THE EUROPEAN ACCELERATORS IN NUMBERS

by Teodora Mircheva and Ivaylo Simov

At Eleven we are striving to be the biggest, fastest and baddest accelerator in Europe. Well guess what, we have some numbers* to prove we are moving there quickly.

There are only three accelerators that have invested in more startups than Eleven (and, mind you, this is since inception). These are Launchpad (Dublin), Seedcamp (London) and Wayra UK (London). If we count multiple locations Wayra would top the list for 2013, followed by Startupbootcamp, but we believe the different cities are somewhat different programs, so that’s why we have listed them separately.

In analyzing the data we came up with some interesting findings. Sofia is the #3 accelerator capital after only London and Dublin, slightly ahead of more famous startup hubs like Berlin and Paris.

map-num-startups

*Only the top nine (by number of startups) cities are included in the table below.
City # startups
London 255
Dublin 237
Sofia 92
Berlin 87
Paris 87
Brno 73
Amsterdam 49
Tallinn 44
Barcelona 42

Also the most active funds have some of the best terms (money wise) for startups – see infographic below. Indeed we believe it makes sense for startups considering accelerators to choose bigger accelerators (because of the excellent networking and peer collaboration opportunities) with better terms – like us (hint, hint) or our friends from Techstars London, which offer $100k convertible note to all their teams on top of the equity investment.

So enjoy the numbers and draw your own conclusions.

scatter1

<— scroll table left and right for full detail —>

Name Location Year Establ. Total Startups 2013 Startups Investment Investment (€) Equity URL
NDRC Launchpad Dublin 2008 168 40 € 20,000.00 € 20,000.00 n/a Link
Seedcamp London 2007 111 35 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 10.00% Link
StarCube Brno 2010 73 8 € - € - 0.00% Link
Wayra UK London 2012 59 40 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
Eleven Sofia 2012 57 35 € 25,000.00 € 25,000.00 8.00% Link
TechStars London London 2010 51 21 $ 120,000.00 € 90,000.00 10.00% Link
Le Camping Paris 2011 48 12 € 4,500.00 € 4,500.00 0.00% Link
Launchub Sofia 2012 35 18 € 30,000.00 € 30,000.00 10.00% Link
Startupbootcamp Copenhagen 2011 30 9 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
hub:raum Berlin 2012 30 n/a € 100,000.00 € 100,000.00 10.00% Link
Startupbootcamp Amsterdam 2012 29 9 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
Ignite100 Newcastle 2011 28 10 £15,000.00 € 17,692.50 8.00% Link
Wayra Spain Madrid 2011 28 10 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
Bethnal Green Ventures London 2010 26  n/a £15,000.00 € 17,692.50 6.00% Link
SeedRocket Barcelona 2008 26 1 n/a n/a n/a Link
TechPeaks Trento 2013 23  23 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 0.00% Link
Gamma Rebels Warsaw 2012 24 10 € 12,000.00 € 12,000.00 10.00% Link
Oxygen Birmingham 2011 24 8 € 21,000.00 € 21,000.00 8.00% Link
Startup Wise Guys Tallinn 2012 23 15 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
StartupYard Prague 2011 22 6 € 10,000.00 € 10,000.00 5.00% Link
Gamefounders Tallinn 2012 21 15 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 9.00% Link
Startupbootcamp Berlin 2012 21 11 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
Rockstart Amsterdam 2011 20 10 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
Startup Reykjavik Reykjavik 2012 20 10 $16,000.00 € 12,025.60 6.00% Link
DCU Ryan Academy Dublin 2010 19   n/a € 30,000.00 € 30,000.00 7.50% Link
Startupbootcamp Dublin 2012 17 7 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
NDRC VentureLab Dublin 2010 16 4 € 100,000.00 € 100,000.00 n/a Link
Axel Springer Plug&Play Berlin 2013 16 16 € 25,000.00 € 25,000.00 5.00% Link
Wayra Spain Barcelona 2012 16 9 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
Open Fund Athens 2009 16 8 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 10.00% Link
Startup 42 Paris 2013 14 14 € - € - 0.00% Link
Farminers Moscow 2011 13  n/a $150,000.00 € 112,740.00 40.00% Link
Nextstars Paris 2012 13  n/a € 10,000.00 € 10,000.00 n/a Link
Orange Fab Paris 2012 12 6 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 n/a Link
ProSiebenSat.1 Munich 2013 12 12 € 25,000.00 € 25,000.00 5.00% Link
NEST’up Wallonia 2012 11 6 € 200,000.00 € 200,000.00 n/a Link
FitStartupFactory Istanbul 2011 11  n/a n/a n/a n/a Link
Wayra Germany Munich 2012 11 4 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
Wayra Ireland Dublin 2012 11 10 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
hub:raum Krakow 2012 11 n/a € 100,000.00 € 100,000.00 10.00% Link
YIN Incubator Berlin 2010 10  n/a € 25,000.00 € 25,000.00 0.00% Link
Berlin Startup Academy Berlin 2012 10 5 participation fee participation fee 4.00% Link
Startupbootcamp Madrid 2012 10 0 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
Startupbootcamp Eindhoven 2013 10 10 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 8.00% Link
Eastlabs Kyiv 2011 9 2 $20,000.00 € 15,032.00 15.00% Link
ACME labs Budapest 2013 8  8 n/a n/a n/a Link
Startup Highway Vilnius 2011 8 0 € 14,000.00 € 14,000.00 7.50% Link
Wayra Czech Republic Prague 2013 8 8 € 50,000.00 € 50,000.00 15.00% Link
Huge Thing Poznan 2012 7  n/a PLN 30.000.00 € 7,137.00 10.00% Link
Pearson Catalyst UK (virtual) 2013 6 6 $15,000.00 € 11,274.00 0.00% Link
Launchbox Dublin 2013 6 6 € 10,000.00 € 10,000.00 0.00% Link
Dotforge Accelerator Shefield 2012 6 0 n/a n/a n/a Link
Emerge Education London 2013 6 6 £15,000.00 € 17,692.50 10.00% Link
The Accelerator Athens 2011 5  n/a n/a n/a n/a Link
Idealabs Antwerpen 2012 4 0 € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 10.00% Link
YIN Accelerator Munich 2010 3  n/a € 500,000.00 € 500,000.00 n/a Link
BetaFoundry Oxford 2011 3 0 £5,000 € 5,897.50 10.00% Link
EcoMachines Incubator London 2013 2 2 £100.000 € 117,950.00 n/a Link
Buildit Tartu 2013 n/a n/a € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 10.00% Link
Tolstoy Summer Camp Moscow 2013 n/a n/a $100,000.00 € 75,160.00 n/a Link
Industrio Trento 2013 n/a n/a € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 n/a Link
Black Forest Accelerator Lahr 2013 n/a n/a € 12,500.00 € 12,500.00 7.00% Link
Tex Drive Moscow 2011 n/a n/a $25,000.00 € 18,790.00 10.00% Link
GrowthUp Kyiv 2010 n/a n/a $25,000.00 € 18,790.00 n/a Link
ICatapult Budapest 2012 n/a n/a € 200,000.00 € 200,000.00 19.00% Link
betaFactory Oslo 2011 n/a n/a NOK 100,000.00 € 12,630.00 n/a Link
H-Farm London 2005 n/a n/a € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 10.00% Link
H-Farm Venice 2005 n/a n/a € 15,000.00 € 15,000.00 10.00% Link

