We support founders from idea to company

Are you an early-stage founder looking for a chance to start your business? The signals Pre-Seed Program offers a three month runway, office space, mentoring and the possibility for a subsequent pre-seed funding of up to €250k to make it fly.

Apply now

What we offer

We support you to get from idea to product/market fit. We are trusted partner, mentor and business angel all in one.

  • Funding illustration

    Funding

    Up to €20k budget for evaluation, marketing tests and expenses as well as the potential for up to €250k in pre-seed funding through our venture capital unit.

  • Tools illustration

    Tools

    Operational support and advice from the signals team and our broad mentoring network. State of the art co-working space in Berlin with workshop and meeting rooms.

  • Access illustration

    Access

    Access to experts and partnership opportunity with insurance service Signal Iduna. Connection to a corporate network and industry specific ecosystems

How it works

Founder Fellowship

During the 3 months signals Founder Fellowship you have the chance to validate your idea, shape your product vision and build out the perfect founding team. Teams receive up to €20k to cover compensation and expenses during the fellowship, office space in the signals Open Studios as well as mentoring via the signals team and expert network. The best part of it: signals takes no equity for the fellowship.

  • Pre-Seed Start illustration

    Start

  • Pre-Seed Exploration illustration

    Exploration

  • Pre-Seed Ideation illustration

    Ideation

  • Pre-Seed Validation illustration

    Validation

  • Pre-Seed Pitch illustration

    Pitch

Pre-Seed Funding & Portfolio Support

Ideas that make the cut in the final pitch after the fellowship, may receive pre-seed investment of up to €250k and the potential for follow-up funding through the affiliated venture capital fund. We value ventures that we can support with more than money. Especially in fields with a high barrier of entry like health care and mobility, industry partnerships can play a big role. Thus we see ourselves as facilitators and door-openers to these networks.

  • Pre-Seed Team illustration

    Build the team

  • Pre-Seed Product illustration

    Build the product

  • Pre-Seed Launch illustration

    Launch

What we look for

We select a handful of entrepreneurs every year and award them with the signals Founder Fellowship. Apply if the following profile sounds like you.

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    You have…

    • preferably a founding team
    • a proven startup track record
      or relevant industry knowhow
    • a first prototype, proof of concept or a live product
    • no previous funding from institutional investors
  • Ideas illustration

    Your idea is…

    • a software-based and scalable solution
    • preferably in the field of digital health, mobility or proptech
    • consumer facing or targeting SMEs
    • focused on the DACH region

Our mentors

We have a great network of mentors that can support you with all pressing operational and strategic questions. They have all been in your shoes, starting up and successfully managing startups and thus know what they are talking about.

  • Photo of Kristofer Fichtner
    Kristofer Fichtner
    CO-FOUNDER ECOWORKS, FORMERLY CTO THERMONDO
  • Photo of Yase Tulay
    Yase Tulay
    CMO COYA
  • Photo of Verena Hubertz
    Verena Hubertz
    CO-FOUNDER KITCHENSTORIES
  • Photo of Marius Jeuck
    Marius Jeuck
    CO-FOUNDER HEYJOBS
  • Photo of Tobias Teuber
    Tobias Teuber
    CO-FOUNDER LYKON
  • Photo of Benjamin Bolland
    Benjamin Bolland
    LECTURER AT CODE,
    FORMERLY PROJECT A

Question & Answers

Is there a deadline to the application?
No, there is no deadline. We have rolling admissions. However we will only work with max 3 individuals or teams at a time.
Can I apply without a concrete idea?
We strongly believe in the power of teams. However if you don’t have a complete founding team, wow us with the brilliance of your product idea and show us that you are the perfect candidate to execute it.
Can I apply if I've already founded a company?
You can apply if you have already incorporated the company but haven’t raised money from (institutional) investors yet. If you are already further along in the process but want to work with us, pitching us for an investment or partnership may be the way to go.
What happens after the program? (What happens if you don't invest?)
At the end of the program you pitch us your final idea and KPIs collected during the program. Based on that we will decide if we want to invest up to 250k€. In that case you incorporate the company and we help you to build the team and launch the product as part of our ongoing portfolio management. If we don’t invest, you keep the IP and you can decide how and with whom to proceed with it. No strings attached.
Will you take over strategic control over the company?
No. We leave the majority share of the company with you as the founder and our terms are very founder-friendly. We act as mentors and investors giving you guidance, but always leaving you to run the show.
Can I take money from other VCs, too?
Yes. We are happy to take the risk and back you as first investor in the company during the pre-seed stage, but expect other VCs to come in in subsequent stages. We reserve the right to participate pro-rata in follow-on rounds.
Do I need to stay in Berlin and work on this full-time?
We are looking for dedicated founders. We provide you with a base salary during the time of the program so you can fully concentrate on the task at hand. Thus we expect work on your startup idea full-time with us from the signals open studios in Berlin. Afterwards you can launch the company anywhere else in Germany.
What’s in it for you?
Good question. The Founder in Residence program is no strings attached, we don’t take any equity at the point and don’t bind you to exclusivity clauses or the like. The program is a way for us to learn together with you and build strong startup ecosystems around topics that we care about around healthcare, mobility and real estate. The program also acts as our due diligence on the founder and the idea for the subsequent pre-seed funding. The goal of our investments is to build superior products that scale and ultimately provide us with a financial return on the investment.

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