The One Thing About a Pitch Day No Startup Can Resist

August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

You’ve probably heard it before. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon it more than once. ‘Valuable experience’ is what every accelerator’s Pitch Day description reads. And so it is. A Pitch Day is like the first job interview, no, it’s better, it’s like your first draft publication the editor gives you back all redlined with extensive feedback. It’s anticipation, evaluation, acknowledgement and, that’s right, it’s all about the feedback. Testing an app with tools like UserTesting or NewRelic is one thing, but if you want to check up whether customers will find your product useful or inventors worthwhile, you’d better talk to them. Engage someone. Someone who can tell you where exactly you and your startup are at and how should you go about it. This is where an accelerator team comes in handy. It all starts with a Pitch So, how does an open Pitch Day unfold? Well, it’s open to everyone. In a pretty informal setting, aspiring entrepreneurs meet people who have already walked the path of building and leading their own company successfully. These are the accelerator’s mentors - the industry’s pure knowledge-in-person and an accelerator’s most powerful asset. There’s also the accelerator team members, who have also crossed swords with business more than once. There’s the other startup teams, too, attentively observing the competition, just as you do. You are given 5 to 10 minutes to present your team and idea. Your pitch need not be your masterpiece, but in case you’d like to follow the rule of thumb, make sure it covers the essentials: introduction, problem, solution, business model, team, and the investment you are looking for. Immediately afterwards you are given... Honest Feedback There is one thing about feedback and that is the earlier you get it, the better. The faster you open up to the startup world, the greater your chances to access its resources. Racing against time, you’ll have enough of it as for your idea to mature. Investors can evaluate the potential of your product. Perhaps what you consider to be a core feature becomes the whole product, or perhaps you lack a feature. The accelerator team can advise whether you should go after investors, grants, or customers. What your startup's stage of development is. Are you ready to approach your first customers? Can you explain your product’s value to investors? Should you have more team members? Once you’ve gotten your validation, an accelerator team can further provide you with meaningful ideas on how to get your product into the hands of your first customers. Understanding how to enter a market, create demand for and distribute your product, is just as important as building a great product. For that part, though, you’d need a bit more than a day’s time.  But for now just practice You are serious about that thing, right? So, you’ll probably need to pitch your startup again, and again, and again. Your pitch is your ally. To perfect it, you need to practice. Practicing at home is OK, but unless you stand in front of a real critical audience, you will never feel the thrills and cold sweat of a pitch. An Open Pitch Day is the perfect opportunity to kick-start your efforts. What’s more, the accelerator team will tell you right on whether your pitch sucks or not, will advise what to add or leave out and how to make sense of your entire ‘value proposition’. Now that you have your fair share of comments, you can sit and indulge the pitches of the other startup teams, absorb some more feedback, and sip a cup of coffee or tea. There’s a lot to learn from observing. There’s a lot to chat about in the evening. So a Pitch Day is like a reality check-up, it’s like… Maybe you want to experience it yourself? Would you miss out on that? Just plunge into it and let us help you. There are no strings attached - we @sbcHighTechXL are curious what excites you and keeps you up at night. We’d like to sit back and get a dose of your contagious passion. This is why we have invited the Investment Managers of Brabant Development Agency (BOM) for an inspiring pitching session, here at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. Cannot make it to Eindhoven? We will come to you in Berlin, Istanbul, and Athens. Ready? Let’s meet.  

