Israeli fintech startups feel the love in Frankfurt

Coming from a small country, startups in Israel have to think about overseas markets from day one. Those in financial technology look to the strongest ecosystems in this sector — London and Frankfurt.

Ram Shoham from Israel and Maria Pennanen from Finland founded Accelerator Frankfurt to provide that foot in the door for handpicked B2B fintech startups. Each cohort of eight, by design, includes two or three Israeli startups.

Frankfurt, the unofficial capital of banking in mainland Europe, is home to more than 200 banks eager for fintech innovation, including the European Central Bank.

“Fintech and cybersecurity decision-makers are based here. If you need to sell a product to a large bank, you need to be where the banks are,” says Shoham.

The accelerator is kicking off its third four-month program with a fintech road show in Frankfurt on September 26-27 in cooperation with the Israel Export Institute and the Embassy of Israel in Berlin.

The previous group included the Israeli startups Adjesty, a cloud-based machine learning solution for online advertising; and Aero-Plan, an online marketplace for medical transport services such as insurance.

“Israeli entrepreneurs add a lot to the program. The Israeli way of doing things is full-on thinking out of the box and the German way of doing things is process-oriented and organized. When you mix them together great things happen,” says Shoham.

Accelerator Frankfurt cofounders Ram Shoham and Maria Pennanen. Photo: courtesy

Accelerator Frankfurt was the first business accelerator in Frankfurt and now there’s only one additional accelerator in the city. By contrast, Israel boasts more than 260 accelerators.

“Germans are very risk-averse,” explains Pennanen, an angel investor, chemical engineer and organizational psychologist with a master’s in business administration and work experience across the globe.

As newcomers from small countries, she and Shoham…

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