Berlin’s Rocket Accelerator takes off

Startup accelerator leads the pack with expected handsome flotation price
As the Accelerator, until recently essentially a ‘pop-up’ phenomenon, begins to morph into Accelerator organisations, an initial public offering in a leading example in Berlin suggests that they are becoming valuable investments, and marks out a path that others will certainly follow.
Berlin-based startup Accelerator Rocket Internet has just sold a slice of its business, ahead of a flotation will which value it at c.€6.2bn – substantially more than early estimates. What marks it out is its clear and specific focus – on three areas: ecommerce, online market places and money services – businesses that ‘serve universal basic needs leading to universal basic industries’ – in Germany and beyond; among the buyers of the IPO was Philippines Long Distance Telephone.
Accelerators, which started as 12-week intensive development programmes for around a dozen hopeful startups, continue to proliferate, but are also beginning to become institutionalised (Techstars/Wayra Lab/Startupbootcamp) – as viable independent businesses whose mission is the support of early-stage ventures.
Rocket was started in 2007 by two brothers; it has had funding from a Swedish VC and a Russian billionaire; and it often draws in outside co-investors where the path to profitability is a long one – it plans to put some of the proceeds of its IPO into its existing investments. It has accumulated interests in some 70 businesses, and done several significant timely deals. It claims, as do other accelerator organisations, to have created a platform that has industrialised the process of building startups; and it has aspirations to become the biggest internet group outside the US and China. But its success is seen as uncertain; its flotation is not based on what are regarded as conventional criteria in Germany; and it is not popular there. (See also http://www.ft.com/companies)

See also:
Accelerators: onward, upward and outward http://wp.me/p3beJt-8Q
Upcoming:
Getting advice – sources of support in incubators; and
A ‘Pop-up’ Accelerator alongside the latest co-working space.

John Whatmore
October 2014

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