Starter Kit

Starting capital

For an idea to become reality, the financing of the business venture needs to be well planned. The calculation of the required starting capital is part of the business plan and takes place at the beginning of the founding process. The respective capital requirements depend on various factors. Among other things, the cost of renting the workplace, planned investments for the company, the planned marketing budget and, if necessary, personnel costs are crucial in determining the required level of capital.
Hamburg offers several public and private funding opportunities that can help you access the necessary financial resources. These differ in terms of funding levels, conditions and often also in terms of effort in applying. Before deciding on a financing method, entrepreneurs should fully acquaint themselves with the available options and conditions.

Common types of financial assistance include loans (with or without guarantees), equity, grants, as well as consultancy allowances. Private financing often takes the form of investments by venture capitalists (VC) or business angels, incubators and accelerator programmes as well as crowdfunding and crowd investing.
During the early stage, support from friends and family as well as bootstrapping are particularly widespread. Bootstrapping means that a business is started using one’s own resources, without external help or capital.

Start-up financing
General information on financing a start-up including the main federal government support programmes
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Financing & funding
Information about financing and funding opportunities with focus on equity, borrowed capital and funding programmes
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Financing finder
Database for funding and financing options for projects and start-ups in the creative industry (This website only exists in German)
Hamburger Kreativ Gesellschaft

Public funding

Founders in Germany can gain access to public financial assistance at local, national and EU levels. Such financial aid aims to provide systematic support to founders and start-up businesses. The most common types of public financial support are loans (with or without guarantees), equity, grant programmes as well as consultancy allowances (cf. “further options”). As financing terms and criteria may vary considerably, founders are advised to review the relevant details well in advance.

Funding programmes
Overview of funding programmes (loans, grants, guarantees and investments) which are particularly popular among start-ups in Hamburg
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

InnoRampUp (subsidy)
InnoRampUp is a funding programme supporting innovative start-ups in Hamburg in their early stage. The start-up has to meet following requirements: it has to be no more than two years old, it is not allowed to employ more than 50 people, and the annual turnover must be less than 10 Mio. €. The maximum amount of the funding is 150.000€. (This website only exists in German)
IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH

Innovationsstarter Fonds
Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg (Hamburg fund for innovative entrepreneurs) invests risk capital in innovative Hamburg businesses in order to strengthen their research and development capabilities. The fund offers shares in limited companies up to a maximum of 1 million euros. (This website only exists in German)
IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH

Hamburg-Loan Innovation
Low-interest loan focused on financing equipment and investments between 100,000 euro and 1,5 million euro, for (amongst others) young innovative start-ups (this website only exists in German)
Hamburgische Investions- und Förderbank

This programme offers a loan guarantee to entrepreneurs in Hamburg who are asking for a loan from their house bank. (This website only exists in German)
Bürgschaftsgemeinschaft Hamburg GmbH

High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF)
Germany’s seed stage investor. HTGF invests venture capital in technology companies
High-Tech Gründerfonds

Funding instrument at European level (SME instrument)
Innovative small and medium-sized enterprises can get a financial investment of up to €2,5 million as well as support in the form of business coaching enabled by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program
European Commission

Startup competitions
Start-up competitions are another possibility to receive financial and non-financial funding. This website lists some federal and regional competitions. (This website only exists in German)
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Award for the best digital start-ups from the greater Hamburg area

EIT Digital Challenge
An annual contest in the areas Digital Industry, Digital Cities, Digital Wellbeing &  Digital Infrastructure. The „EIT Digital Challenge“ offers access to a broad ecosystem of partners, internationalisation support, participation in an event in Berlin, complimentary publicity and visibility and the possibility to join the EIT Digital Accelerator (see: accelerators). The winner of each category receives 50,000 Euro.
EIT Digital

Venture Capital & Business Angels

Venture capital is a form of investment in which an investor provides a founder with capital in exchange for a stake in his or her company. Venture capital is not a loan, but rather a kind of “development aid” for start-up businesses. It entails high risk for the investor, since the success of a business cannot be guaranteed, i.e. the investor might not generate any profits with his investment or might even lose it altogether. The stake to be claimed in exchange for capital depends on the company’s lifecycle stage (i.e. seed stage, early stage or later stage) as well as the enterprise valuation – these are the two decisive factors that determine the investor’s investment risk.
In many cases, the investor’s involvement goes beyond purely financial participation: information, control and participation rights may also be part of the agreement.
Business angels usually invest in start-ups during their early stage. Here it is often the case that an individual (e.g. a successful entrepreneur) invests resources from his or her own private assets. Beyond investment, business angels often support the founder with their expertise and relevant contacts.

