With the Make It Lean Contest, the Startup Incubator Berlin promotes and awards innovative startup ideas that are implemented using the lean method.

The total prize money is 13.000 euros.Places 1 to 3 from the contest will be awarded.In addition, two special prizes will be awarded: the “best lean startup” and a startup with particular relevance for the software sector.

Who is the competition aimed at?

Young startups with an academic background who are or want to implement their startup project using the lean method. Startups in the pre-foundation phase and companies up to a year after foundation are permitted. Startups in the following categories can apply: #Social, #Food, #Hardware & #Software.

Produzent: Samson Schneidermann | Regie: Shai Hoffmann | Musik: Kadent

#Schedule Make It Lean Contest 2020/21

In 4 steps to victory

1 September – 6 December 2020

Do you have a start-up idea or are you working on a business model for an existing start-up (foundation no older than 1 year)? Also, do you or one of your teammates have an academic background? Then take part in the startup competition Make It Lean Contest 2020/21.

In order to take part in the competition, you need a startup idea based on the lean method. On the other hand, you have to create a meaningful video about your startup idea and present your team and the application of the lean startup method in your business model.

If you have little or no use of the term lean startup, then you should come to the Lean Method workshop series. In this workshop you will receive an introduction to the lean startup method and you will learn how to develop your idea into a first prototype.

If you are already working according to the lean startup method, then you are very welcome to attend the workshop series a little later. At the end of the series, the business model will be further developed and you will learn more about hypothesis testing and Lean UX. Please inform the responsible coach in advance if you only want to participate in the last part of the workshop series.
So that you can then promote your video well, you will learn a few tips and tricks in the marketing workshop on how to achieve maximum output with a small input.

Participation in the workshop pitch video (5 November 2020) is available to you so that not only your start-up idea is further developed in the best possible way, but you can also create an optimal competition video. Within this workshop you will receive tips for practice-oriented approaches for a cost-effective creation of a convincing pitch video as well as tips for an optimal communication strategy.

If you have participated in all workshops and created a pitch video, we will continue to support you. Because there is the possibility of receiving individual feedback from the workshop coaches. They will give you feedback on the presentation of your business model and the lean startup method. You will then have enough time to revise your video so that you can submit your application for the Make It Lean Contest 2020/21 by January 3, 2021.

7 December 2020 – 3 January 2021

During this period you should work extensively on your pitch video. The video is a condition of participation for the Make It Lean Contest 2020/21 and is required as a submission for your application for the competition. The video can be a maximum of 3 minutes. In order to get among the first places, we recommend that you create a creative video. Imagine that you want to convince someone unknown of your startup idea with the video and at the same time show how you apply the lean startup method in your project.

Criteria for your application video:

  • Content: Presentation of the idea, intro of the team, lean method
  • Video length: maximum 3 minutes
  • Video language: German (preferably with English subtitles) or English (preferably with German subtitles)
  • Upload to Youtube or Vimeo (password can be provided until the competition starts)

So that the video can also be seen and rated, each admitted participant receives a subpage on our competition website. Your application video will then also be integrated on this page. You also have the option of uploading pictures of your project or team and a description. You can also link your website and social networks.

In order to be optimally prepared for the competition and to reach the maximum number of supporters, you should prepare appropriate marketing campaigns for your competition project. This particularly includes contributions, links, etc. in the social networks (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), but also the cover letter from all those contacts who can support you in promoting your competition video and in the voting.

11 January – 1 February 2021

Now it’s time to “step on the gas” and collect likes! This phase is about convincing viewers and your community of your pitch video. Whoever clicks the Like button under your video is convinced. The three videos with the most likes come in first three places and receive prize money totaling € 10,000. The prizes are staggered as follows: 1st place: € 5,000, 2nd place: € 3,000, 3rd place: € 2,000.

To avoid attempted fraud, the overview of the voting is not displayed live. A current status will only be published halfway through the competition period (January 22nd, 2021). This overview enables you to react to your campaign and, if necessary, to promote it again more intensively. The overview will then be removed again and will only be made public on the last day of the competition (02/01/2021). The competition ends at 6 p.m. The three pitch videos with the most supporters win the competition and receive a total of € 10,000 in prize money.

