One of my favorite things about entrepreneurship is the constant reinvention and repurposing of assets.
You see this manifested in startup workspaces: for example, our offices were once a light industrial factory, then it was briefly a brothel (true story). Now the exposed timber and brick create the perfect environment for hatching tools for entrepreneurs.
Similarly, this week's accelerator of the week is housed in a factory that was once a cotton mill, or as the Germans like to say, a "Baumwollspinnerei."
We are pleased to take you to Leipzig Germany for our Accelerator of the Week #12: SpinLab.
Our accelerator is called SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator. The name directly shows where we are: our office is at Spinnerei, a famous hot spot for artists and creatives with an industrial ambience. Moreover, the name indicates which networks we access, since HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management is a leading German business school highly ranked especially for its entrepreneurship activities.
SpinLab supports the growth of entrepreneurial and innovative teams by providing access to infrastructure (co-working office space and technology), coaching and mentoring, as well as to our international network of successful business founders, established market players and leading investors.
What makes your program different or unique? What’s your primary value-add?
First of all, we don’t take any equity or charge anything, but we connect our startups to a couple of leading venture funds and corporates as well as we support them to acquire public grants. We offer a creative and inspiring environment at Spinnerei with more than 250 artists, galleries and startups around. Our program is intensive and highly valuable according to the feedback of our startups. We manage to get them pitching in front of C-level decision makers of the biggest German corporates and the best German venture funds.
What do you love the most about working with startups?
We really enjoy the cool working atmosphere that is both professional but still inspiring. Personally, it is a great pleasure to cheer every team that got its first paying customer, a seed investor, a public grant or that won a competition. And we experience things like these all the time-- things that can potentially change the lives of the founders.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?
It is really hard to get them focused on their core competencies and due to a lack of resources they always struggle with how to manage their capacities. Sometimes, talking to an investor prevents you from developing your product. Attending a startup competition reduces your time for customer acquisition. To solve problems like those is really hard for many teams and requires not only a lot of time input, but also self-esteem, dedication and optimism.
Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting
companies to go through your program?
The first batch includes ekoio (smart telematics connecting cars); Project Loox (computer vision algorithms); Preparo (increasing the success of job matchmaking); Optee.me (optimizing household finances); Merolt (travel management services); Conbox (cloud-based TV applications).
Actually so far each startup is a success story, since no one belongs to the 90% of startups that fail. Although this only might be a question of time I’m really convinced that we are supporting more than one winning team.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?
We implemented Foundersuite as a supporter who provides access to their platform for our startups. This increases our attractiveness, but more than that it helps our startups to manage themselves.
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Focus. Focus. Focus.