Every startup has to deal with the issue of financing. Costs for founding, working space, employees and equipment usually come together from day one. To cover financial needs, startups can take different routes. The following information provides an overview of different options for financing startups:
1. Startup financing with government funding
The government supports startup founders with different grant programs for starting a company. Some examples:
- Students, graduates and academics who want to make their startup idea a reality have the opportunity to apply for the Exist Startup Grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Depending on the applicants’ university degrees, it’s possible to receive funding ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 euros each month. The funding is provided for a maximum period of one year.
- The Bavarian government offers the Bavarian Program to support Technology-oriented Startups (BayTOU), which assists startups with the development of their products, processes and services. Select young companies receive a grant amounting to a maximum of three percent of the eligible costs for the concept stage and 45 percent for a development project. For software developments, the maximum funding amounts to 150,000 euros. For technological endeavors, 26,000 euros are available for the concept stage.
- The Flügge Program of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs supports startups from Bavarian universities. It’s aimed towards students, graduates and university employees with an innovative business idea in the manufacturing and service sectors. Grant recipients receive monthly support of 2,500 euros for one year. It is also possible to receive additional material resources and funding for business coaching. Further, the Ministry offers other comprehensive funding options for different target groups and industries.
- Unemployed individuals who would like to become self-employed to end their unemployment have the option of applying for a Startup Grant from the German Federal Employment Agency. It is calculated based on the last unemployment benefit plus 300 euros and is granted for six months. It can be extended for another nine months. The startup grant, however, is a discretionary benefit; there is no legal entitlement to the funding.
A list of many additional state funding programs is available here, and funding programs specifically for Bavaria can be found here.
2. Cash infusions from startup competitions
Another option for bringing in additional money for your business idea is to participate in startup competitions. For example, Baystartup hosts the annual Munich Business Plan Competition. In three stages, startups have the opportunity to present their business idea to an interested audience of investors, experts and entrepreneurs. The competition awards prize money totaling 48,500 euros.
The Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy also offers a program called ‘Start? Zuschuss!’ Competition, which supports technology-oriented startups in the field of digitization during the initial stages. Funding awarded to the winners amounts to a maximum of 36,000 euros.
There are also many interesting competitions open to founders at the national level in Germany, such as the ‘German Entrepreneur Award’, the startup competition ‘Digital Innovation’ or the ‘Breakthrough Award’.
That being said, you shouldn’t base your funding strategy on these options because you can never be sure of winning the competitions. It’s more about promoting your startup with a win.
3. Venture Capital
Startups with a scalable business model can look for venture capitalists. An initial overview of the Munich investor network is available on our map and in this list. Venture capital firms support young companies not only with financing, but also provide essential industry-based expertise and act as a figurehead for startups. They often take a large percentage of company shares in exchange, which they will want to sell off later to make as much profit as possible.
- Young hightech companies can also hope for financing from the government funded High-Tech-Gründerfonds (HTGF). HTGF is Germany’s leading early-stage investor and supports startups with venture capital.
- Startups in the fields of industrial technologies, enterprise software/SaaS or mobility can apply for financing from Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners (UVC Partners). This early-stage capital venture firm concentrates on European tech startups with high-growth B2B business models. The investment amounts for each round of financing range from 500,000 to 3 million euros and up to a total of up to 12 million euros per startup.
- Bayern Kapital also supports hightech startups with venture capital from the seed stage to the growth stage. Depending on which stage the startup is currently in, Bayern Kapital provides large sums of money.
Further information and programs are available from the Munich Network – Network for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the Bundesverband Deutscher Kapitalbeteiligungsgesellschaften (BVK).
4. Startup financing from the crowd
It’s also possible to finance a startup with help from the crowd. That includes the following models:
- Crowdfunding: Investors do not receive financial compensation, but are instead given a reward for their financial support
- Crowddonation: donation-based financial support for humanitarian, creative or social projects without any compensation.
- Crowdinvesting: Investors become shareholders and benefit from subsequent success
- Crowdlending: Loans with a fixed rate of interest granted by private individuals who are paid back their money over an agreed period of time
Some of the best known platforms for crowdfinancing are Gofundme, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Startnext, Steady and 99 Funken. An overview with tips, network information and support options in Munich for crowdfunding can be found here. Additional information about planning a crowdfunding campaign has also been compiled by the Startup Unit of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) for Munich and Upper Bavaria.
5. Bank loans and subsidized loans
An obvious option is to finance your company with a loan. It’s often difficult, however, to receive a standard bank loan for a startup idea if you cannot offer the bank any collateral. In such a case, the Bürgschaftsbank Bayern can help out. Loans for startups are also offered by state financial institutions such as the LfA Förderbank Bayern or KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau). The KfW offers the following options:
- ERP Start-up Loan StartGeld: up to 100,000 euros for full financing
- ERP Capital for Start-ups: up to 500,000 euros for partial financing
- ERP Start-up Loan Universal: also up to 500,000 euros for full financing in Germany and abroad
This kind of loan also has to be applied for through your main bank. It can be helpful to talk with the LfA (LfA Förderbank Bayern) beforehand.
6. Accelerators and incubators
While most accelerators and incubator programs support startups mainly by providing the necessary infrastructure and coaching, some programs also help startups financially. The Munich ecosystem has programs that help finance new business ideas for startups, including the Prosiebensat.1 Accelerator, the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Bavaria, Nutrion and Wayra.
7. Business Angels
Business angels are most often successful company founders who provide their own capital, experience and industry expertise to support startups with founding a company. There are several business angel associations in Germany where you can look for a suitable investor, such as the Business Angel Netzwerk Deutschland and the Baystartup Business Angel Netzwerk.
Startup financing: Support services and informative websites
If you have further questions about startup financing, you can always turn to one of the following centers for support services. The IHK, for example, answers initial questions in this pamphlet and also provides comprehensive support services for startups with its Startup Unit, which addresses not only the topic of financing but also business plans, formalities, legal issues, internationalization and networking. Innovative technology-oriented startups will also find the right point of contact at IHK Innovation Support Services. You can talk with them about the possibility of state funding for research and development as well as equity financing.
Baystartup also helps startups find the right options for financing. As part of what is known as Startup Finance Coaching, you can receive support in developing a funding strategy and drafting a pitch deck as well as business and financial plans. As soon as you’ve optimized your documents for an investor pitch, the Baystartup experts check to see if you can be presented to the Baystartup investor network — with more than 300 business angels, 100 VCs and capital transactions that amounted to more than 60 million euros last year.
Moreover, the Förderdatenbank (funding database) has a good search function for finding funding options. You can filter the results according to the funding area and type of funding.
Advisory services for founding a company are also available on our Startup Consulting webpage.