Since around 2007 there has been a huge outburst of accelerators around the world, especially so in Europe. Yet, since the whole concept is fairly new, there are a lot of questions surrounding the practice. Are accelerators successful? Will it be easier to raise money after an accelerator? How much value can an accelerator program add to your company?
These and many other questions, are difficult to answer. Especially so, when there is very little data available on them. Sure there is some public data, that accelerators must submit, but it is very hard to get a hold of real hard-core statistics. Unless of course an accelerator comes up to you and passes on all of their “books” to you. This is what Accelerace from Denmark basically did and there is a lot to learn from what was inside.
As equity crowdfunding is starting to become more widely accepted, even newer ways of funding and starting a company emerge. Take a look at the recently announced partnership between the originally Swedish crowdfunding company FundedByMe and the Danish accelerator program - Accelerace.
The two companies intend to both “push and pull” startups from and to one another. In other words, you could go through the Accelerace accelerator program and then immediately jump onto the FundedByMe crowdfunding platform in a few easy steps. Alternatively, you could go to FundedByMe directly and then take part in the accelerator program after you are done. You could even include you intentions in your pitch, for example.
The summer is basically over and everything is starting to pick up speed again. Startups are getting ready to launch their products, corporations are back looking for talent and partnerships and investors are almost ready to start considering possible investments. So we were happy to hear that there is a brand new accelerator out there.
Finland already has a fair share of various accelerators and incubators, but it is always good to see new ones that have a very specific theme. After all, that creates the feeling that the people behind it must be specialists in their particular industry. That is why the brand new Nestholma in Lahti caught our eye.
When we first heard about a new incubator in Riga, Latvia we were really excited as Latvia definitely needs a few more. So, naturally, we looked into it and realised that its not really an incubator in its standard form. What the team behind Eegloo will do is take startups at the very earliest stage possible and build the product for you and/or with you.
This is great news for all of you out there that have the "next big idea", but can not find a good technical co-founder or perhaps your team does not have the necessary skills to complete your first prototype. Sounds good, and we were excited.
Iceland has been a fun startup scene for us to follow because the ecosystem is still so new. The anchors of a startup scene, like recurring conferences and acceleration programs, have only been put in place about two years ago, meaning the scene is showing those rapid initial steps of improvement.
A few months ago we turned our eyes to Startup Iceland, the startup conference designed to talk about building a sustainable startup ecosystem and attract attention from the the US and Europe. They recently ran their second conference last June, and it looked like a well put together event.
Startup Reykjavik, Iceland's first startup accelerator, is also currently in its second iteration and building up momentum for Investor Day on the 23rd of August. Interested investors are invited to sign up for an invitation, or to receive a link to the online streaming event.
Finland is notorious for having very long vacations during the summer. Last year, even the Metro was shutdown for a month. The startup spirit, however, remains unbroken and entrepreneurs are working full-time even during the summer. Especially with Summer Of Startups, a two month startup acceleration program by Aaltoes starting their fourth batch on the 7th of June.
The program provides a 5 000 EUR grant and access to a network of seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals. You might remember Catchbox, Healthpuzzle and Netmedi, all of which were started at Summer of Startups.
Startup accelerators are popping up all the time and normally it is not such an exciting piece of news. However today, Yandex, the Russian “Google”, announced a seed stage accelerator of their own. This is in-line with other corporations that are trying to be closer to the startup ecosystem, for example Google sponsoring TechHub.
Russia is an interesting beast with a lot of talent and ideas that will definitely be home to many great startups. However, there are still elements missing as was evident at the latest Slush, where many Russian companies pitched side-by-side with the rest of Europe. The ideas were brilliant but the presentation and pitching skills were often lacking.
Even without the ecosystem around Spotify we've got a lot of hot music startups popping up in the region - whose late nights of hacking are already fueled by Red Bull - so here's an opportunity for a much stronger collaboration. Red Bull has now gotten into the startup accelerator game, plugging music-tech startups into their networks and media properties, all while not taking any equity. The program, called Red Bull Amplifier will be based in London and is currently accepting applications from european-wide startups.
Red Bull already has a music label and eight recording studios worldwide, and is helping up-and-coming musicians through Red Bull Music Academy, so this seems like a somewhat logical step to make sure their brand has close access to the up-and-coming music tech and services that will help market their brand. On top of that, Red Bull is everywhere though events, giving startups access to real consumers.
If you were thinking about moving to Denmark to set up a company, you now have an interesting program to apply to. LaunchPad Denmark is a new government sponsored accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs within or outside of the European Union to get set up in Denmark get professional coaching and training, access to capital, cash prizes, sponsorships, and access to Denmark's entrepreneurial community.
Starting March 18 participants can register for the competition and upload their business plans, video pitches and give information about their motivation to come to Denmark. In total, 30 entrepreneurs will be selected.
The Startup Wise Guys: Part II is now in production. The Tallinn-based accelerator has taken in eight teams and is stepping on the gas pedal for the next three months with the help of 80 mentors and the #Estonianmafia. Their Winter '13 batch includes teams from Russia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Hungary, and Chile, and begun yesterday by talking to alumni, getting a tour of the city, and a welcoming party at Garage48 HUB.
Below you'll find a list of the accepted teams. Company descriptions have been provided by Startup Wise Guys.
