Smartphone screen on as desk shows icon of the Clubhouse app.
Clubhouse is taking social audio to the next level

Lately, many people are hanging out in a Clubhouse. But what makes this new social audio app so irresistible? It may come back to a worldwide pandemic, something called “ephemeral audio”, and a FOMO – or is it a PTBT?

Smartphone screen on as desk shows icon of the Clubhouse app.A comment by NMA’s Managing Partner Nico Lumma.

When Clubhouse took off over half a year ago in the States, nobody in Germany really paid any attention to this new audio-only phenomenon that was big among the Silicon Valley tech crowd. But a week ago Clubhouse started to get a lot of attention and traction in Germany. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that barbershops and salons had to close on Dec 16 all across the nation and everybody becomes less and less presentable for Zoom calls.

Clubhouse is establishing a new format rather quickly: ephemeral audio. The basic insight behind this that people like to listen to other people talk about a subject. We have seen this concept before in political talk-shows, or the pre-game and post-game analysis in sports, experts discussing televised parades of kings, queens and other dignitaries, and so on. Clubhouse takes these talks to a different level with its audio-only approach: listeners can become active participants by raising their hand and being picked by the hosts to join the stage.

Hand holding up a pair of Apple's AirPods.

A nice distraction for the Generation Airpods

Clubhouse has very low barriers of entry and is geared towards the Generation Airpods: we’re all getting used to having audio around us and use earplugs or headphones for this all the time. And Clubhouse is certainly benefitting from a pandemic that has been going on for a year now and has led to people practicing social distancing and being at home almost permanently. People miss discussions with other people beyond work and family. This is where Clubhouse comes in and offers a nice distraction for a lot of people.

Right now Clubhouse is invite-only and also only available on iPhone, but the company just announced that they raised a substantial amount of money in their Series B round that will value this very young company at over 1 billion US $. Of course, this evaluation reflects the potential of the company and not the current status with roughly 2 million users. It’s easy to ímagine how Clubhouse can make money in the future with paid talks, advertising in talks and a subscription fee for users who want more features and a better experience.


A lot of pundits argue that the biggest strength of Clubhouse is FOMO – fear of missing out. Since everything is live and won’t be accessible as a recording, users have to be in Clubhouse to find out what’s going on. There’s certainly some truth to that and it is astonishing to see how many people have so much time right now to hang out in Clubhouse.

I would argue that PTBT is also a great feature of Clubhouse: pretending to be there. You can linger around in the different rooms and people see that you are there and you don’t have to do anything, not evening listening to anything people say, but you are present nonetheless. In that regard, Clubhouse is a lot like an endless conference about everything and nothing – it depends what you get out of it and it is totally up to you.

Meet us every Monday at 5 pm for Media Innovation Monday on Clubhouse!
On February first we’ll be talking about Media Innovation and Ecosystems in Europe. Save the date!

Smartphone screen on a desk shows the participants of a room in Clubhouse.

Here are our four main takeaways from running a Virtual Accelerator for the first time.

  1. How to: Virtual Event Formats and Community Creation
  2. How to: Tools for a Virtual Accelerator
  3. How to: EU projects online
  4. Outlook: will there be a Virtual Accelerator in 2021 as well?

Our Xmas Pitch and Party Event was not just another Zoom call, but a short and sweet gathering of familiar faces from our international community: media managers, investors, mentors, partners from Europe and Israel. It was also an event to celebrate the graduation of the teams of our Batch 11  into the ever-growing NMA alumni family. We prepared a Christmas playlist, some had mulled wine in hand, some dressed up to watch musicube, Frontpage TV, DigiWhat and ForTeeNews pitching on the virtual stage for the last time this year.

Even if 2020 was an exceptional, remote-only year, we were willing to make it work.

Virtual Accelerator final Event

Some participants really put in a lot of effort and nailed the Christmas theme.

Virtual Accelerator: Only virtual? But how do you bond?

