Accelerator Frankfurt was founded in 2016 by Ram Shoham and Maria Pennanen, based on their first-hand experience working for corporates that struggled to form partnerships with start-ups. Their unique go-to-market program accelerates B2B software startups in the fields of Fintech, Regtech, Cybersecurity, Insuretech, Proptech and Blockchain. The startups receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and investors, consulting and professional services, in addition to a co-working space. “We wanted to set up this program as an interface for corporates and startups,” says Ram Shoham, co-founder of Accelerator Frankfurt. The program focuses on FinTech because of their professional backgrounds and Frankfurt’s draw as a financial centre, but also accepts startups in Cybersecurity, Blockchain, RegTech and more. Accelerator Frankfurt also powers the Blockchain Labs, which help corporates get access and education to blockchain technologies.
We asked Ram Shoham in an exclusive Interview: What does the path from the Garage to the Financial Centre Frankfurt look like?
Accelerator Frankfurt in 3 sentences: What makes the success of Accelerator Frankfurt GmbH?
We are the gateway to Germany’s financial sector for start-ups. We help advanced stage start-ups, who have paying customers and products break into the German market through our three-month, sales-focused acceleration program.
What impresses you the most when talking to young founders?
We have accelerated thirty startups since 2016 and screened thousands of founders before accepting anyone to the program. The founders we work with, all have one thing in common: Passion. We only select founders who love what they do. Running a startup is very stressful and intense. You must love what you do if want to achieve great things.
What is the typical path from the garage to the Financial Centre Frankfurt? Is there a single path? What hurdles must start-ups master?
There is not one typical path. Some start-ups are disruptive, some are complementary. We primarily focus on Business-to-Business (B2B) solutions. This means that for our start-ups to succeed, partnerships with the banks must be formed. For this, one needs perseverance because the sales cycles can be quite lengthy, but the rewards also quite great.Frankfurt has become a FinTech hub, above all due to its proximity to established banks.
How would you describe the current FinTech ecosystem in Frankfurt?
When we first established Accelerator Frankfurt, there was hardly a start-up ecosystem in the city. We were the first accelerator in Frankfurt and certainly the first to attract international start-ups to the city. Nowadays, we are delighted to see the network effect this has had on the city. There is certainly more vibe, more complementary programs and hopefully, in the near future, more Venture Capital funds investing in Frankfurt’s start-ups.
What future challenges face the Frankfurt FinTech ecosystem? And what opportunities arise from this?
The main challenge for Frankfurt is banks becoming more open to new innovations. FinTechs are gaining traction in the financial world, especially blockchain solutions. Still, there remains huge potential for banks to work alongside these innovative start-ups.
Do you have a favourite start-up? Alternatively: Which start-up was your first? What impressed you the most in your career?
I do not have favourite start-ups. I have favourite entrepreneurs, and those are the people who inspire me every day. So far, the biggest lesson in my career is that hard work puts you, where good luck can find you. There is some element of being in the right place at the right time.
Why is Frankfurt the ideal location for (FinTech) start-ups?
Over 240 banks. Good airport. Rich environment. Good universities and talent.
About Ram Shoham
Ram Shoham is to Fintechs what George Martin was to the Beatles. He is the Founder of Accelerator Frankfurt with 16 years of international corporate experience in finance and general management before becoming an entrepreneur. Ram is also the Founder of the Blockchain Labs, which is focused on building an ecosystem for promoting blockchain technologies and education in this sector.