Harry Nelis (Accel): “Something’s got to give in the Berlin startup scene”



Harry Nelis, partner and head of European operations at Accel Partners says that Berlin might have an exit problem. “Something will have to happen in the Berlin internet scene,” he warns. “We’ve seen a 100 investments, but not a hundred exits yet. That has to change. Either the number of exits goes up, or the number of startups will dwindle.”

Nelis isn’t the first venture capitalist to warn that for Berlin, 2013 is a make or break year.

The biggest problem Nelis sees is that all the e-commerces in Berlin have a very limited number of potential acquirers. Namely: Amazon and eBay. That’s it. “Or maybe another startup in the same field,” he says. “But for investors, finding a successful exit in this market has become a real problem.”

Which is why Nelis says that he won’t be surprised to see Zalando go IPO – indeed, he says he hopes it will float in the US and create some enthusiasm in the Berlin scene. (I wonder if Nelis knows more about a Zalando float than he says. A Nasdaq executive told the WSJ recently that it had “a few German” companies lining up for IPO. And only last month rumors started about a possible Rocket Internet or Zalando IPO.)

If you want to know what kind of business Nelis is interested in: big data, payments (he mentions UK based payday loans solution Wonga) and ‘next generation marketplaces’ like Etsy. “Because in their niche, they’re better than eBay.”

[via Focus][photos: Harry Nelis, LeWeb, Flickr / "Exit" by DoodleMoon, Flickr]

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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