And what a year it has been – the year of virtual-only:

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the media industry heavily, we decided to run the accelerator fully virtual.Physical events were converted into virtual formats such as First Look Event, Spotlight Event Series (topics: Audio, Workflow Magic, Gen Z), Facebook Live-Lunch Sessions as well as the Virtual Media Match.

Our main challenge and biggest learning was on how to create a sense of community – virtually only. With our Batch 11 teams we created a weekly routine of exchanging in a Zoom call: we got into their offices, living rooms and were occasionally walked around the respective city they are living in.

Which Tools does it take for a Virtual Accelerator?

For bridging the digital gap, we used Slack in daily communication, the video solution of our alumni team Sceenic, Zoom for bigger events, for ecosystem management as well as Calendly for scheduling meetings more easily.

Create, Change, Innovate – we at the accelerator as well, had to step up to this challenge. We were not only running an accelerator program fully remote for the very first time in NMA history but also surpassed big milestones … you can take a guess … right … virtually only.

Virtual Accelerator and two EU Projects that got kicked off online

Helping startups grow by connecting them to relevant key players and cooperating with our partners in pan-european projects is our passion. We foster this by contributing to two EU Projects: MediaFutures and STADIEM. The latter focuses strongly on the cooperation between European Media Tech Hubs in Bergen, Tallinn and Brussels as well as networks like f6s, Martell and EBU.

STADIEM project is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme under Grant Agreement number 957321. 🇪🇺

The MediaFutures  project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 951962. 🇪🇺

Virtual Accelerator in 2021 as well?

When looking into the crystal bowl for 2021, of course we would wish for bringing back more physical encounters, hybrid events, and real connections. For now, we have to evaluate week by week and monitor closely how the pandemic situation evolves. Yet still, we hope that we will be able to come back to celebrate  our traditional Demo Day with the teams’ final pitches on the big stage at the Hamburg music venue KNUST (our traditional Demo Day location).

So, we at NMA have only one wish for Santa: Bring back the physical stage in 2021. Thank you – and happy holidays to all of you!

For the third edition of the Virtual Media Match, Ines Woermann made sure that it’s really quiet in her home office. The founder of helloguide put up her new ring light and prayed that Amazon would not ring the doorbell. “This year, networking is challenging. Companies often lack time for focused discussions with potential startups, as many have switched to short-time work and have enough to do with their core business”, Ines told us. 

Like Ines, most of us spend every day working remotely from the same desk at home. Hours of video conferencing fly by as we sit glued to the screen. That may be tough, but there are no big conferences to attend right now, at least not the real ones with thousands of people and nice encounters on the sidelines. It’s something our Managing Partners Nico and Christoph really miss.

So, how do we create opportunities for one-to-one meetings with fresh sources of ideas? With inspiring people? With potential business partners that have a similar mindset?

A simple idea, brought to the virtual space

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One of our answers is to regularly host a Virtual Media Match. In November, nearly 120 people joined our third edition of the proven matchmaking event, sending out more than 160 meeting requests. Overall, we held three editions of the Virtual Media Match in May, August and November. All that combined, over 440 people met in 300 sessions.

Virtual Media Match 3 Screenshot

The idea of Virtual Media Match is simple: Lots of people with different backgrounds connect with each other prior to the event. When the day of Media Match has come, attendees have already scheduled their meetings and are ready for individual video sessions, 20 minutes each.

Why we keep on working on new forms of networking like the Virtual Media Match 

For each of the three Virtual Media Matches we brought together enough people for a gainful experience – partly because we offer everything in one place. At the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it was a new experience for us to host events virtually only. But we started to see the beauty in it.

Christoph, one of our Managing Partners, sums it up like this: “The big strength of our Media Match going fully virtual is that the participants make valuable connections on-screen, in a very convenient and time-efficient way without having to travel anywhere.” 

Of course, we prefer real conferences with real stages and real encounters. But matches are matches and people are people, right? Yes, we have to admit that it’s not easy to get people to join virtual events especially toward the end of the year. (is “Zoom fatigue” really a thing?). But the Virtual Media Match is worth every email, every campaign and every call, even after its third edition. We just love to connect with people and be up to date when it comes to media innovation!

