Journey at METRO Accelerator for Hospitality through the eyes of Simon Cole from Apparier

In September 2016, Apparier joined METRO Accelerator for Hospitality powered by Techstars. 6 months after Demo Day, the event that marked the end of the program, we would like to take you back to his journey. Simon Cole, Co-founder & COO of Apparier took precious notes of everything that was happening during this 3-months acceleration phase. See the amazing transformation path of Apparier and how the program helped them pivoting for the best.

Week 1 & 2 – The Journey Begins

“As of September this year, Venue10 (Customer Engagement Solution) made it on to the prestigious METRO Accelerator powered by Techstars Program, from 650 companies that entered the fray, only 10 were given places in the accelerator and the chance to pitch for investment capital in December.


This week we have “speed dated” 40 mentors and exceptional leaders of the Hospitality and Investment community and had an inspiring speech from a key figure from one of the world’s most mega Unicorns (and Venue10 supplier) – Twilio. We have had photo calls, video interviews, presentations, feedback, reviews, debriefs, off sites, on sites, bonding and more besides… This is it, this is what it means to be in an accelerator. It’s highly exhilarating, intoxicating and I can’t wait to get back to Berlin for week 3 of 13.”

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Week 3 – Concept Testing

“How any company can bring anything to market without ever going through the crucial concept testing gate is mind boggling…”


“We sat on a conveyor belt of sage advice dispensed around core topics, that warrant a monumental depth of attention – User Journey Validation; Product Design; Conversion Funnel Optimisation; Sales Role Play (with some seriously angry and spectacularly unreasonable “hypothetical” customers); The stunningly useful “10 second napkin pitch” (awesome idea – and makes you illustrate and articulate your business to anyone on the planet, in 10 seconds – provided you have access to a serviette and a pen); table tennis competition and pizza (a short break for sanity reboot); video creation, Tweeting, Re-Tweeting, Tinkering and Thinking and way more… “

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Week 4 – Brand and Deliver

“All the “Investibles” met a buffet of investors, experts and industry Yoda’s in the latest mentor madness week. It’s quite enriching to sit opposite 40+ people who have bought, built, turbo-charged and sold businesses. They have had late nights, tears, confusion, failings, wailings and come off the railings… And over the course of 5 days we would find out as much as we could about their journey and apply it to ours.”


“You go nowhere fast without dropping key word bombs and phrases like:

Scalability, affiliate, investor relations, frictionless on-boarding, first mover advantage, conversion ratio, yield management, investor deck, playbook, pivot, positioning and product roadmap…If you can casually lob these into any and all Elevator Pitches and flagrantly integrate them as coffee machine banter, then you stand a much better chance of succeeding. Because they get you, and you get them.”

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Week 5 – Berlin: Sell the Sizzle (not the sausage)

“Week 5 on the Techstars program was all about Credibility, Collaboration and Consolidation. The great benefit of a powerful Accelerator is that the really great ones actually seed invest into acorns that can become giant Unicorns along the way – Techstars for example, having done so with Uber and Twillio… This level of credibility is on show for all of the companies in the program


“The mindset needs to change to one of engaging help and collaboration, hearing the help and applying the lotion as and where required… Segregation of Duties where, the marketing team generate a lead, the sales team convert a lead is where you want to get to. But that’s a really short game unless you have a robust product that solves a problem.”


“The final theme of my week, consolidation comes through focusing the messaging and product into a clearly honed strategy, which ultimately only the Directors and the CEO should be responsible for deciding on and implementing.”

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Week 6 – The Dark Art of Sales

“All of the Start-ups were introduced to the sharp suited, slick sales team from the mighty Maschmeyer Group. They efficiently disassembled our sales skills, then reassembled them in a fun, memorable and insightful way. They provided a clear structure for those moments where, you never get a second chance to make your first impression… and to sell and tell, clear and well.”


“Beyond value assertion, story telling and the art of human “Buy-ology” – we got to spend time with one of the many exceptional mentors, that operate in the Metro / Techstar network, (specialists in a range of business functions – marketing, sales, PR and beyond) – we received exceptional support and advice on the Product Roadmap and the how we go through the gears of optimising the business. Surrounding yourself with great advisors and contributors who have a broad range of skills, is essential to success.

As our business has pivoted its offering towards the high end Fine Dining market, we worked on the brand and positioning. (…) The very talented associate team “killed it” in our brand name session with – Apparier (French for ‘Match’) which works so well with Food matched to Drink or Diners matched to their perfect restaurant experience – and so much more – “The Eureka moment”.”

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Week 7 & 8 – Make your story compelling

“The presentation of your positioning is made in structured segments – Hook & Position, transitioning through to Demo of the product offering, before splashing the Details – and all the while using memorable, compelling, informative, skippy and slick content from beginning to end, because if they snooze, you lose.

