"Very interesting. Let's keep in touch and come back when you make 5 * X EUR revenue."
And if make X >= 100.000 EUR revenue per month, then you most likely don't need 50-75K.
One thing in Berlin ist crucial: Social Proof. If you have it, you can raise 5 Mio EUR with basically zero traction and if you don't have it, it will be a long and timeconsuming process to raise any money at a fair valuation.
Are you willing to spend 6 - 9 months to raise 50 K and do you have significant monthly revenue? If so, your approach to meeting random investors should work. Otherwise you might want to apply for an accelerator in Berlin (for 25 K) or just focus in bootstrapping until you can approach international VCs outside Berlin.
Then work on that. Or try to partner with someone who has that
How? Mingle. Go to meetings. Network "horizontally" (in your tech segment) and "vertically" (in your business segment).
One way you're not getting that is by being the foreigner just off the plane (or even there for a couple of years) that can't speak German
There's actually a funny series of bilingual books about "How to be Berliner/How to be German" that are kind of tongue-in-cheek but it gets on the overall mindset
And as someone said below, something like < 100k can be gotten from FFFs, so look onto that.
I disagree. If you don't already have Social Proof, then it takes a big investment to try getting it. I believe for 99% of all startup teams, the time is better spent by working on your product or acquiring customers.
Networking is not working. I have seen so many startups in Berlin, who had a good shot of making it, but who wasted time in "fundraising" or "networking" and therefore killed their business.
Now obviously to each his own and for some it might work. But I believe only very few people on very few occasions get something out of networking.
EDIT: added a paragraph
You're right. But even for a technical person, spending "24h" coding is too much
But ideally one person would be dedicated to coding, another, to the business/financial/fundraising side
So, like most people in the Berlin startup scene?
The German start-up scene is pretty shitty.
Last time I checked about incubators or accelerators, most of the companies that work in that space were like "Oh no, we are not one of those, we do [insert some crap no founder needs] to help startups!"
Basically no one gives you money for anything if you don't know the right people and those who do want to own the company in full, which defeats the whole startup idea in the first place...
There is still a lot between 100k revenue and not profitable at all. What about something like barely selfsustaining (but by that proven to be somewhat profitable) with 2 employees? Or making 10k with a 2-man startup?
If you make about 100k revenue (or if you have otherwise significant traction), you can not only approach investors in Berlin but also ouside, which kind of solves the "Social Proof" problem.
If you are barely selfsustaining, then please stay bootstrapped and grow your business. Otherwise the process of fundraising in Berlin will most likely kill your business.
EDIT: added one paragraph
Social Proof could mean:
- You are a Serial Entrepreneur
- A famous Business Angel invested in your company
- You graduated from a University with a great Alumni Network
Basically if a potential investor evaluates your Market, Traction or Business Model, then you already lost. If a potential investor invests, because he thinks other investors want to invest, then this is Social Proof.
For example you are talking one hour with a potential investor:
If you talk 90 % of the time about who else is investing and about how to structure the investment round, then you have Social Proof. If you instead talk 90 % of the time about how big the market is, what your revenue model will be any why your churn rate only decreased 2 % in the last month, then you don't have Social Proof.
Also if the potential investors talks about making the investment bigger to increase your run rate and increase your leverage for a Series B, you have Social Proof. If instead the potential investors is asking you if you can decrease your burn rate or recommends you to raise a smaller amount, then you don't have Social Proof.
EDIT: Added one paragraph
But to get those success you need social proof.
It's a hard problem.
A good idea to approach investor is through other startups, people that already know them. You can meet startups entrepreneurs in meetups, I am sure that Berlin is full of meet ups. And if you are not lucky this way you can always try to find them in internet and send them a cold email. A small email with 2-3 lines talking about your product, the money you want and for what it is.
I wish you good luck!
If you need 50-75K, perhaps it's better to just go for 100K€ (because things will not go as planned, as some investors will tell you) and, if you can build a solid case based on your business' performance, then reach out to angel investors, as 100K€ is an investment exactly in their ball park (unless your granny is sitting on 1M€ and can spare you 100K€).
PS: these things need proper planning, fundraising is a long process based on trust and personal impressions...so, contrary to what you read around the web, it's unlikely you'll have a lot of success (in Europe, at least) if you just show up of the blue to pitch your case and leave a business card behind, unless your revenue/orders are already solid and you have a realistic plan to multiply their volume/value.
For a office? Do it at home.
For people? 50k is nothing. You get half an engineere for a year.
50-100k can mean that you have friends working with you, or it can be that you moved back to your parents to work fulltime on it.
It is such a small number in the business world, its strange that someone thinks that 100k can make a real difference.
If you think a minute about that sentence, I think you'll realize that that depends on where those engineers live.
100K€ can allow 2-3 people to quit their jobs to work (for a year on low pay) on the features requested by their paying customers, or hiring an offshoring firm to build what they can't, or just having money to apply for government grants or cover real-world business expenses (provisional patents, technical infrastructure, lawyers, accountants, promotion).
b) Yes, this is extremely unequal; yes, it's much easier to do a startup from a privileged background. It's still the most common route to launching a business.
(Especially in Europe, people use home equity or secured loans for starting businesses quite a lot)
Unfortunately the investment scene in Berlin is still very conservative. There are some angel investment programs out of Berlin (Google for Project Flying Elephant for example). Howerver I'd echo the sentiment that VC's and even angel's in Berlin operate like typically every other European investor, ultra conservative, little to zero speculation, and more of a bank than investment firm. Can't beat the US where you'll find risk takers with gobs of extra cash willing to bet on longshots, outcasts, and pet projects.
Disclaimer: have not tried this myself, no idea about the time needed or success probability.
1)You are an expert in building companies (you've done it before, can do it again) - this would typically be the case of repeat founders who've raised funds before
2) you are a domain expert, or have an idea which you think you are the right person to execute
For 1) as most people have pointed out things are a lot easier (relatively)
For 2) either you:
a) have shown you are on the right track with customers (traction)
b) prove you are the right team for the job
Again, a) makes it a bit easier to go to institutional investors.
If b) the people who can be convinced of this would be the ones who know you and therefore trust you to do it (hence Friends and Family)
Other option is people in the relevant industry who believe you know what you are doing (uncharitably, the Fools portion of FFFs)
From what you've told us so far, you are not seed stage. You are pre-seed as they like calling it in Europe. Institutional investors are a bad fit for this stage.
Hence FFFs would be your best bet.
I would recommend accelerators, but very VERY few of them are actually worth it. But that does give you a leg up in the ecosystyem, by allowing your network to expand rapidly
Check http://www.techstars.com/programs/berlin-program/ and https://www.metroaccelerator.com/
Submit your deck to angel syndicates. If it's good, they'll invite you to a pitch event. You can find plenty of advice online about what you need to cover in your deck.
A decent angel syndicate could easily do 50K-75K EUR and be able to follow on up to 1M EUR or so.
We do have a track record of shipping in this domain.
For the people wondering, we are building a connected device that users want and which poops money for us and for users. Based on my research this is not a value proposition that is of interest to venture capitalists.
EDIT: I spent my last year on Berlin meetups and i consider myself as pretty outgoing, eloquent and we've traction. But it simply was not worth my time.