Gearing up for Demo Day: SBC Berlin partners with API startup 3scale

August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Demo Day is still a few months away, but we are excited to already announce 3scale as our official event API Partner. 3scale will not only be a sponsor of Demo Day, but will also hang around to speak with transportation and energy startups about their API strategies and needs. Startupbootcamp previously collaborated with 3scale for our Transportation & Energy Hackathon and are stoked to be working together again! Find out more about 3scale from API Market Development Director, Manfred Bortenschlager: 3scale is a startup and we are in the business of managing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). We make it very easy for organisations to expose data or services via APIs in a controlled and managed way. Our API Management solution allows control over essential features such as API usage policies, rate limiting, access control and security, analytics and reporting, API documentation, developer portals, and monetization and billing. In particular, 3scale experienced a strong growth rate in the Transportation, Logistics, and Energy sector. Our customers include SITA, Transport for London, Flightstats, transport API, Transpo, Cabforce, TransiCast, or tripspot. We are strengthening our API thought leadership position through various publications (see latest publications) and are working more intensely with the sector through various marketing- and developer outreach activities such as the Smart Transportation and Energy hackathon with the Startupbootcamp. We are very happy to advise the startups of the Startupbootcamp in all sorts of questions related to APIs: design, technologies, strategy, marketing, adoption, or exploitation. 3scale operates on a freemium model, and we provide a discount to the startups of the Startupbootcamp. In addition to supplying API Management solutions for API providers, 3scale does a lot to develop and grow the API market itself. The figure below summarises the main activities. The second column describes our activities to support the consumer side of API Management: APITools. In other words that is a tool for developers to help them stay on top of the various API integrations from different API providers. This tool makes managing API keys easier or helps monitoring API performance in real-time – all in one place. Finally, API requests and responses can be intercepted and modified directly. That can be very handy if a response should be optimized; or simply for caching.  The third column is about market education and evolution. 3scale organizes and runs the largest vendor-independent conference about API Strategy and Practice to discuss best practices, share lessons-learned and eventually advance the whole API space. We maintain the APICodex -- a repository of technical articles about APIs (mostly about design, implementation and technology).  We contribute substantially to open API specification and data models such as API Commons. Finally, we developed the open-source API Search Engine APIs.io with which we want to tackle one of the core challenges of the API market: promoting APIs to increase adoption (for API providers) and finding relevant APIs (for API consumers = developer). We are very excited about this collaboration with the Startupbootcamp because we are convinced that SBC is a superb program and that Transportation and Energy is a great sector with exciting challenges to be tackled by startups. We look forward to getting in touch with the various startups more in-depth and hope that we can contribute to your successful acceleration.

Top 3 must read books for startups

August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

For the last couple of days we've had mentor and Lean Evangelist Kees van Nunen giving workshops and inspiring the future giants in Copenhagen at Startupbootcamp Mobile. We sat down with him and asked a simple question: “What would be the 3 most valuable startup books you would recommend to every entrepreneur and why?” Here is the list that Kees came up with: 1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries Topic: Business development Why you should read it: Hands down - Lean startup methodology currently is the way to develop successful business. Build. Measure. Learn. Sounds easy, right? Well, real life tends to disagree. If you haven’t read this book yet, fancy yourself with a valuable investment of time - read it. Inspirational quote: “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” Average reading time: 6 hours 2. The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick Topic: Customer development Why you should read it: This book is currently the single best book about customer development. It simply fits perfect into our fast paced entrepreneurship environment and it does a tremendous job encouraging us to challenge ourselves and to shred the delusions we have about our company. Save your time by learning how to ask the right questions to find out if your business is as good as your mom sincerely claims it is. Inspirational quote: “Every time you talk to someone, you should be asking a question which has the potential to completely destroy your currently imagined business.” Average reading time: 2 hours 3. Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz Topic: Product management Why should you read it: We've all heard that data collection and data analysis is important - but where should we put our focus? What exactly should we measure? By which means should we measure it? The book answers these and many other invaluable questions regarding analytics. A deeper insight on the Measure-part of the Build-Measure-Learn loop. Inspirational quote: “If you measure something and it’s not attached to a goal, in turn changing your behavior, you’re wasting your time.” Average reading time: 8 hoursWhat is your opinion on these books? Would you prefer something by Steve Blank? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Interview with Kristjan Maruste of coModule

