The business executive breakfast organized by Digital Hub FrankfurtRheinMain e.V. offered an opportunity to association members and interested parties to gain some insight regarding startup tendencies in Frankfurt. Mr. Ingo Franz, CEO of Creathor Venture Management GmbH (www.creathor.de), offered an impressive interactive presentation (Presentation Creathor Venture Mai 15th 2013) engaging participants on his brief tour of the venture capital world, giving insights into international startup development trends. As a venture capital company, Creathor Venture tries to invest in fast growing, international companies, and has been doing so for over two decades.
FrankfurtRheinMain does not only impress with its highly available digital infrastructures, but also with the proximity of the creative industries, software developers and financiers to the large international conglomerates in various industries. The largest marketing club in Germany and its network of media professionals is headquartered here, and what's more, FrankfurtRheinMain has a large share of export intensive key industries. Over forty percent of the largest companies in Hesse have their regional headquarters located in the city of Frankfurt am Main. Another forty percent are located in the communities surrounding the metropolitan region.
However, Frankfurt is not on the international startup scene radar. Silicon Valley, New York and Los Angeles are at the top of the list, and in Europe, London is still in the leading position. Overall, there may be less startup hype in FrankfurtRheinMain than in other places in Europe, but the local startup scene is still very lively and there are many thriving quality and interesting business models in our metropolitan region in comparison. An increase in international visibility is necessary and FrankfurtRheinMain could learn a lot from the developments in London and position itself in a sensible and pragmatic way.
The association member DE-CIX together with the WJ-Wirtschaftsjunioren Frankfurt am Main (junior business chamber) have supported the startupbootcamp (www.startupbootcamp.org) prior to the event "Open Pitch Day" in order to promote the visibility of Frankfurt as a blue chip startup scene. Eleven startup teams presented at Open Pitch Day, ten of them being from Frankfurt or the Rhein-Main region.
The business ideas reached from classic Internet infrastructure and application topics such as mobile apps, eCommerce, software and cloud to innovative financial services. Today, the term cloud computing is often used synonymous to the Internet, because over the last years it has permanently transformed itself due to the offered applications and changed user habits. Whereas in the nineties applications such as computer connections, search engines queries or email had priority, in the last few years the use of collaborative applications and eCommerce portals, interacive platforms, video streaming and mobile social media applications has increased. Cloud computing is a major technology basis for building the European digital market of over 500 million users.
Many business models that were presented at Open Pitch Day address the German market as a first step, but some have already incorporated an expansion to foreign markets such as the USA, Australia, Singapore at a very early stage in the business development. Startup teams examples from FrankfurtRheinMain are Bettervest (crowdfunding financing, renewable energy), JC Analytics (software, financial services), Cogia Intelligence (cloud software, social media analytics), TedX (event management), Vaamo (web services, financial services), flirtshare (web service, dating) or BCB – Biometric Credit Bureau (software, financial services).
The high quality of the Open Pitch Day presentations as well as the the subsequent discussions with participants, mentors, and the startupbootcamp founder, Alex Farcet, confirm the insights of Mr. Franz's presentation.
The startup scene in FrankfurtRheinMain mustn't fear the European comparison. Frankfurt has quite a bit to offer compared to the Berlin scene among others: Not only fast access to investors and the capital market, but also interesting business models, creative talent, and motivated startup teams. Whether the Berlin "turning startups into millionaires in 24 months" approach will spawn commercially successful companies is anyone's guess. The development of a startup culture and scene cannot be compared to a sprint, but is more like a marathon. Many don't reach the finish line. A region like FrankfurtRheinMain needs patience and endurance in order to be able to accomplish a sustainable startup culture. The basic elements for a lively startup scene are already in place in FrankfurtRheinMain.