It’s a bit like a rollercoaster at the moment. You’d think that because the program for 2012 concluded on October 1st, that things would have quietened down by now. In fact it has never been busier. That’s partly because we’re now starting to announce some exciting plans for 2013. But we’ve also completed a strategic review of our achievements over the last months to evaluate what has worked and what needs to be improved.
The 10 startups that were based in the Vodafone Headquarters building in Amsterdam have now “graduated”. Startupbootcamp still has an 8% share in each, but the formal mentor program has ended. Eight of the ten have gained the funding. We’re talking about a total valuation just below €20 million Euro. Seven of the startups came from outside the Netherlands. All have decided to stay in the Netherlands, most building their HQ in the Amsterdam area. And their activities have generated over 70 jobs in the region… the exact number keeps rising as the teams increase their technical and marketing teams.
The ecosystem expands
So we have good reasons to be pleased, though that’s no reason to relax. We’re still living in challenging economic times. But the interest from investors to provide seed capital is growing even in Western Europe which is often described as risk-averse. I’m pleased to see we’ve kick-started local interest in start-ups in several ways. I look forward to the day when investors reserve a portion of the portfolio for startups – 5% would be ideal. The start-ups have obviously benefited from mentorship, not only in the run-up to demo day, but, for some, mentors became investors. So our accelerator has a long tail. We’ve also seen the benefits of working together with colleague cities in the Startupbootcamp network. There are programs running at various different stages in Berlin, Dublin, and Copenhagen. The latest to join us is a program in Haifa, Israel. That staggered approach is deliberate – the point at which start-ups benefit from acceleration is crucial to their development – too early or too late is not good. We have plans for other cities too, but rolling out in each city needs a lot of preparation. We’ve seen an explosion in the number of accelerators, incubators, and bootcamps to a point where just announcing an accelerator program has become a little too easy. But getting it embedded in the local network of entrepreneurs, building a mentor network “of excellence”, finding the right sponsors and organising the practicalities – that’s always more complex than you could ever imagine. We want to get it right. So our growth is planned, structured and always based on experience.
Global Reach. Local Impact
We also benefit from being part of the Global Accelerator Network. At a recent meeting in Chicago, no less than 50 top accelerators were present, including Startupbootcamp and our colleagues at Techstars. Our US colleagues are now running programs in 6 locations, including New York, Seattle, Boston and Denver. Together, this global network has helped 617 companies to get established, creating no less than 1642 jobs. And each start-up has picked up, on average €350,000. I’m pleased that our teams in Amsterdam are not far off this figure. Our mentorship has enormous value. But so does getting funded. We’re convinced that our methods are working. The advantage of the Startupbootcamp philosophy is our ability to adapt the program to suite the local investor climate and take full advantage of specific expertise in a particular city. We’ve been delighted with the strong backing from corporates, as well as interest from Universities.
We’re focussing on the selection of top tech start-ups for the program starting in April 2013 (Applications are open from November 1st on). We’ve been running Open Pitch Days for start-ups to try out in front of panel of investors. There’s one more chance for people to do this on November 19th 2013. Sign-up is free and teams can either present in person or over a Skype channel. But we do recommend that teams read the advice from this year’s alumni first. Remember it’s all about the team, not just the brilliant idea. At the same time we’re working on other ways to support our alumni in their path to Series A funding, as well as some other plans which we’ll announce in a few weeks. Clearly, we’ve only just begun!