The xdeck will be a place where experienced entrepreneurs and innovate companies share their knowledge, resources and network with emerging founders and support them in developing their potential.

The goals for participating startups are to reach product-market fit, to initiate a financing round, where appropriate, and to prepare for scaling. The xdeck aims to establish a sustainable startup ecosystem in the Rhineland that brings together startups and innovators from all over Europe. The application phase for founders starts now.


With the completion of Cologne’s new future-oriented office building THE SHIP, opening in early 2020, the xdeck will move into its premises. The accelerator program xdeck has been uniquely designed for founders – initiated by the successful founding trio of the company FOND OF, Dr. Oliver Steinki, Florian Michajlezko, and Sven-Oliver Pink. As part of a comprehensive service package, they aim, together with renowned partners, to pass on their vigorous experience to a selection of outstanding startups.

Next to FOND OF, the top-class xdeck partners to date include the globally leading top-management consultancy McKinsey & Company, the top German corporate law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, and Germany’s most active early-stage investor High-Tech Gründerfonds. Their common goal is to support startups in the xdeck to quickly develop innovative business models and to anchor them in the market.

In addition, the xdeck cooperates with partners from the university landscape, in particular the University of Cologne and its Excellence Start-up Center GATEWAY, the RWTH Aachen University, and its unit RWTH Innovation, as well as the Incubator of the leading business school WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. The xdeck also cooperates with the non-profit association Wissensfabrik, which is committed to MINT education for children and young people and entrepreneurship in Germany, as well as with the PIRATE Summit, Europe’s largest “invitation only” startup conference. 


“Our vision with xdeck is to generate new fuel for entrepreneurship. The xdeck is unique in our eyes, because it is characterized by three things: First, it hosts an accelerator program from founders for founders. We are entrepreneurs ourselves and know what other founders need in order to develop successful startups”, says Dr. Nils Eiteneyer, Founding Managing Director of xdeck. “Secondly, it involves outstanding corporate partners who share their expert knowledge and resources. And third, the xdeck is a non-profit initiative that is strategically interesting for all parties but does not pursue a focus on investment or returns. Above all it is socially motivated. Founder teams do not have to contribute equity to participate in the xdeck program.” Nils Eiteneyer has extensive industry experience. Previously, he was Managing Director of a FOND OF founders’ startup investment in the retail sector and was a consultant at McKinsey & Company. During his doctorate he also headed the startup center at RWTH Aachen University.


What founders can expect from the xdeck program

Founders who obtain a place in the xdeck program benefit from a comprehensive service package without additional costs or equity from the startup. Services include: 

  • Network access: individual mentoring by successful entrepreneurs, such as the FOND OF founders, and personal contact with professional investors;
  • Knowledge transfer: tailored to the needs of the founding teams, for example in the areas of financing, performance marketing, or employment law;
  • Financial resources: an initial funding of up to €20,000 for relocating to Cologne (for the duration of the program), an office space in THE SHIP with access to the FOND OF Design Lab and Tech Credits (e.g. AWS). 

The program is structured in two phases. During the first four months, the founding teams receive active support in optimizing their business model. The focal point of this phase is to achieve product-market fit. Customer acquisition and -feedback as well as product development are therefore key. The program focuses on personal exchange with experienced mentors, experts, and other founders offering regular sparring to help teams prioritize their challenges.

In addition, workshops, lectures, and expert consultancy provide answers to all growth-related questions. The curriculum is tailor-made for each team without being overloaded. In the second phase of the program (a further two months), startups will have the chance to pitch in front of professional investors and initiate scaling. After a total of up to 180 days in the xdeck program, the teams move out of THE SHIP, but remain an important part of the community.


The xdeck aims at ambitious B2C and B2B founder teams across Europe in the fields of consumer goods, retail, and digitization. Their startups should be in an early stage, have a prototype or MVP ready (or in late stages of development), and have already achieved usage numbers or revenues with (pilot) customers.

The Pioneer Batch will be launched in spring 2020. Interested founders can get an overview of the xdeck program here and apply for the first round until end of January. Applications can be submitted continuously and will be considered on an ongoing basis.

Additionally, xdeck is looking to increase its partner network. Companies that are willing to actively contribute to the xdeck can qualify regardless of size and industry. In doing so, they contribute to an emerging ecosystem of startups and companies, creating value for both sides. 

Learn more about xdeck on

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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