What is METRO Cash & Carry?
METRO Cash & Carry – the international leader in self-service wholesale – is represented in 25 countries with over 750 self-service wholesale stores. With a headcount of about 117,000 employees worldwide, the wholesale company achieved sales of about €29 billion in the financial year 2015/16. METRO Cash & Carry is a sales brand of METRO GROUP which is one of the most important international retailing companies. It generated sales of some €59 billion in the financial year 2015/16. The company operates over 2,000 locations in 29 countries and employs more than 220,000 people. The performance of METRO GROUP is based on the strength of its sales brands, which act independently on the market: METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry, the international leader in the self-service wholesale trade; Media Markt and Saturn, the European market leader in consumer electronics retailing; and Real hypermarkets.
What is Techstars?
Techstars is a global ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market wherever they choose to live. With dozens of mentorship-driven accelerator programs and thousands of start-up programs worldwide, Techstars supports the world’s most promising entrepreneurs throughout their lifelong journey, from inspiration to IPO. Techstars provides access to tens of thousands of community leaders, founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, allowing entrepreneurs to accelerate the pace of innovation and Do More Faster™. Techstars supports every stage of the entrepreneurial journey – from early stage grassroots community development to more formal opportunities that provide education, experience, acceleration, funding and beyond.
I have already raised some funding. Am I too far along for the program?
No. We have invested in companies that had already raised a Series A round, had $1m+ of annual revenue run rate or had a staff of 50+. We have also invested in a team of experienced founders who was in the earliest stages of launching their next venture. Ideally you are somewhere in between. When in doubt, just contact us, and we will be happy to discuss this in detail.
I am a single founder. Do I need a co-founder?
There is a difference between a start-up with a single founder and a startup consisting of one individual. We have successfully invested in startups with single founders who at the time of our investment already had a team around them. As a rule of thumb, we do not invest in single-person companies.
My company isn’t incorporated yet. Is this a problem?
No. We can help you with the set up as part of the investment process. It does not impact the investment decision.
I don’t speak any German. Is this a problem?
No. The program is run entirely in English. Participants should speak English well but no knowledge of German is required.
I come from a country outside of the European Union. Is this a problem regarding visas?
We have a close partnership with Berlin Partner who have been very helpful with visa applications. We cannot promise anything, but we were able to secure visas for all individuals to whom we sent an offer in Berlin in 2015. We cannot help companies with visas before we have made an offer and the offer has been accepted.
How does this program differ from a Techstars program?
METRO Accelerator powered by Techstars means that Techstars is operating the program on behalf of METRO. The Managing Director of the program, Jens Lapinski, is a Techstars employee. The sequencing of the program, duration, amount invested etc. are the same across all Techstars programs and this is also the case here. However, in addition to full-time Techstars staff, full-time METRO staff are also on site and participants have unprecedented access to the most senior staff members of METRO, including Olaf Koch, the group CEO. Therefore, you altogether get the standard benefits of a Techstars program, with some additional serious firepower from METRO behind it.
How does the application process work?
The application process begins online with an application form in which you can tell us about your team, your product, and the market you are located in. The questions are geared towards understanding both the business and the founders. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interviews that can take place in person or remotely.
Do I need to send in a business plan?
No, just complete the online application.
Is my age a factor in your selection process?
Not at all. Neither is your gender, race, religion or nationality or any other such characteristics.
Where is METRO Accelerator located?
METRO Accelerator office is located in the heart of Berlin. We provide all necessary office equipment and infrastructure and companies will operate from our offices for the duration of the program.
Do I have to move to Berlin for three months?
It is expected that the founders move to Berlin for the duration of the program. We have extensive experience in helping founders with children / family and founders who manage larger companies to navigate this time successfully. In some cases, founders can’t join us for 100 percent of the time and we can manage that. However, we require all founders to spend the majority of their time with the program. We are happy to discuss this in detail with you.
Do the companies that participate have to stay in Berlin area when the program ends after three months?
No, you are free to move to any location you wish after the program. In some cases, METRO may offer short-term leases to the startups and allow them to continue working in the accelerator space.
What investment do companies participating in METRO Accelerator receive?
Each company participating in the program is offered €120,000 in funding. This is structured in two parts: we invest €20,000 in exchange for 6 percent of the equity and participation in the program (this is not a valuation event). The investment is obligatory and participating companies have to complete the equity investment. In addition, we offer a convertible debt note of €100,000 to each company prior to the commencement of the program. Companies can – but do not have to – accept the note. Historically, around nine out of ten companies participating in a Techstars program have accepted the note. Both METRO and Techstars invest together in the companies.
Does my company have to be a German company (e.g. GmbH) to receive investment?
No. We routinely invest in companies incorporated in the US, UK, Germany and Israel.
Will the information in my application be treated confidentially?
In the application process, we ask applicants to describe their market opportunity, team, idea, and how they plan to execute it. Please do not submit any business plans, trade secrets, or “secret sauce”. Your application must include only non-confidential information. All information disclosed to us in your application will be considered non-confidential public information.
Does METRO own the intellectual property (IP) developed by my company during METRO Accelerator program?
No. It is your company. IP developed by a participating company will be retained by the company.
Anything else I need to know from a legal perspective?