Virtual Media Match: Some things are missing, some will remain

For Ines the digital solution is also not a complete substitute for face-to-face meetings in real life: “The third dimension is missing, as is the chance encounter.” Still, she insists that the Virtual Media Match is much more than just a pale substitute in Corona times. She has had very efficient conversations, people have been concentrated and scheduling prior to the event was quick and easy. “It’s something that may remain, even when we can all meet again.”

At this point of 2020 we could not agree more. But while looking at the coming year, we start to wish for more: organizing matchmaking in real rooms AND in a virtual environment.

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Gen Z ? Young and digital native: these are keywords commonly used to describe the Generation Z (composed of those born between late 90’s until early 2010’s). For publishers and news organizations, there is no doubt that Gen-Z is a valuable audience. The challenge is: how (and where) to reach them?

TikTok seems to be the answer – for now. In the fourth edition of our Spotlight event series (you can check the previous editions here), we invited media managers and startup founders to showcase their successful examples producing and sharing content exclusively for a younger generation on social media channels.

Here are the highlights of the exchange:

Sharing news can be a fun business

Tagesschau is way more than the traditional German news show running for nearly 70 years: it is the most successful TV news program in Europe. Why, then, did the Tagesschau team decide to adventure and create their own channel on TikTok? Andreas Lützkendorf, Head of Innovation and Strategy departments for ARD.aktuell, explains: instead of creating a youth sub-brand, they want to make “Tagesschau” attractive to the younger generation and via TikTok they are able to reach a more diverse audience that is not among those who follow the show via TV or website.

After one year of producing short clips for the social media channel, from summary of news to fun bits showcasing behind the scenes, Andreas highlights that news production channels shouldn’t be afraid of addressing news and politics on platforms like TikTok “Even a serious brand can be fun”. Important is to maintain the essence of the brand.

Gen Z & The power of community

Another asset of TikTok is the ability for content producers to build up and engage with their community – via comments, likes and interactions. Frontpage TV, startup from NMA’s batch 11, produces short, entertaining shows on TikTok and partners up with creators (or influencers) to increase their reach. “Influencers know how to build their audience”, share Sven Oechler and Lukas Heining, co-founders.

Spotlight Gen Z - Frontpage TV

If working with influencers has proven to be a successful way to growth hack, it is important that brands trust those influencers and give them freedom to share messages to their audience. That is a statement that Anna Juliana Jaenner, founder and showrunner of HashtagDaily, agrees to. The startup runs a soap-opera exclusively on social media (started on Instagram and now mostly on TikTok). The reason why such a traditional entertainment format still works lies, according to Anna Juliana, on the fact that people desire to see and hear stories that they can relate to – and that’s something that doesn’t change with new platforms, it just requires adaptations and new formats.

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Instagram, TikTok…and what’s next?

There are multiple ways – and channels – to reach out to the Gen Z. ForTeeNews, the startup founded by 18-year old Pierre Caulliez, decided to use Instagram to share news updates in short, snackable posts. Pierre explains that his decision to start with posts (instead of vertical videos) follows the goal of trying to engage teenagers – especially those in highschool – to read news content. 

One thing seems to be unanimous among participants of the Spotlight edition: platforms change their importance with time and there will always be a next big thing that will require publishers and content creators to adapt and innovate. When asked about which platform looks promising as the next big thing, participants of Spotlight tend to all agree: it seems that we will be all talking about Twitch in the very near future. 

 Get first-hand updates about the startups and invitation to join our (digital) events: SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.

Participants of the third NMA Spotlight discuss new workflows for sales and marketing departments.

Nowadays, companies have an ocean of data available, be it from reports, news articles or analytics, just to name a few. In order not to drown among all this information, organizations juggle with several tools for collecting, processing and sharing all these inputs. 