Venture Capital
General information about Venture Capital in Germany
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

Venture Capital firms in Hamburg
Industry overview of venture capital firms in Hamburg (This website only exists in German)
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

Venture Capital finder
Database, which helps finding relevant venture firms (according to the investment criteria of the venture capital firms) (This website only exists in German)
German Private Equity and Venture Capital Association e.V. (BVK)

Investor search
Detailed information about private equity and venture capital, including a search tool for investors in Europe
Invest Europe

NOAH15 Berlin fund book
Industry overview of venture capital firms focusing on internet companies across all stages (includes company portraits, figures& KPIs, contact partners, portfolio, etc.)

Early Stage VC Investor for innovative Internet Startups, supporting startups as a partner with know-how in technology, sales/marketing and finance

Business Angel network
A network of business angels that provides information on finding and getting financed by a business angel
Business Angel Netzwerk Deutschland

Business incubators and accelerators

An accelerator is a fixed-term programme aimed at developing existing, but very young start-up business models in a sustainable way. Businesses that make it through the application process, which is often highly selective, can benefit from seed funding and a solid network of mentors in exchange for a small stake in the company. The focus here lies on scaling the business model.

An incubator is a programme aimed at developing and establishing new enterprises. Many of these programmes have a focus on a particular market, and it is often the case that they emerge from an established company. The focus here is on generating technical innovations.

In terms of contents, “company builder“ programmes are fairly similar to incubator programmes. Company builders provide a type of support in which the investor is actively involved in the design phase and in the birth of a company and continues to provide advisory input beyond the early stage of the business.


next media accelerator (nma)
A six months acceleration programme for start-ups  active in areas related to media, such as content for media, advertising or services. The programme accompanies start-ups with intensive training and counselling, support by mentors and investors (of the accelerator). It also provides an investment of up to 50,000 Euros. Moreover, free workplaces at betahaus Hamburg and support in finding follow-up funding is offered.
next media accelerator GmbH

Next Commerce Accelerator
During the six month programme, the startups will work together with mentors on scalable business models in the field of e-commerce, e.g. Software Services, Marketplaces and Platforms. An investment up to 50,000 Euros and free workplaces at betahaus Hamburg are also provided.
Next Commerce Accelerator

Next Logistics Accelerator
The Next Logistics Accelerator offers a Hamburg-based 6-month acceleration program (plus a one-month optional exchange in Shanghai) for innovative LogTech and IoT Start-Ups who want to test their products with first clients, gain world-class training, develop an international network and optimize chances for follow-on funding.
Next Logistics Accelerator

Music WorX Accelerator
A programme that helps to evolve business models within the music field during a period of three months. The programme offers free workspace at betahaus Hamburg and weekly workshops on various start-up topics. Moreover, a monthly cost-of-living allowance of 500 Euros per person is granted as well as 5.000 Euros per start-up team.
Music Worx Hamburg

Airbus BizLab - aerospace accelerator
A global business accelerator with comprehensive support for early-stage start-ups with innovative concepts applicable to the aeronautical sector. During six-month Airbus offers access to experts from various fields and a dedicated mentor as well as free office space and the possibility to use its prototyping and test facilities. Besides, a demo day with Airbus decision makers, partners, subsidiaries, customers and venture capital is also offered.

comdirect Start-up Garage
Three-month support for start-up ideas in the finance industry. comdirect offers 10.000 Euros for i.e. workspace and market research in a very early start-up stage. The direct bank does not request any shares in return. Access to their customers, support by banking experts and infrastructure is also offered. Following the completion of the programme’s duration, there is a possibility of a partnership between the start-up and comdirect.

