Gründer Garage – a Startup Contest with a Difference

By David Knight |

It’s good to see Internet giants like Google getting to grips with the startup scene in Berlin – and the company, which has become increasingly active in the German capital, is now part of a new startup competition and academy called Gründer Garage (Gründer is German for founder).

The project is being run in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship Foundation and crowd-funding platform Indiegogo in three stages, and is not only aimed at tech ideas but all parts of society, such as cultural, environmental and social issues.

Once the best ideas have been selected and invited into the ‘Garage’, they will receive training from the Entrepreneurship Foundation in August before being challenged to raise their first capital on Indiegogo. The most successful fundraisers (but not necessarily those with the most money) will then be awarded match funding of up to €10,000 from a total pot of €150,000 provided by Google.

Gründer Garage was launched at a press conference held Google’s Berlin HQ on Unter den Linden on Thursday which included Professor Günter Faltin from the Entrepreneurship Foundation and Danae Ringelmann, COO and founder of Indiegogo.

Prof. Faltin told the assembled journalists that he believed there were many people out there who wanted to be more entrepreneurial, and that this was a great way to help them achieve that – not only in tech, but in other areas too.

He said: “Diversity drives innovation – that is a good point right here in Berlin. We must not imitate Silicon Valley; we have a completely different culture in Europe and in Germany. Not copying Silicon Valley; it’s diversity that drives innovation.”

Ringelmann, meanwhile, began by giving a brief explanation of crowd-funding – the Statue of Liberty being one of the earliest examples. She then explained how, after the potential startups undergo training during August, they will then battle each other on Indiegogo. The winner will be the most ‘meritocratic,’ she said.

“The most thing which really sets us apart is that Indiegogo is a meritocracy. What this means is that people are not promoted or shown based on favoritism; what happens is that we have algorithms on our site which create a Gogo factor which measures a campaign’s activity as well as the community’s responsiveness. What’s exciting about this competition is that that is how the winners will be defined.”

According to Dr. Wieland Holfelder, head of development at Google German, innovation is the key to sustainable success in Germany’s economy: “The Gründer Garage will show that fostering Internet innovation can even help with financing.”

It’s great to see the likes of Google doing something positive for the startup scene – and at the press conference it was promised that Gründer Garage was just the start. And in another sign that they have their finger on the tech pulse, participants who successfully submit an idea will receive a free week pass for Campus Party in August.