How then can startups make the data managing process more simple and faster, especially when it comes to sales and marketing departments? This has been the main topic of our third “Spotlight” event (check also the topics of the first and second editions). We gathered a crowd of experts in the field to navigate the challenges and opportunities for sales and marketing workflows. Here are some highlights:

Screenshot: The NMA startup DigiWhat takes part in the third Spotlight event.

Successful Marketing: How to win the trust of customers

There are several companies offering tech, innovative B2B products. What they all have in common is the need to be perceived as trustworthy by their customers.

1. Case studies

One way of building trust among companies is to present case studies (sometimes referred to as use cases or success stories). They feature concrete examples of how an innovative product works and they summarize key data that can be read by marketing and tech departments. The NMA portfolio startup DigiWhat has developed a creation process tool for B2B use cases: easy for companies to share their success studies, rewarding for media companies to publish them. Here’s how it works.

2. Less complexity

Market Intelligence departments know the struggle of having to monitor market and competitors’ data very well: loads of updates coming up at all times. Midesk (from our batch 9) is the platform to relieve this pain: it allows companies to automatically generate structured data from news articles, making the process of collecting and managing information faster and less complex for companies.

3. Easy Testing

Our guest speaker, Julian Stahl, Senior Manager Corporate Development at New Work SE, has had the opportunity to try Midesk first-hand by doing an Easy Testing. The platform was implemented by NewWork’s internal system to help Market Intelligence departments have more structure and precision when monitoring the markets. When asked about the experience of working with an early-stage startup, he highlights one advantage: “You are able to shape the software to your own needs.”

☄️ Get first-hand updates about the startups and invitation to join our (digital) events: SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.

Virtual Media Match – Vol. 3

One week from now our Media Match goes Global! Media industry professionals, founders and investors listen up! Come join our #GlobalMediaMatch on screen on November 25th.

What is that? Easy, convenient matchmaking that fits your individual schedule: The event takes place from 2 pm to 6 pm CET. You can arrange as many meetings as you want in this time-frame (each meeting lasts 20 mins max). 
No matter where you are in the world – we invite you to meet like-minded, inspiring people to grow your network. (Be convinced by reading about our first successful edition of the format)

Don’t miss out on the opportunity and SIGN UP!

Global Media Match
Global Media Match

….we promise it’s super easy!

….so don’t forget to  SIGN UP!


☄️ Get first-hand updates about the startups and invitation to join our (digital) events: SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.

The next media accelerator (NMA) is delighted to announce that it is part of two projects funded by the European Union. They are set to shape the future of media within the realm of the European Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020: MediaFutures and STADIEM. Both focus on fostering cross-border cooperation and on strengthening the ties amongst the key players within the innovative sector. MediaFutures is centered around creatives and entrepreneurs whereas STADIEM is connecting accelerators, sandboxes and other Innovation Hubs. 

NMA Managing Partner Nico Lumma sees the projects as driving forces in media innovation: “At the NMA we are honoured to shape the future of media innovation within Europe by reinforcing our network and providing both established key players within the media industry and startup founders with new perspectives and opportunities for collaboration”.

“This again highlights the relevance of the topic: Innovation and digitization projects need to be on the agenda of every European publishing house.”, adds NMA Managing Partner Meinolf Ellers.

About MediaFutures – European Union Project 1

MediaFutures Logo

The MediaFutures Project is set to create a data-driven European innovation hub for the media value chain with a special focus on the usage of data. Overall the project consists of three Calls – each holding three tracks – one for startups, one for artists and a third one that connects both groups. 

The NMA is in charge of acceleration and will take care of the tracks accelerating startups and the ones connecting entrepreneurs with artists. Applications for participating in the program can be submitted in the 1st Open Call open from November 2020 until end of January 2021. Startups will receive access to the broad network of the NMA and will profit from mentors and advisors.

Project kick-off was on September first and the project will run until August 31st of 2023. It is coordinated by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, with its L3S Research Center. Its objective is setting up a transnational European data innovation hub that brings together startups, SMEs and artists in the media value chain to expand on standard models. New ways for people to engage with quality journalism, science education and democratic processes will be explored in joint products, services, digital artworks and experiences that will reshape the media value chain through innovative, inclusive and participatory applications of data and user-generated content. 

