Global Perspectives on Early Stage Startups: Leading European Accelerator Visits UVA Darden
By Dave Hendrick
Directors from APX, a Berlin-based venture accelerator visited the University of Virginia Darden School of Business recently to share a European perspective on venture creation and acceleration with students and faculty, further strengthening the ties between the School and Europe’s startup community. Hosted by the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club with support from Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the presentation was part of a weeklong series of events focused on entrepreneurship and innovation .
A joint venture of automotive company Porsche and German media conglomerate Axel Springer, APX has been a highlight of Darden’s Executive MBA European residency for many years. Having established close ties with Professors Lynn Isabella and Andy Wicks, APX directors Jörg Rheinboldt and Henric Hungerhoff were eager to visit Darden to expand relationships with students and faculty.
During the panel, Global Perspectives on Venture Accelerators, Rheinboldt and Hungerhoff explained the orientation of the accelerator. While broadly interested in the digital space, they described APX as sector-agnostic, welcoming startups in mobility, travel, media, finance and healthcare, among others.
“Our focus is user-centric business models,” Rheinboldt said. “We can pretty much invest into anything.”
Startups selected for their 100-day program receive preseed or seed funding of €25,000 or €100,000, respectively; APX takes an equity stake that does not exceed 5 percent.
Similar to Darden’s i.Lab Incubator program, APX‘s 100-day accelerator offers mentors, workshops and access to a network of other ventures, both new and veteran. Portfolio companies also receive six months of office space after the initial 100 days.
APX aims to invest in 40 companies a year, and focuses on Europe and Israel. The founders said they have seen a ramp up in applications from the United Kingdom, and speculate ventures are seeking ways to break into the European market ahead of Brexit.
The winnowing questions used by the team at APX are likely familiar to startups around the world, with the directors saying prospective ventures tend to be considered through the lens of:
- Why You?
- Why Now?
- Why This?
Startups with compelling answers to the questions related to the team, the product and the market outlook are those likeliest to gain entry to the accelerator, which also welcomes nonprofit groups and artists, all in the interest of creating a rich environment for venture development.
“We do not want to be a school for entrepreneurs. We want to be an environment for the entrepreneurs to find shortcuts,” said Hungerhoff. “We just provide opportunities.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia