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Axel Springer Plug and Play kicks off in Berlin – meet the accelerator's first eight startups Written by Michelle Kuepper on 17. June 2013

The eight startups in the first three-month Axel Springer Plug and Play accelerator programme have officially been announced. They include a mix of businesses – from a payment solutions for teenagers to an app that improves the quality of music for your headphones and a last-minute ticketing service.


From their office in Markgrafenstraße, Berlin, opposite Axel Springer’s main complex, the teams will be working towards a demo day on 5 September where they’ll pitch to investors. They’ll be using their time in the accelerator to work with more than 60 mentors including Philipp Möhring from Seedcamp, Philippa Pauen from Wummelkiste, Ramzi Rizk from EyeEm and Renaud Visage from Eventbrite.

Each team in the programme receives €25,000 in startup funding, with Axel Springer taking a five per cent shareholding in each of the companies. Plus, the startups get access to Springer’s extensive network to boost their connections and get advice from their experts – participants said that Axel Springer is very hands-on and involved in the programme. They’ve got a cooperation with coworking space Betahaus too, so the startups can attend the workshops run there plus use the space for a month after the programme ends.

The team at the accelerator aren’t messing around – the next round of the programme will already kick off in October this year.


Ulrich Schmitz, CTO at Axel Springer and the accelerator’s Managing Director, said: “All the companies participating in Axel Springer Plug and Play have completed the startup phase and have already developed prototypes or market-tested business models. Now these companies need to take the next crucial steps, to win over more customers and investors. Together with our network, we will support them by playing the role of sparring partners.”

Schmitz said that while they are mostly interested in startups that have something to do with the media industry, they were open to businesses in other areas taking part in the programme too.

At the end of the programme, some of the startups will fly to Silicon Valley to the original Plug and Play Tech Center, which Axel Springer is collaborating with for its accelerator in Berlin. Schmitz said how many will go over will be determined closer to the date.

A rundown of the eight startups:

  • Asuum: A platform for discovering relevant products curated by a scalable technology
  • eflear: An online flea market for antique and vintage furniture, with the option of sending search orders to dealers
  • mpax: Provider of a payment app, through which retailers can also grant discounts to reinforce customer loyalty
  • nextsocial: A SaaS startup which lets brands, labels or sports clubs sell special offers to their fans on Facebook – they can set the deals up in two clicks
  • papayer: A payment app for teens and their parents, through which parents can control the amount on the teen’s card via their smartphone or online
  • Solid Sound Labs: A software program that improves the sound quality of music to suit specific headphones, docking stations and speakers
  • TickTickTickets: A mobile app which features the major events of the week and lets users purchase last-minute tickets, that are then stored directly on user’s smartphone
  • ZenGuard: A one-click solution which uses a lightweight browser plug-in to allow users to surf the net securely, using encryption

Last year, for the first time Axel Springer’s digital segment overtook its print offerings in revenue-making – so the media corporation’s interest in new companies in the digital sphere makes sense as it transitions from old media to new.

For related posts, check out

Axel Springer’s Plug and Play accelerator partners up with Betahaus
Corporate Germany’s love affair with startups: Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator opens for applications
Axel Springer’s digital media activities overtake print for the first time