Towards the end of the week, we learnt directly via satellite link up from HQ Colorado how to approach and convert an investor, from fresh, to a maybe, and on to a “yes”, through a serious “soft commitment”. How to run that dialogue and achieve a sense that investors are at the line, exited – terrified of missing the wave that could be the next Uber and ready with their bankers number on speed dial just in case they need to make a hefty transfer to you. Be compelling at all times, because you never know who you are telling the story to.”


Week 9 – Get on the Decks

“The successful deck is probably on Keynotes, formatted beautifully and is in manageable segments – and as Apparier is all about Fine Dining – it’s running order is a story, like a good meal- amuse bouche > starter > main > chefs shot > dessert > cheeses > coffee & mint.


Current Position = the problem; the solution and the scope and market £€$¥

Financials = revenue; users; CAC; EBITDA; pipeline 3-5 years into your crystal ball

Investment = how much does your solution need and where does the money get spent

Sales = who to; expansion; how much and how quickly will genuine revenue generate

Marketing = spend for online and offline; plan and managed by whom; when and which channels

Product Roadmap = what’s already built; what’s coming next and will that be mobile or clever; localisation?; what’s the plan to deliver the new “stuff”

Team = who else is on board; who believes in this? – why should we believe in them; what are their skills?

The investor is most likely running 3 main questions:

Have I seen this before?

How much more money will I get back on top of my original stake?

When will I get my money back?”


Week 10 – Deciphering Data

“Data is such a powerful ally in any company. If you have Data – you have power because you have control over your business decisions and directions, all built on solid underlying qualitative and quantitative data. So giving Control, which has been driven and arrived at logically – And one keeps on feeding the other…”


Between Pitch Practice, documentation for investors, realising that less is more on an investor deck and bowling a 139 at the Social Event – it’s been another busy week in a relentlessly drizzly Berlin, that has been hosting helicopters carrying Barack, May and a raft of politicians. Clearly Berlin is the place to be…


Week 11 – Pitch Perfect

“The difference between presenting a company and product that you 100% believe in – and one that you aren’t 100% sure about is vast. The “audience” needs to buy in to your product, your passion and your purpose and they need to be completely sh1t scared of missing out!

And so… last week at the Metro Accelerator – powered by Techstars, was the week that was – Pitch Practice… swing batter, batter batter batter… swing”


“The more I practice the luckier I get – Arnold Palmer – so we rehearse the pitch / learn the investor doc – refine the pitch – no notes – no aide memories – it’s got to be from the heart – because if you don’t believe it 100% and deliver it with 100% alacrity and sincerity how can anyone else buy into it 100%?

This filled up the most part of the last week in Berlin- mixed in with discussions with a globally renowned concierge and the PA to one of the globes’s most famous people… oh and singing ‘Rocket Man’ (badly) at the weekly social event.”


Week 12 – That’s All Folks – (Nearly…)

“So after 3 months of the Berlin based Metro und Techstars Accelerator world – we are finally ready for the big finale with Demo Day looming on Wednesday the 7th. I shan’t fib, certain portions of our lives were indeed placed into suspended animation (friends, family, TV box sets) as we passed through the segments of the meticulous week by week program. “


“We now have superb introduction video from two awesome entrepreneurs we have met along the way, a flowing deck and a nice mix of visuals, that will hopefully trigger long and fruitful discussions with Investors, potential staff, partners and customers…”


“Wednesday coming is the cherry on top of an experience which has been exceptional, exhausting, encompassing and energy sapping adventure – and I am highly grateful to have met and spent time with the cast and crew of this epic production, which I can only recommend highly to any and all “Entrepreneurs”. So its good luck at the presentations in 2 days, to over 500 people – In Berlin – On Wednesday.”

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Week 13 – Farewell Berlin…

“The week started on Sunday morning, with a flight to Dusseldorf, where we would present our companies to the Board and Executives of Metro. Olaf Koch, the CEO of over 100,000 staff and driver of the whole program, said some highly inspirational words to the crowd sitting attentively at the head office of Europe’s 4th Largest Retailer – about the importance of Technology being secured, supported and weaved into Metro’s supply chain and customer base.

On Wednesday, Damian Hall and Apparier delivered a sensational pitch to a packed theatre in Berlin, heart in your mouth time…and indeed all of the speakers delivered exceptionally and eloquently – and all of a sudden all of that work, all of the long days, heart murmurs, late night coffees and junk food runs and palpitations, were validated in just 5 minutes of stage time.

We now have a platitude of dialogues opened and opening with a range of investors, and ultimately that was the end game of this program.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in the whole Metro Accelerator – Powered by Techstars in Berlin. What a sensational 13 weeks it’s been. So role VT as they say”



“So – for me – it’s a resounding YES! – we were lucky to be on the Metro sponsored Techstar program, in Berlin – the people you meet, the network you fall into, the skills you hone and the clarity of vision it affords you are simply unparalleled – but I am reminded – getting into the band is half the battle – if you can’t play for sh1t – you won’t last long… In the end, its down to you.”


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