Exchange Rates (average 12-Feb-13 – 12-Feb-14)
GBP/EUR: 1.1795
USD/EUR: 0.7513
NOK /EUR: 0.1263
PLN /EUR: 0.2379

Source: Oanda, oanda.com/currency/historical-rates/

*Disclaimer: The data herein has been assembled as a research on the competitive landscape in Europe for Eleven’s own use and broadly represents the market as of the end of 2013. We have mostly relied on publicly available information from the respective accelerators websites. We have not confirmed or verified in any way the correctness of these numbers. If you would like to have certain information updated or removed, please write to teodora [at] eleven [dot] bg. The author and Eleven do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

ELEVEN SEASON VI NOW OPEN

by Dilyan Dimitrov, founder at Eleven (@dilyan_)

Hello, and welcome to Eleven’s sixth application window. As you probably know, we are one of the most active startup accelerators in Europe funding exceptional founders from CEE with up to EUR 50,000 in exchange for 8-13% stake in their projects. Our community has never been stronger with five batches, 57 funded companies, 150+ founders, an all-star cast of mentors and strong network of angel investors. Having that awesome community to support our startups, we are now confident enough to level up our program, and you can read all about it here.

You are probably super excited and keen to file your application, and so are we! But as we have seen great teams steam through their application, not letting it shine on the best side of their project, we want you to have a better grasp of what lies ahead and share with you some tips on how to tailor an application so that it immediately reveals your potential.

As usual, our application will be open for a month – starting February 1st and ending exactly at midnight on February 28 (GMT+2, that is). During this period we will most likely receive hundreds of applications, and in the course of following month we will carefully review, interview, interview again, and select the best of them. Our evaluation process goes through three stages.

1. We will REVIEW AND EVALUATE *all* applications. This usually takes about a week and in the next couple of days we discuss internally and boil down the list to the best 50 projects. Teams with high average scores, or teams with mixed (some high and some low) scores usually make it through.

2. Next, we send out invitations for SKYPE CALLS to the 50 teams. The interviews are 20 minutes each, and are scheduled over two days, with an extra backup date a day later. As interviews are back to back, we are always excited when teams have tested their skype connection ahead of the scheduled time, so we can focus on discussing projects instead of solving connectivity issues. Following the interviews, 20-25 teams receive an invitation to our Selection Days.

3. SELECTION DAYS is a two-day event, starting with several presentations, continues with meeting some fantastic mentors, and ends up with a workshop on the perfect pitch. This way we help teams refine their pitches, but also we use the opportunity to get initial feedback from our mentors. During the second day, each team has a 20 minute interview with our extended investment team, including a five-minute pitch and 15 minutes of Q&A. At the end of that day, we select and send out notices to the selected teams.