August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

In the next in our series of interviews, we are talking to Kristjan Maruste of coModule. coModule is a platform designed for light electric vehicle manufacturers. It monitors battery characteristics, displays them to the end-user’s smartphone and collects usage data. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your team-mates? So we are four guys from Estonia, we all studied at the same University. I studied Mechatronics, one guy studied Electronics and Programming, and we have one guy who studied Thermal Engineering, but he is our Android programmer, and finally we have one guy who studied business and production management. So we all have engineering backgrounds, but we also have a lot of experience with administration and the business side. We came together in a project called Formula Student, where we built racing cars for the university, and competed all around the world. The last car we built was fully electric, and we wanted to commercialise this technology after we graduated. We started a company that did engineering services for electric vehicles, and from the client’s feedback we came to the product we have at the moment. So you came together with the building of this racing car, were there others also in the team at this point? Actually, just three of our team were in the racing car team, we found the fourth member of our team in Barcelona. We got an opportunity to go to Barcelona Mobile World Congress to compete at a challenge called University Mobile Challenge, but this meant we had to have an app. At this point we were just developing technology for batteries so we didn’t have an app, but we had an idea that we could connect our technology to an app. We had two weeks to build an app and a demo vehicle, so I wrote on Facebook “does anybody know anyone who can build apps?”. A guy who was a friend of a friend responded, and we met up two hours later. After determining that he could build the app I asked him when he could start, he said “tonight”. He said it would take less than two weeks, and when I told him that we don’t have any money his response was, “no problem”. This is how we got the app guy. We got the first prototype finished in time for Barcelona. There were about 300 teams competing and we made it to the final 16, and from there we made it to the top 6. Is this the first startup you have been involved in? I would say this is the first startup, I have had two other companies registered for engineering services and things like that. I even had a company where we bought foosball tables and rented them out at university, which was my first entrepreneurial adventure. How did you hear about SBC and what made you apply to this program? Nine months ago I gave up my work at the University to focus on the company, so I haven’t had a salary since then. Then our business developer gave up his job about four months ago, but then we still had the problem that the electronics guy he had a job and the software developer had a job, so it was really hard to get them focussed on the company. We thought that if we went to an accelerator we would have to be there and we would have to focus - plus we would get some seed money to stay alive. We actually applied for an accelerator in China, but that didn’t work out. Then we applied for SBC and also for an Estonian accelerator and we got accepted to both. We decided to come to Bootcamp because it was focussed on Transportation and Energy. What is the best piece of advice you have received so far? We have gotten so much great advice, I would even say that the best thing that has happened is that we have actually got a really good cooperation going on with a German company. We gained this opportunity through the first day of mentoring. We have also gotten feedback on all aspects of our business, and I think one very important part has been financing, how to get it and in what form. Before Bootcamp we didn’t know much about convertible loans, we thought you always have to give equity the moment you want to get financing, which is actually not the case. So it turns out a convertible loan is a very good option for us because it enables you to move a lot faster. What do you enjoy most about living in Berlin? Bootcamp. I come here at 8am or 9am and I leave at 9pm or 10pm. So you haven’t seen anything of the city? No. And I am not sad about that, because Bootcamp is what I am here to do. What do you miss most about home? My girlfriend, because I got engaged just after we had the selection days. I left from the stage and I ran to the plane and the next day we got engaged. Before the Bootcamp started we were planning our wedding. So I miss my family, and my girlfriend most of all. If you had to be stranded on an island with one other team, who would it be and why? That is a good question! It is difficult because you have to look at who you get along best with, but also look at who has the greatest potential, because I would say Counterest, but if you were on an island, there is no-one to count! So you would need a team who could build a ship or a helicopter, but I am not sure we have any of them! If you enjoyed this interview and want to find out more about about them you can visit their website, http://comodule.com/, to find out more.

In memoriam Mark Harrison

August 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

It’s with great sadness that we share with you that Mark Harrison, co-founder of Startupbootcamp alumnus 7Write and beloved mentor of several of our programs has passed away yesterday morning after a brain stroke and subsequent complications.Mark walked into our lives on a sunny day in spring 2013, wearing his sandals with socks and a smile on his face which never seemed to fade. Together with the 7Write team he had flown almost 15,000 kilometers to chase his dreams, here with us in Amsterdam. We got to know Mark as a dedicated entrepreneur and a true friend. Even after 7Write had left the office, Mark regularly visited us as one of our most loved mentors, to catch up or to get a drink at Hanneke’s Boom with the new startups. We will never forget the twinkle in his eyes, that hinted that his boyish enthusiasm was never far away. Always willing to help those that got stuck in business or life and someone we could always count on. We will miss him with all our hearts and still can’t fully understand what has happened. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. Hans Koning, mentor and friend of Mark's, has created a tribute page for Mark on the web: http://respectance.com/tribute/mark-harrison/ Please share this message with all whose lives you know were touched by Mark. -- “Mark , it's hard to believe what happened...what can I say..you were an amazing personality with a very big & warm heart. See you on the other side.” - Patrick“First I'd like to express my sincere condolences to Mark's loved ones. It's unbelievable that he's not with us anymore. I remember one of the most dedicated entrepreneurs I've ever met at Startupbootcamp. A great guy who shared my passion for electronic music. I'm grateful I've met Mark and I'll never forget him.” - Ruud “Thanks Mark for all the talks & beers we had with each other. We have both learned a lot along the way. I am sad you can't execute it but I will try to help keeping your dream alive!” - Marc -- Wednesday, August 27 at 18:30h we will gather on the bridge to Hanneke’s Boom to pay our last respects to Mark. We welcome everybody and ask you to bring a white flower, as a symbol of the blossoming of Marks life that was so suddenly taken away from him. We will then share a drink in Hanneke’s Boom to celebrate his life.

Startupbootcamp Istanbul – Panelists Announced for Demo Day September 16

August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

On Tuesday, September 16th at Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Turkey, come watch our 9 startups present their products for the first time and to hear insights from innovation experts and industry leaders from Lyft, Turkcell, and TEB. Join the top Investors, Venture Capitalist and our 9 startups from all around the region, as they showcase their products to the world for the first time ever. Don't miss this year's batch - be among the first ones to witness the launch of their journey as Startupbootcamp alumni. Register for the eventbrite here