Next Media Accelerator on How Hamburg Helps Startups Gain Momentum

Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city with 1.8 million people and a metro region of about three million. The city is, of course, known for its seaport, the third-largest in Europe. It’s also among the top three locations for the aviation industry in the world. Hamburg prides itself as “The Gate to the World” and is home to all branches of the economy, ranging from aviation to maritime and logistics, as well as the creative and media industry. Among the city’s leading companies are global players such as Airbus, Otto Group, Beiersdorf AG (Nivea), Helm AG, Hapag-Lloyd, and many others. Or, to put it into perspective: Hamburg is the second-largest city in the fourth largest economy of the world.

Both the economic and the cultural landscapes of Hamburg are very diverse: From buzzing party district, Reeperbahn, where the Beatles started their career, to the new and amazing Elbphilharmonie, the concert hall that quickly became the city’s landmark.

It is worth both the visit and the stay.

But Wait, There’s More

The city is a frontrunner in science and technology—the University of Hamburg was recently awarded “University of Excellence” by the ministry of education and science. Major international research institutions such as the XFEL and DESY are based here and the European Commission has awarded Hamburg the title of “Innovation Leader.”

Hamburg provides a strong infrastructure in logistics and commerce, as well as media. All of the branches are running successful accelerator programs, which benefit from the international trade relations and flair of the metro region. According to Hamburg Startup Monitor 2018, more than 660 young companies are to be found in the harbour city. Leading innovation hubs such as Next Media Accelerator (NMA), Next Commerce Accelerator, Next Logistics Accelerator, Airbus BizLab Accelerator, Social Impact Lab Hamburg, and successful incubators like Hanse Ventures and Media Lift are attracting entrepreneurs from all over the world. Furthermore, more than two dozen Coworking spaces (Betahaus, Mindspace, WeWork, Beehive, etc.) are providing an ideal infrastructure for founders. Successful startups like About You, XING, Bigpoint, InnoGames, Jimdo,, Tipp24 and Free Now (formerly MyTaxi) started their journey in Hamburg.

Hamburg gets ranked among the “best to live” cities across the globe frequently, as the city offers many attractions, has a strong cultural life, plenty of nature nearby and two coasts to visit. The hidden gem far up North is only a two-hour train ride away from VC Capital and startup epicenter Berlin and, combined, both metro regions are about eight million people strong.

The Media Sector and NMA—Both Going Strong

Digitalization helps Hamburg thrive: Over the last two decades, the city and its metro region gained more and more importance as a business location for digital media companies. It is now home to numerous prestigious offices of global players in the digital media industry. Facebook, Google, Snap, Twitter, and Dropbox are based in the city—just to name a few.

Hamburg is the media capital of Germany and the city provides an excellent infrastructure for startups and founders targeting the media industry and beyond.

Here is where the next media accelerator (NMA) comes into play—it represents the combination of the “old” media world of newspaper and TV and the “new” rising, fast-moving, technology-driven startup ecosystem. Initiated in 2015, NMA is an independent accelerator funded by over 30 media companies and agencies in Germany and Austria.

The company is designed to offer innovation as a service to established media houses and also serves as an investor for startups bound to disrupt the media industry. Due to close relations to media companies and agencies, the NMA makes it easy for the startups to enter the German market. A high-quality network of mentors and investors offers the ideal prerequisites for successful business scaling.

Among NMA investors are the leading publishing and media houses in Germany and Austria, such as Der Spiegel, Axel Springer, and Die Zeit. The NMA serves as an entry point for startups to connect with established companies. NMA has developed a method for connecting startups with corporates called easy testing that makes it easy (ha!) for startups to get their first pilots started with corporates, oftentimes leading to a client relationship later on.

The alumni network consists of more than 50 companies and the accelerator is currently running its ninth batch. Among the startups are many that are scaling across Europe and the US already. Here is a selection:

Spectrm is the easiest way to create powerful chatbots people love. The conversational marketing platform lets companies automate conversations that engage and convert more customers with an end-to-end chatbot platform. RedBull, CNN, and Ubisoft, as well as Deutsche Telekom and the German Army are some of their customers. is doing predictive video analytics based on AI. The startup founded by Eugen Gross and Aleksander Koleski is currently working with clients that span from Europe to Brazil and the US.

By providing a very easy-to-use platform for the wildly popular Story format, Cutnut makes it easy for newsrooms and marketing departments alike to use the Story Format. The Story Editor is specifically tailored toward the visualization and production of high-quality vertical story content in both AMP-stories and social media stories. The founders Teiko Wilenius, Benjamin Ranft, and Philipp Nette were listed in the “Forbes 30 Under 30” in the “Media & Marketing” category in Europe this year.

Founded by Charlotte Richter-Kiewning, THE DISTRIQT is a digital publisher with a video-only platform for female Millennials: original video-entertainment full of humor, realness, and intellect. The platform is aspiring to be the Netflix for women in terms of high-quality content.

The NMA sets a focus on diversity in its batches – the applications come in from all over Europe and Israel, with more and more teams founded by women applying. For instance, the most recent batch, Batch 8, was a great success in terms of diversity—60 % of the founders were female!

Accelerators Unite—GAN in Hamburg

NMA has been a part of GAN for around two years now and we are very much looking forward to exchanging knowledge, networking, and connecting with the other members of the network in person at the GAN Momentum Tour from October 7th to October 10th. It will be crucial for our startups to explore and inquire about further market entry opportunities as well as setting sail for further scaling and accelerating.

Join us in Hamburg on Thursday, October 10th for GAN Momentum Day, open to startup founders and supporters. Find your tickets here.