Behind the scenes of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator

Berlin is an inspiring startup hub. So, in no particular order, these are some of the memorable moments from Portadi's 4-month long stay at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Berlin, Germany.

Fight for your territory

Batch #3 of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator started in downtown Berlin on March 9, 2015. Eight teams, two to three founders each, some with a handful of other teammates. We were assigned beautiful KERTI desks, made from reclaimed wood, giving each team about 4 workplaces. All seemed perfect but this was soon to change.

Tomas and I got a bit suspicious during one of the weekly standups. “I’d like to introduce two new members of our team and starting in May we’ll have two more!”, we heard. One of the teams started growing really fast. One day they ran out of desk space: “Can I borrow your chair?” A week later: “Can I borrow your fan?” A few days after that: “Can I borrow your lamp?” — “Sure, take what you want, my shoes, whatever.” The next day, shoes were gone.

I guess this brings up one of the key learning points from the accelerator: fight for your territory! The team in question was WunderAgent but - truth be told - they are great friends and a really fun bunch to be with!

Miracles happen even at Microsoft

It’s true, miracles do happen at Microsoft. There is a fridge in the Accelerator where somehow (we haven’t quite figured out how and when) bottles of Berliner Pilsner appear on Thursdays. Plenty of them. That is a truly amazing thing.

Coca-Cola Fridge

Beer indeed came in handy because on Thursdays we held regular rooftop barbeques, courtesy of chef Jake Berger. For some reason, and without our deliberate action—I know what you are thinking!—the remainder of the bottles disappeared overnight. On Friday mornings... they turned into Coca-Cola. Bummer!

This curious - albeit inexplicable - phenomenon had its dark side. The kitchenette was just such a place. No matter how often we moved the dirty dishes from the sink to the dishwasher and ran it, when we turned around, they were back in the sink. Discussions led nowhere - the coders concluded that this problem was really easy to reproduce but impossibly hard to debug.

Entrance door

Microsoft Berlin is officially located on Unter den Linden in Mitte, just a few blocks from The Brandenburg Gate. However, it’s the door at Charlottenstrasse 46 that is the hidden and actual entrance to Unter den Linden 17.

Entrance door

Getting inside is relatively easy. Leaving the building is a whole different story — and we never quite figured out the system. Perhaps it’s the ghosts of former hotel guests (originally the building was the Carlton Hotel), but it remains a mystery: sometimes the door opens automatically, sometimes it does not open at all. There’s no visible sensor or camera. The door handle does not respond to touch. We tried the “twist to open” method. That worked the best.

Other blog posts in the series
Daily life at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Berlin
How to apply to the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator
Key learnings from our first month in Berlin
Every company needs a garage. We found ours in Berlin.

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