As you may guess, it is always easier to convey passion and commitment in a personal meeting. To get there, though, you need to go through the first stage, so aceing up your application is critical to stand out from the crowd and catch our interest. That said, and keeping in mind your application will have our undivided attention for a very limited time, here are a few tips to make it stand out.

1. START YOUR APPLICATION EARLY (as in, now). This will give you more time to research some aspects of your project you may have not considered in detail, but we will want to hear about.

2. GET A REFERRAL. Think about who you know in our network, find them and pitch your idea. If they like it, we will hear about it. If not – you will at least get a different perspective, and some good advice on how to improve it.

3. BE CRYSTAL CLEAR in your answers. Do your homework before you respond, and try to be very concise, but comprehensive, in your answers. And please, respond to the question at hand, don’t beat around the bush in hinting us what the answer might be.

4. Make sure you i) are not SINGLE FOUNDER, ii) are ready to COMMIT 100% on the project and join the program in Sofia; iii) have all the talent you need for your project in your *CORE* TEAM; and iv) provide a VIDEO. If you have a solution for global warming, or another problem of similar magnitude, you may skip some of the above, but otherwise, you will have very strong competition.

5. DON’T TRY TO BS. We value honesty and integrity, and if for a moment we feel someone is trying to hide something, we will be very quick in discarding them.

6. BE PREPARED. Know your product, market and competitors better than we do, and have the means to prove it. Because if we find a competitor you did not know about, you are busted.

7. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. Be realistic when talking markets, clients and potential, as if we hear that your market is every living person on Earth (or even everyone with a smartphone), we will probably just stop reading.

8. Finally, don’t repeat these COMMON MISTAKES in filling in your application.

(i) Don’t password protect your demo/video – as I said earlier, we will have very limited time for each application, so keep it simple for us. You can always use an obscure URL for privacy.

(ii) Don’t make us download stuff – again, if we have to download and open a 100 MB video or 25 MB PowerPoint presentation, we may end up not waiting for the download to complete before moving to the next application.

(iii) If you have a demo make sure it works.

(iv) Don’t send tips via email after you finalize. It is hard to reconcile emails and applications. If you cannot provide something before the deadline, just skip it. If your project is good, we will call you anyhow.

(v) Invite each team member to the application. This tells us your whole team is committed.

(vi) Finalize your application! For us this means you said everything you had to say, and you are happy with it.

I am sure you can find a lot of resources on the Internet on how to impress an investor, and we have been very honest about the things we like and don’t like, as well as the projects we have already funded (here, here and here). So if you really want to impress us, walk the extra mile and read through some more posts. And we promise to do our part of the walking, paying special attention and going into detail with your application.

Looking forward to seeing your awesome projects at www.f6s.com/elevenS6! Good luck!

ELEVEN 100

by Ivaylo Simov, founder at Eleven (@iisimov)

In one year we’ve done a lot (see info.eleven.bg) and we’ve learned a lot. We feel ready to step up our game a notch, so welcome to Eleven 100.

WHAT IS ELEVEN 100?

An accelerator program on steroids for more advanced startups.

WHAT WE OFFER?

EUR 100k!

That’s right. EUR 50k for 6% plus EUR 50k as a convertible note after the first 3 months.

You’ll get to spend 3 months in Sofia in our excellent coworking space with access to great mentors and the opportunity to collaborate with peers at a similar stage as you.

WHO IS IT FOR?

Projects beyond the initial acceleration stage that have found the enigmatic product market fit and are ready to go ballistic.

Companies that are either raising their next funding round, but are still a few months from closing it, or companies that are on the verge of becoming profitable with a small extra push.

The ideal candidate may have gone through an accelerator recently or has an angel or two on board. It probably already had a few pivots before figuring out what its customers want. It can demonstrate it has hit a chord with its target market by growing revenues and traction.

IS IT FOR MY STARTUP?

Use your best judgement. We also have our standard Eleven Accelerator Program open investing EUR 25k for 8%. Think twice before selecting which option is more suitable for your startup. We shall not look kindly at pre-mature projects claiming EUR 800k valuation. We know the terms are more attractive (like 3x more attractive), but we’ll be looking for 3x more mature companies.

ANTICIPATED FAQ

How do I apply for Eleven 100?

We use a unified application form for both Eleven 100 and our standard programme, available at www.f6s.com/elevenS6. Just make sure you chose Eleven 100 from the drop down.

Can we skip the coming to Sofia part?

NO

We have a big team, can only some of us come?

YES, as long as all key people do.

We have not been through an accelerator and we don’t have any angels. Can we still apply?

YES, but you need to demonstrate impressive traction.

We’ve been working on our prototype for many months and invested EUR XXXk, but still haven’t launched. Can we apply?

You can apply, but you’ll most likely get rejected. Please consider the standard Accelerator.

Can you invest more than EUR 100k?

