By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR
Today five German startups will strut their stuff on the New York stage for the second German Innovation Showcase, hosted by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York and ifridge & Company. Among the line-up are Kisi, The Peak Lab, Fundcuisine, Henrichsen and Qumram. They will pitch to a panel of experts from Gotham Ventures, Venture Capital and VentureOutNY with the goal to gain valuable feedback on how to wow U.S. investors.
Since the ‘Wirtschaftswunder’, small and midsized businesses have always been a stronghold for Germany’s economy. But for long there has not been an entrepreneurship culture à la Silicon Valley. Sometimes German entrepreneurs ventured outside of the country to pursue their business dreams. In 2012, an article by the Economist stated that there are about 50,000 Germans in Silicon Valley. Times have changed since. Opportunities have increased for German entrepreneurs that stay in Germany to start a business.
In fact, Germany is emerging as a major hub for tech startups. According to Startup Genome Report in 2012, Berlin ranked 15th on the global startup ecosystem ranking. Germany’s capital attracts the most foreign investment than other German cities according to the results of the German Startup Monitor 2013, published by the German Startup Association and the Berlin School of Economics and Law together with its partners, including Google and KPMG. Every second VC-funded startup in Berlin was able to bring foreign investors onboard. As a result, startups in Berlin tend to be bigger and hire employees faster compared to startups in other parts of the country. For example, Berlin startups employ on average 15.3 employees, a 50% higher hiring rate than the rest of the country.
While the hiring rate might differ by city, across the country, startups have emerged as major job creators in Germany. The country has recognized its vibrant startups scene as an opportunity to keep its position in the global tech and science business. As such it does not come to a surprise that the findings from the German Startup Monitor 2013 show a strong preference for technology skills:
– 74% of the open positions at startups are for candidates with a background in engineering and technology;
– 80% of startups that are not in the tech industry said that the Internet is very important for their business model.
Regardless of the industry, a minimum investment of EUR 50,000 or higher was required for more than 50% of the surveyed startups by the German Startup Monitor to turn their business idea into reality. Business grants and startup competitions have become an important source of funding, especially if angel and VC funding are not secured (yet). For aspiring entrepreneurs one opportunity is start2grow. The Economic Development Agency of Dortmund created this competition to develop the city into a leading technology and business location in Europe. In addition to getting a shot at winning the coveted prize money, the about 700 applicants per year compete to gain access to a network of more than 600 mentors and introductions to banks and investors. Since its launch in 2000, start2grow has helped build over 700 companies and almost 4,000 jobs around Dortmund, an impressive track record that has attracted international attention.
Germany has created a more founder-friendly environment. Compared to a decade ago, there is a more vibrant startup scene and a better infrastructure for entrepreneurs across the country. In the future we will see even more German startups with innovative ideas step on the global stage. Chances are the next world’s top startup model is coming from Germany.
 Conducted annually, the German Startup Monitor surveys startups in Germany, defined as highly innovative companies that are less than ten years old and have a significant growth potential. Go to https://deutschestartups.org/themen/startup-monitor/ to download the report.