Gener8tor accelerator 2024

“Relatively few players engaged with young startups”

Applications are open for startups from Luxembourg (and elsewhere in the EU). €100,000 and additional support are on offer. Pictured: Menachem Tabanpour, Luxembourg managing director. Photo: Gener8tor

Applications are open for startups from Luxembourg (and elsewhere in the EU). €100,000 and additional support are on offer. Pictured: Menachem Tabanpour, Luxembourg managing director. Photo: Gener8tor

Gener8tor has launched its second Luxembourg accelerator programme, open to startups from the EU. We spoke to Luxembourg managing director Menachem Tabanpour about the European ecosystem and what he looks for in an applicant.

The US-based venture capital fund opened a Luxembourg office in 2022 and concluded its first Luxembourg accelerator earlier this year. It has now announced its second, for which the fund will invest in five EU startups. “Gener8tor prioritises startups focused on driving systemic change at the corporate, government, and community level,” notes the firm in a press release, “as well as founders that embrace sustainability as a way to transform antiquated industries.”

Applications are open now and will close on 19 January 2024. The startups chosen will each receive €100,000 and participate in the 12-week accelerator that kicks off on 6 March 2024. They will get “personalised, hands-on support to foster [their] growth and will gain access to a network of experienced mentors, technologists, corporate partners, and investors.”

Delano: Which aspects of an applicant/startup speak most loudly to you, personally? 

Menachem Tabanpour: I’ll start with saying that the Gener8tor Luxembourg accelerator programme is agnostic to the type of startup and that we form a team during the selection process so that multiple perspectives are represented during the scoring, interviews and due diligence. We are generally looking for early-stage startups that have innovative products, an inviting team, early traction, and scaling potential as well as a high potential impact. We also do our best to be transparent about what it means to work with Gener8tor and the benefits of participating in the accelerator.

My background comes from research and technology commercialisation in the circular economy of water and agricultural resources with an emphasis on transforming linear manufacturing processes into circular systems. This experience allows me to resonate with highly technical startups and especially those that are addressing issues related to sustainability and the circular economy. This captures my motivation in supporting innovations and teams that are looking to fundamentally transform industries while benefiting a broader set of stakeholders that includes people and the environment.

You’ve worked in the startup sector in both the US and Luxembourg: what are the major differences between the two ecosystems (or local mentalities generally)?

This is an interesting question that I often get from investors or key people in each respective ecosystem. It often comes with the view that the Luxembourg/EU startup ecosystem is less interesting because it lacks motivated founders, innovation, funding and exit opportunities.

Rather than focusing on the differences between ecosystems, I can say that any startup bringing a new product to the market, especially those with innovations that will transform industry and society, will face enormous challenges that are often on the verge of being insurmountable. When you add factors like race, place and gender, which often tie into access resources such as capital and support, success can seem to be elusive. Our mission at Gener8tor is to see the genius in every community and add as much value to the startup communities we are part of.

Gener8tor works in 42 communities and 85% of our investments are outside major metropolitan areas. After two and a half years of engaging with the Luxembourg ecosystem, I appreciate the history and the absolutely fantastic evolution of Luxembourg as a startup nation. That is something to recognise and celebrate. From my point of view, the best ecosystems have a diversity of support and funding channels for startups to grow. Gener8tor is one of multiple channels that makes this ecosystem rich and I am looking forward to increasing our presence in Luxembourg and throughout the EU over the coming years. 

One thing I would like to highlight is the need to increase the participation of investors, professionals and corporations at the earliest stages of a startup’s growth. While Luxembourg has a diverse economy and a substantial financial sector, there are relatively few players engaged with young startups. For the ecosystem to continue to grow and for the benefit of the Luxembourg economy at large, additional channels, whether it be as early customers or via an investment, will need to open up for startups to grow from seed to scale.

What was the most memorable moment from working with last year’s cohort?

Recalling the most memorable moment is a difficult one. A few stand out, such as the 2022 accelerator showcase at Arendt, the first follow-on investment in Asets and the amazing perseverance of the teams through this difficult fundraising environment. I’m very grateful for the deeper relationship Shelby [Peranich, programme manager] and I have developed over time with each of the founders.