YES, we can invest up to EUR 200k in aggregate and we usually do it in incremental rounds depending on your needs, progress and interest from third party investors.

What’s next?

For the time being Eleven 100 is a one-off experiment. You’ll be the ones that show us whether it’s successful and then we might repeat it next year.

And we’ll not stop here. Look out for specialized cohorts in the next months in different verticals…

THE IMPOSTOR’S SYNDROME OR WHY YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN SUCCESS

Guest post by Kathleen Fritzsche, StartUp Stuttgart

A new year starts, a lot of new resolutions ensue. In startup business, that usually means working even harder, going to more high-level networking events to make contacts and scaling your business tremendously. But what does it mean on a personal level? Is working hard the only key to success?

Being successful is the ultimate goal for entrepreneurs, given that your startup has a 20% chance to survive and is even less likely to excel in terms of product-market fit and revenue. You read all those success stories every day in the respective startup media. But they are only the positive side of the medal; nearly nobody speaks of the other side publicly. Startup life is indeed hard and risky; finding a way to make people pay for your product or service is often like searching for the Holy Grail of startup universe. Working nearly 24/7 will become routine during the first years of starting your company. If only there weren’t all these doubts about following the right track and the misbelief that when something finally turns out right and users pay for your product, that it’s your merit of working your butt off for the last two years.

This phenomenon is often called impostor’s syndrome. It includes all the entrepreneurs who doubt their own success; fairly often expressed by female entrepreneurs as well. They don’t believe in their accomplishments even if there is external evidence and other people are giving you special credit for it. This sensation is as well frequently expressed by people who are being accepted into startup bootcamps, special educational experiences (read Pia Henrietta Kekäläinens interesting thoughts about being accepted to Singularity University); and also accelerator programs.

All those prospects are the great opportunities of your life. Take them as they come and believe in your skills and your success. Discuss your doubts with other people to develop different perspectives and solutions! The path is rocky but worth traveling to grow your own business. Make the best of it and use every opportunity to learn on the way!

10 NEW TEAMS WILL JOIN ELEVEN NEXT JANUARY

Less than three months ago, in September, we announced our fourth batch of fantastic startups that joined the family. Today, we are happy to share our latest additions from batch 5, to enter the Roof early next year, but not before we share some insights and brag a little.

We have been investing for a little over a year now, and for that time we have reviewed thousands of projects, met hundreds of entrepreneurs and invested in 46 companies – about one each week. But there is one number which is even more important – 121 (yeah, I know, 11 squared, but again – not intentional). This is the number of the founders of these 46 companies, and it will be safe to assume, a good chunk of the high-tech entrepreneurs in the region. Combined with the few hundred mentors within Eleven’s network, the outreach of this community is enormous.

This showed up clearly at our last Selection Days, when 20 teams from Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, Slovenia, Greece, and, of course, Bulgaria, spent 54 hours in Startup Weekend style discussing their project and presentations with our alumni founders as mentors. We are so excited to present the ten teams that stole the show at the selection day.

123 SALE WITH ME

Despite the odd name, Boian and Bozhidar are doing exactly what we like to see in our teams – a simple, straightforward solution that aims to disrupt the POS market for small and medium outlets. With deep industry expertise and hacker skills, the team was the perfect fit to the project.

EDGAR THE STORYTELLER

With a great story to tell, Damjan’s Edgar managed to lull us all into investing in their project. But seriously, everyone has a story to tell, and Edgar is exactly the tool for SMEs to make these stories fascinating. Hurray for our first Slovenians on board.

FARMIA

With one foot through Eleven’s door, the Serbian Farmia has one more milestone to hit before we seal the deal. Aiming to change the way livestock producers interact with the buyers, from introductions to transportation and payment. Being introduced by our friend, mentor and scout Vukasin Stojkov, only helped.

FIND YOUR MATCH

Part of the team of the project just leveled up from mentor and advisor to founder at Eleven, and so far our experience with such transitions has been great. Targeting the difficult space of job search and matching, the team is using power tools including semantics and analytics.

JOIN THE PLAYERS

brings the amateur sports experience closer to the professional game by offering video and highlights of mini-football matches. Well into the project, the team needs just a small push to conquer the world. It’s the 3rd or 4th startup of some of the founders, but this time they have nailed it.

LEAP

All founders at Eleven being into some sport, and half of them – into extreme ones, Ilko and Joe had an easy task into liking their sports networking platform. Being close to the market themselves, the guys had an easy sell.

PARTY WITH ME

We’ve looked into the entertainment industry before, but not the way Ned and Dimitar do. Integrating most recent technology achievements in real life situations, they hit a sweet spot with wearable hardware.

STEPSSS

Another wearable gadget coming straight from the last Startup Weekend Sofia.  And our second team after Magin having under aged founders. Sorry moms. Don’t forget to vote for Stepsss at Global Startup Battle.

TOURVIA.ME

We first met Bojan and his team this summer in sunny Budva, where they were officially announced the first ever Montenegro startup to pitch to an audience. Well, they pitched their guided tours portal into Eleven. Another first, both tourism wise and country-of-origin-wise.

