Plug into Berlin’s Innovation Network Silicon Allee and its recently launched Berlin Founders Fund
Publish Date: September 15th, 2020
NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2020, —
Silicon Allee established in 2011, has since become synonymous with Berlin’s tech ecosystem as its community-driven voice. In 2016, Silicon Allee joined Factory to build a space in the heart of Berlin for the city’s startup community to work, live, connect and grow. Silicon Allee’s mission remains unchanged: to be the best place – online and offline – to experience the Berlin tech scene, and to provide Berlin startups with the resources, networks and voice to gain meaningful international exposure.
When we launched the Berlin Founders Fund (BFF) at the end of 2019 we made a bold claim: “When the shit hits the fan for founders, we want to do what any BFF would do — have their back.”
Well, the shit has really hit the fan.
These are difficult days for early-stage founders. Despite investor claims that they’re still “open for business”, we know several founders who’ve had term sheets pulled. We want founders to know that we’ve still got their back.
Luckily, we’re more agile than some companies and were able to spring into action once the danger became apparent. After settling into our new remote work environments, we challenged ourselves to look at how the startup community was affected and if there was something we could do to help. Instead of creating (yet another) survival kit for COVID-19, or sharing a list of our team’s top remote resources, we realized we have an outsized opportunity to provide real support in these uncertain times. So, we’re doubling down on our promise.
We’re still here to extend your runway.
When we launched BFF, we knew its structure would provide founders with more runway before “selling” equity. In an uncertain post-pandemic environment, this will be more important than ever. We’re excited to continue backing founders with equity-free capital.
As VCs pull term sheets, we’re accelerating ours.
It’s a small ecosystem — so naturally, we’re all beginning to hear the rumors: slashed valuations, investors ghosting founders and the potential of LPs in funds unable to meet drawdowns. In this unique time, we’ve decided to double down on funding founders. Founders who are facing tough times are being fast-tracked right now, and we’re working hard to speed up our review process remotely (you can pitch BFF here). Initially, we set out to fund 30 founders over the course of two years. Now we’ve set a goal to achieve this in one.
We’re committing to helping founders with their “Corona Pivot”.
In the past weeks, we’ve noticed the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on early-stage companies. Despite some having lost all the traction and user retention they had in their minimum viable product (MVP) most are quickly shipping new features to respond to current market needs (think remote work, online learning, etc.). We’ve been amazed by the overall adaptability and positivity of the entrepreneurs we’re speaking with. Our team is tapping into our vast network to lend personal support and work alongside BFF founders to see the opportunity in this crisis.
Pre-pandemic crowds filled up our event spaces to hear advice from founders in our network such as Wetransfer cofounder, Nalden. These events are all going digital now.
We’re fast-tracking companies that make a difference.
When we launched BFF one of the most frequently asked questions from founders was “What kind of companies do you invest in?” We answered, “Anything that impresses us and touches us emotionally.” And right now, emotions are at the forefront, so we want to focus on companies creating change for good in these uncertain times. We’re on the lookout for passionate founders who want to help provide digital health and learning technologies, combat misinformation and support communities, as well as other impact-driven concepts.
We’re building something different.
Since our launch, we’ve always strived to build something unique and have actively avoided becoming another accelerator copycat. To be honest, this all started with a bit of a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to prove that a government-backed product like BFF could sit alongside private sector offerings. This remains, but we collectively feel a new responsibility. At a time when fundraising is on lockdown, we have a model to offer support. Our vision remains the same, but methods must change. Rolling with the punches brought on by COVID-19 will only help us build something more impactful, more unique and hopefully, in the end, a better product for early-stage founders.
Let’s remind ourselves that some of the biggest brands in the world today were founded after the 2008 financial crisis.
An unstable market can bring out the best qualities of entrepreneurs. Over the next months, we at the Berlin Founders Fund, are eager to continue evolving and working with exciting early-stage founders in Berlin and around Europe. We’re also incredibly grateful to the European Social Fund and City of Berlin for entrusting us with this funding to do amazing things in these uncertain times.
Authors: Jeremy Bamberg and Travis Todd, supported by the Silicon Allee Berlin Founders Fund team: Stephanie von Behr, Florin Chici, Andrew Haw and Florian Rosendahl. The Berlin Founders Fund BFF) is funded by the European Union (European Social Fund) and the State of Berlin.
STEPHANIE VON BEHR
Head of Brand Communications
Silicon Allee UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
10115 Berlin, Germany