Social Impact Lab
German support programme for founders with socially innovative ideas (prior to official foundation). The Social Impact Lab grant amounts to the equivalent of 12.500 Euros and includes free workspace, training and coaching as well as matching with relevant contacts and potential funding partners.
Social Impact Lab

Business Development Accelerator (BDA)
The accelerator supports European digital ventures to scale up their business in Europe and beyond. For up to 24 months start-ups can benefit from tailor made support with a special emphasis on access to market and finance. No equity is taken in return but a support fee incurs.
EIT Digital

German Accelerator
Assistance in entering the US market. Free of charge and without the submission of equity, mentors, office space, a network as well as knowledge and expertise are offered. The New York location is, among other, focussed on media and advertising business models.
German Accelerator

Business Incubators & Company Builders

Consultant, strategic investor and venture capitalist with a focus on young startups and already established companies in the digital domain. Provides close collaboration with the campus at the site in Chiang Mai (Thailand) and access to the Southeast Asian market

Greenhouse Innovation Lab
The Greenhouse Innovation Lab is the incubator and innovation lab of international media group Gruner + Jahr. It promotes internal ideas as well as external start-ups (This website only exists in German)
Gruner + Jahr

Hanse Ventures
Company builder with a focus on business concepts in the field of internet and mobile. Hanse Ventures supports start-ups with relevant resources and a network of investors and business partners. Moreover, start-ups receive support by Hanse Ventures experts in the areas of programming, design, online marketing, public relations and human resources.
Hanse Ventures

TruVenturo is a company builder and independent investor with the intention of developing innovative start-ups.  The focus is primarily on international scalable Internet business models. They provide start-ups with a seed investment and if necessary further investment as well as growth financing, if strategically valuable.

Crowdfunding/Equity crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a type of investment in which a number of private individuals join forces to provide financial support for the realisation of projects, products or business ideas. Projects are promoted through online platforms. Great care should be applied in preparing the online presentation, which is to include a minimum amount to be raised by a given date. If this sum is not raised within the specified time frame, the respective project will not be realised and any supporters will have their investment amount refunded. Crowdfunding is not aimed at generating financial gains; the goal is to implement projects that are close to one’s heart.

Equity crowdfunding (in German Crowdinvesting) means that a large number of individuals (e.g. micro-investors or investors) invest mostly low amounts of money in a new enterprise. The relevant start-up is promoted via an online platform, which also facilitates the investment transaction. If the business is making good progress, the individual investors will receive a return and thus benefit from the company's success.

Crowdfunding Information Portal
Comprehensive information on crowdfunding types, platforms , as well as legal and practical advice (this website only exists in German)
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

A crowdfunding platform for projects of Hamburg’s creative industry. (This website is only partly in English)
Hamburger Kreativgesellschaft

Crowdfunding regulation
Information about the crowdfunding regulation in Germany (the UK, Italy and Spain)
European Crowdfunding Network

Further options

Support to start-up businesses is not confined to direct financial aid; there are other options too. These include bootstrapping, i.e. the elimination of external financing and the establishment of a start-up using the founder’s own resources. This type of financing is widely used especially in the early stage of a business.

Another option is the participation of an individual or a company through services rather than direct financial support. Here, common formats include "brain for equity" and "media for equity", in which experts contribute their knowledge and media companies contribute media services, respectively.

There are also subsidies provided for specific programmes for founders and those interested in starting up a business.

Bootstrap financing
An analysis of different bootstrapping ideas for start-up financing
Entrepreneur Media

Media for equity
An explanation of the alternative funding concept Media for Equity.  Also the GMPVC German Media Pool offers a pool of advertising inventory by several media partners for start-ups
GMPVC German Media Pool

Through digital crowdsourcing platforms a group of voluntary supporters can be accessed, which can contribute creative input to projects (This website only exists in German)
Overview crowdsourcing platforms



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