YANADO

An all-star team from Serbia, with years of expertise and a few successful projects behind, Ivan and Prvoslav are aiming high with teamwork collaboration tool. As the internal jokes goes, having an Ivan in the team got them half way through, and the rest was easy.

The community grows naturally but what really matters is the quality of the projects. What makes us extremely happy is the fact that start-ups are becoming better and better with every batch. These teams have gloriously won the first battle, but the struggle is just about to begin and a lot of hard work needs to be done in the next few months. Good news is that with so much positive energy on their side and a lot of support on ours, everything is possible. Let’s wish them good luck and welcome them on board!

FAIL FAST FALLACY

by Ivaylo Simov and Dilyan Dimitrov, founders at Eleven

At every startup conference (we’ve been to a lot) there’s usually at least one important d*ck to propagate the bullsh*t fail fast mantra in his or her presentation. Usually it goes with other copy paste advices for startups, including the exact opposite perseverance slide.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Originally, the term fail-fast was applied to systems immediately reporting any failure or conditions that can lead to a failure. The result is, instead of steaming ahead and generating flawed output, the system will stop till the fault is corrected.

Further down the road the term was adopted in the startup world with the meaning of “experiment fast”, e.g., when you see something does not work at all, stop pushing and try something else. Finally, today, a lot of people put to it the meaning of fail fast – e.g. when you see it does not work, stop trying.

WHY IS IT BAD?

Red Bull Air Force

Red Bull Air Force

Do you think the first base jumpers thought failing fast is an option (thank you, Alex Hunter for the inspiration)? Or, imagine if Thomas Edison considered this a viable alternative when experimenting with the light bulb? Would we all be shooting funny birds at sick green pigs if Rovio gave up on any of the 51 attempts to make a game before Angry Birds? You can make your own conclusions.

CAN IT BE GOOD?

Now is the time to draw a very clear line between failing after you put your best effort into succeeding, and failing when the going got tough, because I don’t think anyone anywhere should tolerate the latter. If “failing fast” refers to experiment fast and change course quickly, it can actually be applicable to many different processes and in many cases with early stage startups.

Also, we believe that failing after trying your best and learning in the process can be extremely valuable, especially if you go through it all: form a team, set up a company, launch a product and pivot a few times routine. And especially when the MBA education available around is in the range of a few hundred thousand euros, and you can go through the above loop for less than 20k. But mind you, if you approach a project with “yeah, I will fail, but I will learn” from the start, well, you have it all wrong.

WHAT IS BETTER THAN FAILING FAST?

Well, a lot of things, but here are our personal favorites.

  • Do not fail at all
  • Succeed fast
  • Launch fast (yes), learn fast (yes), pivot and adjust quickly (yes)
  • Fail slow (no), fail your customers (no), fail with somebody’ elses money (no)
  • Fail hard (and we shall highly respect you, but only after you’ve gone the extra mile with the 4th try)

WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

We’ve heard the arguments that fail fast is a misnomer, but unfortunately it has taken a meaning of its own, which promotes a notion that there’s nothing wrong in giving up early and provides an easy excuse for failures. Ultimately failing fast is egoistic, immoral and irresponsible to all your stakeholders (partners, employees, shareholders, clients), particularly to your early investors, who entrusted you with their money, when nobody else would.

So to all the bozos that will continue to pitch the fail fast meme:

GO FAIL FAST YOURSELF!

Let us know what you think – join the discussion below.

PIVOTS, THE SIGNS OF LEARNING

Guest post by Marko Francekovic, founder at Hungrio, a company invested by Eleven. Check out the original post here.

It’s been a while since I have written about what is going on with Hungrio. September 15th we have arrived to Sofia – as we were accepted to Eleven. I still can’t believe that the three months accelerator program is soon to be over. Twelve more days until we will be on the stage, presenting our progress on the Demo Day. So soon.

The first version of our App is currently in the Apple’s purgatory, waiting to be sent to App heaven or sent to hell (my Xcode). But the path to this version was filled with crossroads and end of the road signs.

I want to explain the thoughts and reasons behind each of our pivots. It’s funny how behind each pivot lies the same end goal - help people make better restaurant choices by giving them deeper insight about what is going on in the restaurant.

PIVOT #1 – THE SCARE

Few days before we have started our journey to Sofia we talked and got really scared of building a two sided market. So during the first week we turned from the two sided market towards a SaaS solution aimed to help restaurants manage their online presence – thinking a more beautiful, photo centric, daily updated and easily shareable‘restaurant page’ will help people get better info and thus help them make better choice.

First two weeks of the program were centered around lectures + mentoring sessions. During that time we created a mockup which we planned to use when talking to restaurants.

We went out to see how restaurants will react to this product. Lukewarm. They felt this product won’t make or break them. During our conversations with the restaurants we tried to use The Mom Test. So during that week of talking with restaurants we did two things: invalidated our pivot, and learned two important things.

