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SAP invests in latest startup fund raised by High-Tech Gründerfonds

Team rowing boat in bay

Committed to helping new growth businesses startup and scale, we are pleased to continue our productive cooperation with High-Tech Gründerfonds. SAP will be an investor in their 4th fund. With this new investment, SAP champions the strong development of vibrant start-up ecosystems to ultimately provide our customers with the best startup innovation to run at their best.

With their funds, investors and personal commitment, the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) contributes significantly to the consistent development of the start-up ecosystem in Germany and across Europe. Until recently, the public–private partnership initiative had successfully launched a total of three funds, financing more than 650 companies, of which more than 150 have been successfully sold or floated on the stock exchange. In addition to seed investments, over 4 billion euros of private funds have flowed into HTGF portfolio companies through follow-up financing. HTGF is now introducing a 4th fund, supporting growth businesses in the areas of Industrial Tech, Digital Tech, Chemicals and Life Sciences with an increased focus on sustainability.

For the past ten years, our cooperation has unlocked access to both our networks and expertise on startups for reciprocal knowledge transfer and sourcing activities. The result has proven value for SAP, HGTF and connected startups. High-Tech Gründerfonds has invested in startups from SAP.iO programs, while HTGF portfolio companies have joined SAP.iO Foundry programs with five of them also being available on the SAP Store.

Exemplary, Datarade was part of the SAP.iO Foundry program in Berlin in 2018 and received seed investment from HTGF later in 2020. The startup has since partnered with SAP to empower customers to easily discover, evaluate, and access external data from commercial data providers. 4tiitoo received investment by HTGF in 2014 and was then introduced to SAP.iO in 2018. The startup participated in our Industry 4.0 program in the same year; their AI-based solution for easy eye control of computers was piloted by both SAP and with several SAP customers and is being offered on the SAP Store. In 2020, they secured Series B funding.

SAP.iO is offering startups the fastest way to scale with SAP – while enabling customers to access innovation complementing SAP solutions.

“We are therefore looking forward to our continued fruitful cooperation with HTGF and seeing our community of founders and startups grow”, Alexa Gorman, SVP, SAP.iO, said. “Our renewed support for the High-Tech Gründerfonds emphasizes our joint belief in a promising future for entrepreneurialism.”

Read the investment announcement by High-Tech Gründerfonds here and find more on our proven cooperation in this interview with Alexa Gorman, Global Head of SAP.iO Foundries and Intrapreneurship.

Cracking the code: From startup to scale up in enterprise software

Panel of speakers at Tech Crunch

By Ram Jambunathan

The startup journey is hard. An estimated 75% of venture-backed companies never return cash to investors; only 1% go on to become unicorns. Startup success requires brutally efficient execution and a bit of luck. My own experience as a startup founder attests to this. When we started T-Networks (now a part of Broadcom), we had to build our own semiconductor fab and packaging facility, while at the same time competing with deep-pocketed, well-established multinationals. A “pivot” in those days, should we decide we needed to change in tack (e.g., different product in different segment), was going to be a fairly difficult (if not impossible) road to travel. So, I have to say I’m excited (and perhaps even a little envious) when I see the opportunities entrepreneurs have today — to build, test, refine, and even pivot — now that the need to construct the infrastructure required to develop the actual product is removed.

Of course, there are still challenges. In enterprise software, it also requires industry expertise, access to strong networks, and an ability to reach customers — all of which pose significant barriers to many entrepreneurs who aspire to transform industries. This is where a strategic partner like SAP can help early-stage startups scale the barriers to success.

The SAP.iO Fund and SAP.iO Foundries invest in and accelerate early-stage startups at the leading edge of B2B software innovation, who leverage a combination of emerging technologies like AI or IoT, business process expertise, and new business models. We realize that agile, early-stage startups complementary to SAP can expand and enhance the SAP ecosystem and solutions, giving our customers access to relevant, cutting-edge solutions. While SAP can help startups target customer needs, connect to SAP systems, and access SAPs broad customer base.

A key challenge many startups have after finding product-market fit is scaling. This can require significant investment, especially on the customer acquisition side — from marketing to sales to customer success. But what if the right partner could help to identify and prioritize high-value prospects, make those introductions, and then even help to drive the sales process? This is the type of startup partner SAP and SAP.iO strives to be — even for early-stage startups.

Startups that SAP.iO supports receive strong and unprecedented exposure to our field and customers. We have dedicated resources on the SAP.iO team that ensure SAP.iO startups get visibility and interest from internal account teams, customers, and partners. For example, during the first half of 2019 alone, at least 150 major customers visited SAP.iO Foundries in NA and Europe to meet with the startups SAP.iO is supporting.

In particular, on the go-to-market side, startups ask about the tactical ways that SAP typically partners with startups, where the field is provided incentives to position and / or sell a startup partner’s solution. In my session today at Techcrunch Enterprise 2019, I shared the stage with 3 SAP.iO Fund startups — BigID, Medal, and Plum — who discussed the various ways they work with SAP to scale sales and deliver value to customers:

  1. CO-SELL — in this model, startups get exposure to the SAP customer base via the SAP AppCenter. SAP customers can discover, try, and buy startup solutions. Customers transact through the SAP AppCenter, on the startup partners’ contract paper. Select partners may have special pipeline generation activities supported by an SAP Business Unit.
  2. RE-SELL — in this model, startup partner solutions can be sold via the SAP Solution Extension program, where the solution is sold by the field on SAP contract paper and is also supported by dedicated partner management. This is generally reserved for more mature startups.
  3. OEM (INBOUND) — in this model, the startup solution is embedded into an SAP solution. SAP then sells the combined offering on SAP paper, with the startup receiving a license fee from SAP for using their IP.

By leveraging these types of partnerships, startups can dramatically expand their reach, pipeline, and ability to deliver value to SAP customers. It’s important to note that startups dramatically increase success working with a channel partner if they already have a successful, scalable, repeatable sales formula (or process) that they can teach to the partner. Contrary to popular startup mythology, early-stage startups can have success cracking the code with large enterprise partners — SAP.iO is proof of this.