Besides the NMA there are nine partners involved: 

Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique musique – IRCAM (France), Den Institute (Belgium), Zabala Innovation Consulting, S.A. (Spain), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Luiss Libera Università Internazionale Degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (Italy), Fundacio Eurecat (Spain), Open Data Institute LbG (United Kingdom), King’s College London (United Kingdom).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 951962. 🇪🇺

Find the project on Social Media: LinkedIn and Twitter

About STADIEM – European Union Project 2


The aim of the STADIEM EU project is to foster the success of European media startups by cross-border innovation, market growth development as well as pilot programs between startups and innovation hubs and other actors. There are more than 3 Million Euros available for funding.

The Role of the NMA will be to connect EU Hubs and to strengthen the European ecosystem for startups. To do so, the project encompasses two open calls as well as two programs. The calls will be kicked off in February 2021.

It got kicked off on October first 2020 and will run until September 30th 2023. The project is designed to tackle the following pain points: Cross-border scalability, startup to corporate to market tech transfer and availability of innovative media services in a Digital Single Market framework. Moreover, the goal of the project is to strengthen the ties between accelerators and sandboxes whilst focussing on technologies such as 5G, Cloud, IoT, VR, AR, AI and wearables. There are seven stakeholders participating in the project: Storytek Ou (Estonia), Media City Bergen As (Norway), the NMA (Germany), Martel GmbH (Switzerland), Union Européenne de Radio Télévision-Ebu (Switzerland), F6S Network Ireland Limited (Ireland).

The project is coordinated by De Vlaamse Radio en Televisie om Roeporganisatie NV (VRT).

Find the project on Social Media: Website, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

Disclaimer: The text reflects the author’s views. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

About the NMA

The next media accelerator (NMA) is an independent accelerator funded by over 30 media outlets in Germany and Austria. NMA invests in early stage media tech startups from Europe, Israel and USA providing innovative solutions to disrupt the media.

Since its foundation in 2015, NMA has successfully built an alumni network of over 74 companies. During the past years a strong international community was created. With several partners on board in the USA, Europe and Israel, we aim to expand and strengthen the hub for media innovation in Europe.


With so many ad tech startups offering all sorts of solutions and big technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon eating big slices of the revenue cake, one can wonder: is there still room for innovation when it comes to advertising nowadays?

Boosting Advertising with Data: NMA Spotlight Event

We believe so. In the second edition of our Spotlight event series, we invited international startup founders and managers from agencies to discuss the advancements, challenges and trends for ad-tech. In short: Boosting Advertising with Data. We summarized the highlights:

NMA’s Managing Partner, Nico Lumma, sees the advancement of digitalization as a potential for new developments in the advertising industry. There are now more and better possibilities to measure and track campaigns in real time, for example. He sees also an opportunity for startups to blossom in the advertising space – the key is to run “small, niche-focused businesses”.

The  “digital revolution” impacts not only measurement and distribution, but also the creative process of developing campaigns. Agencies now need collaborative tools (beyond Slack and Zoom) to make the creation process easier and more effective. The founders of Moderne, could foresee this trend before the worldwide remote-office modus was adopted: they created an online tool where teams can share and receive input and boost their process-creation together. You can try it here.

Spotlight is an event series hosted by the next media accelerator. Each edition shines a light on a relevant topic for the media industry. If you want to join the upcoming editions of this exclusive event for media managers and startup founders, get in touch.

04. November 2020

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Magdalena oder vielmehr Lena Rogl ist eigentlich gelernte Kinderpflegerin – kein Abi , kein Hochschulstudium. Sie ist als Quereinsteigerin Teil der Unternehmenskommunikation von Microsoft Deutschland geworden. Die redegewandte Head of Digital Channels spricht im Fireside Chat mit NMA Managing Partner Christoph Hüning. Unter anderem gehts um Digitales Pendeln, agiles Arbeiten, Empathie und Frauenquote.


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