  • restaurants will not input the data by themselves;
  • they are already paying more money than we thought to anybody who brings them customers;

These findings will later on prove to be really important.

PIVOT #2 – THE RETURN

Our initial, pre-pivot hypothesis was that people would like to visit restaurants more often if they had better deals at hands reach.

As we got better at differentiating market segments, we started to understand that we can’t be a general purpose thing. We can’t address the needs of everybody who wants to go to a restaurant.

We took a step back and went back to our initial idea, but knowing that the restaurants will not input the data Ad hoc as their workflow doesn’t allow it. We figured let’s make it schedulable, and let them promote package deals. Which wouldn’t point out a discounted price, but rather be a various combinations of main dish, appetizers, desserts, wines.

In that time we got in contact with Željka, the founder of Croatian Gastro Magazine Mrvica. We have started communicating to learn from her and to see if there is a possibility of a partnership. A really important notion appeared. Željka was willing to get involved – if the content would be curated and carefully selected. Later on it will turn out that we have more things in common with Željka than we thought at first – our love for food and food’s impact on life.

Other important conversation happened with our investor Daniel who happens to share our zest for food. Daniel has a lot of experience in retail and he shared his knowledge with us. I will point out one thing that shaped our vision of Hungrio. He separated retail points in to convenience points and destination points.

For three weeks we were learning new things on daily basis, and I was slowly going forward learning iOS so we can actually build something.

PIVOT #3 – THE PUZZLE

You know when you do a puzzle, and at first you have all these parts, which are hard to match and it goes slowly. But as you progress with time, the picture starts to appear.

This is how I just recently felt when thinking about what we are doing with Hungrio.

There are many pieces of the puzzle, and it’s hard to exactly separate every one, but I will mention three which I feel are important.

1. Be yourself

In one of the million conversations I had with Veli (Hungrio cofounder) we were talking about what is important to us – and that is high quality food, not overpriced food, but high quality, honest food. We couldn’t be building something we don’t care for much just to serve the latest fad. So we dropped any sort of discount thing. Food & discounts – not something we believe in.

Let’s build Hungrio for people who value food and to whom food is important part of life.

2. Distribution

First time I really heard about distribution channels was in a lecture from Max Gurvits. This was five months ago on a conference. Although his lecture was good and fun, I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and how it applies to me.

We are building a two sided market, and it’s just senseless to think that we can approach every user from each side and explain to him how Hungrio can help them.

This is where distribution comes in. It came so naturally. We are talking to Željka (Croatia) and Marina (Bulgaria) about our partnerships without realizing that they are perfect distribution for Hungrio. They already have strong networks, both with restaurants and food lovers. They will become our trusted partners/curators and help us distribute. While we can focus on the product, growth and marketing.

3. Simplify

On all of our pivots, mini pivots we had a lot of features. And each feature seemed ok at first, but each one proved to be a gatekeeper.

Let me give you two examples:

Mobile booking – seems cool right? At least it did to me. But it happens to be that the restaurant won’t bother with any other form of booking they aren’t already accustomed to (read: telephone). Which is totally cool, there will be mobile bookings some time in the future, but not yet. By removing this feature we made our App 10x simpler to use and the user won’t need to log in.

Restaurant dashboard – we spent plenty of time developing a beautiful place where restaurants can input and update their data. What if they never log in? And if the content is curated by our trusted experts, do we need them to log in. We removed the dashboard and we do the daily job for them. This way we can be sure that only the good stuff is available on the App.

Each of these reduced the complexity of the App and reduced need of the scarcest resource we have – time.

FINALLY OVER

Just to tell you what is currently Hungrio: it’s a mobile app where on daily basis you can find great dishes or wines – carefully selected by local experts.

I am not saying that we got it right now, but we are definitely making some sense out of it. The first version of our app, which is far from perfect, should be available in a week or two. We will work on it continuously.

If you are a person who appreciates food give a buzz, or if you work on a startup and want to exchange experiences… Please contact me at marko(at)hungr.io

START TREK 2013, BALKAN TOUR

StartTrekEleven and LauncHUB, the two most active early stage investors in Europe, are organizing a series of meetups with entrepreneurs from CEE starting October 14 in Belgrade, and followed on the 15th in Zagreb, 16th – Banja Luka, 17th – Podgorica and 18th – Pristina. The two funds organize the events in partnership with Domain.me, Microsoft, and local players in the startup community, and the kind support of Netokracija and Start.It.

THE AGENDA

Each meetup will begin with a couple of presentations, giving you insider information and explaining some shortcuts for young technological companies. Dilyan Dimitrov and Ivaylo Simov of Eleven will talk about how to get into an accelerator and what project areas are hot right now. Stan Sirakov of LauncHUB will talk about running fast – shortcuts to success. Finally, Domain.me and Microsoft will introduce their programmes for early stage startups.

GET READY TO PITCH

Next, you will see several 5-minute pitches by local startups, followed by 5 minute fee feedback from a panel comprised of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. The winner for each pitching contest will get two free tickets to Pioneers Festival – one of the best startup events in Europe. If you want to pitch your startup, don’t forget to sign up now at www.f6s.com/starttrek2013 and book a Participant ticket.

BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW

Spaces are limited, so hurry up and get you ticket now at www.f6s.com/Starttrek2013!

Find all details about the event at the official site at www.starttrek.me.

STARTUP IDEAS WE’D LIKE TO FUND

by Ivaylo Simov, founder at Eleven

As we enter our 2nd year and as our 5th application window is just open, I’ll mention a few domains that are of particular interest to us and I’ll venture to spell out some directions we perceive as worthwhile.

I’ve shamelessly taken clue from this list; however, don’t take our list as omniscient of the next big opportunities, but rather as my (in some cases our) preference for things we would love to see and eventually fund, if everything else fits into place, especially the team behind any such ideas.

So without further ado, here’s Eleven’s list, starting with some of the more obvious:

  1. CONSUMERIZATION OF THE ENTERPRISE - A term vastly popularized by Ivan Vesic from VetCloud, this is effectively SaaS for the corporate masses taking best clues from the ease and practicality of consumer apps and bringing similar levels of user experience to your everyday job. Since VetCoud we’ve also invested in Wobeek (for beekeepers), CaseTrek (law firms), GymRealm (gyms) and we expect to have many more. One of our scouts Vukasin has also delved in this direction with his TruckTrek (transportation companies). Weather its ERP or CRM or any other software that makes the company life easier, we expect dinosaur-like enterprise software companies to quickly become extinct, as much cheaper and easier to use niche solutions come to dominate the landscape.
  2. HARD STUFF – it’s the more tangible stuff from our portfolio that has so far generated the biggest interest among mentors, media and investors (this last bit still tbc).
    Hardware is hard. Whether you call it the Internet of Things or firmware or gadgets, combining software with electronics in a nice box is more challenging that a simple mobile app. There are big electronics manufacturing companies with presence in the region, so there are engineers around, and we would love to see more of them becoming startupers.
  3. BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED CONSUMER GOODS - just check out what sells best on kickstarter and the likes.
  4. FOR A GREENER FUTURE - weather it’s green energy or just improving efficiency and waste management, there’s a big push worldwide in this direction. I personally believe that the overall obsession with more environmentally friendly stuff is hardly the most effective method to reduce our global footprint. Did you know that most families in developed countries throw away 40% of all food they buy? Do you think it is better to buy eco-friendly packaged goods or to reduce your overall waste to less than 10%? Ideally it could be both, however the current focus is on the perceived eco-friendliness rather than the overall effect.
  5. AND A HEALTHIER LIFE
    • Healthcare is an old industry that’s ripe for disruption and there should be many opportunities in MED TECH. However beware that there’s very high perceived risk when dealing with people’s health and life, so tread carefully.
    • There’s a big hype about the QUANTIFIED SELF movement, so take advantage of it.
    • Maybe you’ve seen Fast Food Nation or maybe you haven’t, but we are all aware of the lack of naturalness in today’s diet. So here comes anything BIO/ORGANIC. We have carefully ventured with our first project in this category Biottery. However my personal favorite within this space would be someone that challenges the fast food industry behemoths. It doesn’t even have to be organic, as long as it’s more traditional and more natural.
  6. EDUCATION INNOVATION - I do hope my children will carry tablets and not bulky textbooks to school. However there is a fundamental need for change in the education ways (if you don’t know what I mean watch the inspirational talk by Ken Robinson). And no, I don’t mean another Khan Academy clone, although all of them are perfectly fine and we much admire what they do.

Look at some of the region’s competitive advantages:

  1. PEER TO PEER – Eastern Europe (and Bulgaria in particular) is notorious for pirated content, yet apart from stimulating the proliferation of high speed internet (luckily helped by lack of regulation), these vast peer networks have failed to translate into viable businesses models on the right side of the law.
  2. REVOLUTIONIZING THE OUTSOURCING INDUSTRY - Again Eastern Europe and particularly Bulgaria and Romania are best in class in near-shoring, especially in IT. However the abundance of talent in these IT-heavy businesses is also a prerequisite for spin-offs and productivization of in-house developed solutions. Also they could be a testing ground for some new and innovative outsourcing practices.

Try tackling the region’s disadvantages:

  1. e-COMMERCE – whether it is niche e-commerce or mobile commerce or means to service the growing e-commerce market, the region is particularly tough with small countries, different cultures, different languages, small margins. Anybody that can manage to navigate these murky waters should be able to excel on bigger markets.
  2. ADVERTISING FOR THE NEW AGE - even smaller and less developed on a comparative basis versus other industries, the advertising market in the region is so depressed that it has set the ground for a perfect storm, whereby we could jump over several stages of development and create new ways to promote brands and engage customers.