You can see what your profile page will look like at our previous year’s winner Cabin Experience:


11 February 2021

All participants in the competition are invited to the final event. In addition, a jury made up of economic and political representatives of the Berlin ecosystem and the University of Economics and Law will be present.

At the award ceremony, the three winners of the competition will be honored and the award ceremony will take place.
In addition to the competition prizes, two special prizes will be awarded on the evening. This means that all participants who have not made it into the top three by then will have another opportunity to win one of the two special prizes.
The Lean Special Prize is decided by the audience and the jury. For this purpose, participants from the competition are selected and the opportunity is offered to pitch their start-up idea on stage in 3 minutes. The founding idea, which in the opinion of the audience and the jury, best uses the lean method within its startup, receives the special prize of € 3,000.

The second special award goes to a startup that has implemented software development in a special way. Both B2C and B2B startups are considered. The prize is fee-free processing credits of € 50,000 for using the online payment processor Stripe, Inc.

This is followed by invitations to networking and dining. A warm buffet as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks will round off the evening.

All participants in the competition will automatically be given a spot on the guest list for the final event. If you are not going to take part in the contest, but would like to be there at the final event, then apply now for a place on the guest list.


Design by startupmario.com

#Build, Measure, Learn

What does lean mean?

If you are unsure what exactly lies behind the Lean Startup Method, we strongly recommend that you take a look at our toolbox! There you will find tools that will help you both for the competition and for your startup life!

Startup toolbox


Our experts

Norman Nemitz

Norman Nemitz

© Anja Harnisch

I am a tried and tested consultant, lean startup coach and certified Design Thinking Professional from the HPI School of Design Thinking. I help teams to practice a change of perspective and to make big leaps without major processes – so that problems become ideas and ideas become sustainable solutions.

As a facilitator, moderator and sparring partner, I accompany teams – from startups, hidden champions, to DAX corporations – in their diverse innovation and change processes at eye level. I ask questions, strengthen visual and playful collaboration, peer learning and creative problem solving in a team.

Shai Hoffmann

Shai Hoffmann

© Peter van Heesen

I’m a social entrepreneur, activist, and crowdfunding series starter. As (co-) initiator of various projects, such as Karma Classics, Bus of Encounters, Democracy Bus and currently Israel-Palestine educational videos I can convey to you what is important in communication, especially in your pitch video.

In my workshop I will teach you how to work out a captivating story, which equipment you can use to create the video and which questions you should definitely not leave unanswered in the pitch video.

I’m looking forward to you and above all: your idea!

Armand Lidtke

Armand Lidtke

Hi, I’m your marketing consultant for content marketing & social media.

Countless launches and campaigns have taught me what good storytelling can do and I want to pass this knowledge on to you. And at least since I founded my own creative agency (www.tropen.com), my heart burns for team spirit & entrepreneurship.

In the workshop I will help you to promote your videos in such a way that as many people as possible see them and really want to vote for you.

How it works? With eye-catching images, clever texts and a few tips & hacks. You will use social media via learning by doing so that you get the best output for your campaign. I’m happy for that!


Lean workshop series: 7 – 9 October 2020, 10:00h – 17:00h

Expert feedback: 10 – 15 December 2020; online


Worskshop Pitch video (Date has changed!): 5 November 2020, 14:00h – 18:00h

Expert feedback: 10 – 15 December 2020; online


Marketing workshop: 3 December 2020, 14.00h – 18.00h


Questions & answers

You can be in the pre-founding phase with your startup or have already founded it – both are ok.

To participate in our competition, your company cannot be older than one year.

Yes! We value the following points:

  • Problem-solution fit
  • Hypotheses testing
  • Minimum viable product
  • Agile
  • Iterative approach
  • Build measure learn
  • Business model (Lean Canvas/Business Model Canvas)


Stephan Meyer-Brehm

Stephan Meyer-Brehm

E: stephan.meyer-brehm@hwr-berlin.de

T: +49 (0)30 30877-1657


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