- What is the TechFounders accelerator?
TechFounders is a dynamic division of UnternehmerTUM, Europe's leading center for innovation and business creation. Serving as the pivotal matchmaker between promising start-ups and established corporations,
TechFounders orchestrates partnerships that yield mutual benefits. Our core mission revolves around empowering start-ups for exponential growth while enabling corporations to ignite pioneering ideas and future-proof their endeavors.
Through these collaborative endeavors, we actively contribute to the expansion of employment opportunities and economic prosperity across Europe and beyond - in a sustainable and responsible manner.
- When and where is the program held?
The program takes place in Munich, Germany. We have two batches per year: Our winter batch starts in January and will finish with the Demo Day in June and our summer batch starts in July and will finish in December. Throughout the program, there are workshop sessions, networking events, and intensive customer and industry partner meetings determined by our start-ups’ own interests.
Every start-up has unlimited access to the high-tech prototyping center MakerSpace, which houses 3D printers, laser cutters, water jet machines, wood cutting, and much more.
- Do I have to relocate for the entire 20 weeks?
The coaching sessions and other events will take place in 4 out of the 20 weeks. Attendance in these sessions and events is obligatory. Currently, two of the program's sprints are conducted in person in Munich.
For the latest details on which sprints will be held on-site and which will be conducted remotely, please refer to the Program Timeline available on the Pilot Project Program page.
- When is the application deadline?
Applications for Batch #19 will be open from August 28 to September 25, 2023.
- What stage of start-ups are accepted?
Companies that are looking to raise an initial round of investment (seed/series-A) may apply. Generally, we are looking for “late” early stage companies that have at least a working prototype and are ready to do a pilot project with one of our corporate partners. If you have more traction and first paying customers – even better!
- How are the applications evaluated?
Your team is the most important element. We look at the founders to see if they exhibit traits that we believe are vital for start-up success; such as tenacity, strong technical know-how, the ability to clearly explain complicated matters, great product sense and a clear passion for their business. We have found that the most effective founders are able to truly sell their vision and possess adequate foresight for future steps.
If the company is involved in direct sales, we look for vital, strong sales-centric business leaders. Alternatively, if the company is involved in online sales, we look for business founders with a natural ability in acquiring customers, conversion, retention, and design. In essence, we look for businesses that talented people would be excited to join.
Previous enterprise experience is certainly not necessary although always a plus. Aside from your team we also consider market significance. We focus on markets that are large enough to catch the eye of top venture funds. Stellar teams without a clear market focus still have the possibility to be admitted.
- How will I know the status of my application?
If your application is advanced to the next round you will receive notice shortly before the next interview date. Finalists will be invited to pitch at a pitch event with one of our corporate partners. After this meeting you will be notified if you are being offered a place in the accelerator along with the terms of acceptance. You will be asked to respond very quickly (24 hours) if you accept the position, as others will also be waiting for placement.
Please understand that we receive many applications and wish to evaluate each properly, so we ask for your patience during the application period. Please resist the urge to email us about your application status, we will contact you.
- Who is behind the accelerator?
Datev, FESTO, HP Tech Ventures, WACKER, and Wieland are our corporate partners for Batch #19 that back the accelerator. These partners were specifically chosen because of their strong belief in the vision of our program. TechFounders values their feedback and their guidance. It is because of our partnership that we do not take equity.
- Is there a short history of TechFounders and past start-up alumni?
TechFounders was founded in 2015 and has since supported 170 start-ups, including success stories such as ProGlove, KONUX and remberg. The program is part of UnternehmerTUM, the leading center for innovation and business creation. Since 2015 our alumni start-ups have raised over 500 million in financing and created around 3,000 jobs. You can learn more about our alumni here. More about UnternehmerTUM here.
- Must I have an idea to apply?
- I have an idea but no team - Can I apply as well?
Yes, but frankly finding a team is half the battle. Find yourself a strong team and execute!
- What happens when I join?
- Each team with a pilot project receives an initial investment of €25K (net)
- You will be provided with office space at UnternehmerTUM in Munich. You will have access to our open space
- Meetings with several entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and other experts are arranged. This includes people who are interested in helping you build your business and core focus on customers acquisition as well as venture capitalists who will provide business/product advice
- There will be several pitch trainings throughout the program, as well as individual coaching sessions and workshops with other start-ups
- There is a Demo Day (and fantastic after party) at the end of the program where you will have the opportunity to pitch to the top funding sources. There will also be guest lectures, mentor meetings, and other networking opportunities during the program
- Why would corporate partners invest in start-ups without equity?
Our corporate partners are always on the lookout for new and innovative concepts and start-ups. Start-ups are often more agile than established companies. Through TechFounders, our partner companies have the opportunity to get to know your start-up in an early stage.
- How much does it cost?
Nothing! TechFounders takes no fees and zero equity. Our corporate partners finance the program.
- Should international founders apply?
Absolutely! We are very keen on accepting founders from all over the globe and many of our alumni are from abroad. However, if the travel and safety regulations allow, we require founders to be physically present at TechFounders during the 2 presence weeks of the program. We encourage you to apply!
- I have further questions... who should I contact?
Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information. We are more than happy to answer all your questions.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, please resist to mail us regarding the status of your application or an evaluation of your start-up prior to your application. Due to the high number of applicants, we unfortunately won’t be able to answer them.