The Arcticstartup Region has been through a lot of changes in the past 5 years. The startup scene used to be inexistent but now you can apply to an accelerator nearly at any time of the year. Startuphighway, Lithuania based accelerator is now accepting applications for their third batch.
Since their launch in 2011, they have had reasonable success, where around three quarters of all startups in their 2011 batch received funding. One startup from that batch caught our eye and has been doing very well, raising funding and going places. We are eager to see how well the second batch is doing.
Iceland just saw the final day of their first startup acceleration program, Startup Reykjavik. The ten week program ended with an Investor Day on August 17, where the ten teams pitched to a private group of angels and VCs.
"Looking back, now that the program is over, I think it was a huge success," says Stefán Þór Helgason of Innovit Entrepreneurship Center. "All the people who participated in making Startup Reykjavík a reality e.g. the mentors, the participants and the general entrepreneurship environment here in Iceland all agreed that this program must go on, giving more entrepreneurs the chance to take part in the 'unfair advantage' accelerators like this give them."
The list of companies accepted to the first Startup Wise Guys accelerator in Tallinn have been released.
Seven eight teams have been accepted, with three from Estonia, and one from Croatia, Ukraine, Germany, The Netherlands, and the UK. Techcrunch reports that the accelerator received over 200 applications. The program will begin the 23rd of April and will end with a Demoday June 30th in Tallinn and July 6th in London.
Here are the teams (plus one startup accepted at the last minute):
After the financial collapse, Iceland finds itself at a perfect time to embrace entrepreneurship. The country has the education and tech talent needed to support new industries, but being an economy of 300,000 people in the middle of the Atlantic leaves entrepreneurs without much hands-on support. To help kickstart a new era is Iceland's first accelerator, which is taking applications right now and is starting this summer.
StartupReykjavik is built in the Y Combinator / Techstars model where entrepreneurs are mentored for 10 weeks and then pitch to investors at a Demoday. Accepted companies are also given 2 000 000 ISK (€12 000) for a 6% stake, a place to work, and free services. The deadline to apply is May 7th, and the program starts the 1st of June.
Nest New York is a new kind of a startup accelerator (can we really call it that?) in New York that helps Finnish companies establish themselves into the US market, according to Finnish Talouselämä. The setup is a combined effort by Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) as well as Teknologiateollisuus (The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries).
The companies currently accepted into the accelerator are PlayMySong, Campalyst, Stream Republic, Wantlet, MobileBrainBank and Kiosked.
(Article edited to correct that Wiseguys does take 8% equity)
Hot and fresh out of an event in Riga is a new Tallinn based accelerator: Startup Wise Guys. The accelerator is built in the modified Y Combinator model with a similar setup to Startup Sauna in Finland. Getting accelerated involves a 13 week program, demo day in Tallinn and London, and €5000 of funding per founder for 8% of equity. To build some hype, Wise Guys is also offering €500 for any startup referral that makes it into the program (this is my get rich quick scheme-- you heard it here first). The application process is open from 9th of February until 11th of March and the program starts on 25th of April.
New out of Norway is betaFACTORY, an incubator with the goal of mentoring and funding 50 companies over the next 3 years. The incubator will be located in downtown Oslo and was put together using the same fundamentals as Y Combinator, TechStars, and other intensive incubators that provide a strong focus on customer development and give a small amount of seed funding. I got the chance to talk with Brian Weisberg, the founder of betaFACTORY about who they are and what they're looking for. The deadline for the application is January 8th.
Nordic Startups, a brand new accelerator program for Swedish web and mobile startups, will soon start its operations in Stockholm. According to the accelerator's representatives, the program will be modeled after some of the world’s leading accelerators, such as TechStars, YCombinator and Seedcamp.
Nordic Startups plans to take in six new startups every three months. During each three-month period, the accelerator will provide startups with in-depth coaching, mentoring, office space, and a fun and enriching work environment. The program is largely based on lean startup methodology and includes an investor demo day as well.
You may have met some of the team behind the new Amsterdam-based Rockstart Accelerator if you were present at Slush in Helsinki, or the Startup Weekend Copenhagen. Over the last 18 months, the team behind Rockstart Accelerator organized Startup Weekend events all across Europe, in London, Copenhagen, Athens, Bucharest, Warsaw, Bratislava, Brussels, Prague, and Amsterdam where they saw about 200 startup teams and 3000 entrepreneurs participate. It's not a bad way to get to get name out to the freshest young teams across Europe.
Rockstart Accelerator is open to all types of startups, whether they are in technology, sustainability, retail, or other sectors. The Program starts on March 1, 2012, and the application period ends January 6.
Timo Ahopelto, Blyk's Head of Strategy and Business Development and a co-founder and the founding CEO at CRF Health is leaving Blyk to join co-founders of a new Finnish startup accelerator, Lifeline Ventures. Lifeline Ventures is also part of the Vigo initiative (see our previous story on Lifeline Ventures here).
Ahopelto said that he has enjoyed his time at Blyk, being part of the very first team, but that he had been thinking about setting up a startup accelerator already for a while, and when the team heard about Vigo they didn't wait. Blyk moving to its mobile operator partnering model, Ahopelto assures that Blyk is growing fast and the future for the company as youth media looks promising, even though some have their doubts. As an example of the new evolved strategy is Blyk's first deal with Vodafone in the Netherlands, where Vodafone will provide Blyk-branded consumer services to young people under Blyk user experience and ad formats.