure investment from VCs and attracted major partners for its modular robotics toy system. Another, Tickethelden, was acquired.

ProSiebenSat.1 Accelerator graduates that have secured 'high six-figure funding rounds' include Jurato, a marketplace for legal advice, online re-glazing shop Eyeglass24, social recruiting enterprise software startup Talentry and p2p parking space booking platform Ampido.

If this accelerator sounds like something for your startup, apply here.

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