Some less obvious and one clearly controversial choice would be:

  1. THE UNDERSERVED – I already mentioned a couple of areas under the Hard Stuff section, but there should be much more non-web/non-IT projects that are able to scale and apply lean startup philosophy and other startup concepts like actionable metrics, MVP, PMF, etc. It seems that the offline world is very neglected from accelerators and VCs alike, while there could be concepts and niches that yield to improvement in a startup fashion way.
  2. SOCIAL VENTURE – We firmly believe that doing good and making profits are not mutually exclusive, but should go hand in hand. We have a first one in Volofy, but we expect to see more innovation disrupting the NGO landscape in non-NGO fashion.
  3. PROFITING FROM VICE - In recent history, the financial community has put a great deal of emphasis on the ethics and morality of its activities and investments, which has transferred to startups which shy away from certain taboo areas. As Eleven we have our own set of restrictions regarding the usual suspects: gambling, alcohol, tobacco, etc. However because of this overall neglect, the whole vice space is hugely profitable and hugely ineffective. Because of our limitations we cannot fund anything that deals directly with the vices, however we would be curious to see some fringe ideas that defy the usual prejudices rather than put “right” and “wrong” labels on personal habits.

Last but not least, a few of my personal aspirations:

  1. REDUCING THE COMPLEXITY OF CHOICE - Simplicity is the new competitive advantage in a world of more. Articulating the personal preferences of each individual and matching it with the best product or service for him or her is no simple task, but whoever resolves it would become bigger than Google and Facebook.
  2. DEMOCRATIZATION OF INVESTMENTS - SecondMarket, crowdfunding sites and the likes of Angel List are excellent examples. However I still feel there’s a big disconnect between people with money (even regular folks with a few thousand in the bank), people with ideas and companies looking for funding. The problem is even more acute in our part of the world. I strongly believe accelerators themselves shall disrupt the traditional VC model, but there’s definitely a link still missing out there, bridging the gap between founders and money.
  3. MASHUPS – or a combination of any of the above. We had a very complex message on our landing page, which is no longer there, but it’s still valid: “We share the belief that great ideas happen unexpectedly, hatched by the clash of interdisciplinary fields, often at the brink of industries, technologies, sciences and societies. And what better place than Sofia for the next big disruption to start(up) … A place on the edge of western and eastern civilization, modern technologies and ancient traditions, hackers and survivors, where life still has a taste”.

To better illustrate the last point with an example, our guys from Playground Energy have developed a superbly designed toy with some ingenious engineering inside (as per 2 above) and while this toy generates green energy (as in 4), it’s ultimate goal is to encourage kids to exercise (5) and to learn about kinetic energy transformation (6), while it monetizes through appealing to CSR budgets by providing corporates with a green branding opportunity (as mentioned in 10).

If you have a great idea that’s not on this list, don’t be deterred. Please don’t feel that if you want to apply to Eleven, you have to work on one of these types of ideas. We admire people that relentlessly pursue their own vision. And also have in mind that the most important thing for us is still THE TEAM (its resilience, complementary skills, balance, perseverance, passion) as we’ve also witnessed great ideas executed poorly by unbalanced teams and average ideas executed in a superb way by great teams.

On the other hand if your idea fits perfectly within any of the categories, that does not guarantee you success. On the contrary, we are more familiar with these areas and therefore more critical.

Join the conversation about this story below.

THE NEW TEN

by Dilyan Dimitrov, founder at Eleven Accelerator Venture Fund

It was a great summer for Eleven. Doing this, and returning back in the beginning of September, exactly one year after we moved in the Roof with our first batch of 11 companies. It felt almost like the changeover to a new calendar year – a perfect opportunity to reflect on what we learned during the past 12 months; set exciting new goals for the year ahead; and start taking action to achieve those goals. It is like starting Eleven once again – breaking the patterns and habits of the past year and reinvigorating the way we operate. And what better way to do this, than with a brand new batch of exciting startups, joining our family on Monday, 16 September.

We are so excited to introduce our super star batch 4 teams!

DATAMAID, SERBIA (angel.co) – YOUR MULTIMEDIA ORGANIZED SO GOOD, ITS SEXY

We have been following DataMaid for a while, after we first met them in the beginning of April at the graduation of the SEE ICT’s Startup Academy (http://startupstandup.com/), and then we have seen Kat on and off on different events and occasions.

Being fast tracked by our Serbia scout, Vukasin Stoykov, and composed of a hustler and designer, tackling a problem with media, it was a clear winner from the start, and adding a hacker or two prior to joining Eleven did not hurt at all.

FASTOGRAM, LATVIA – A ROCKET-FAST START FOR SELLING ANY ITEMS VIA INSTAGRAM SOCIAL NETWORK

Ksenija, Aleksandr and Dmitry are a textbook example of a startup team – a business developer, project manager and a ninja hacker, that in the next few months will make selling your spare items quick and easy, using Instagram as a platform. Being our first team from Latvia, we are slowly, but steadily, advancing to new territories.

VOLOFY, BULGARIA – PLATFORM FOR GOOD CAUSES

Cvetomir, Ivan and Ivelin are the team that impressed us a while ago with their project, Walk to Help, where they wanted to change the world while walking. With Volofy they have taken a step further, and are finding a way not only to make the world a better place, but to make this into a sustainable business.

The project will facilitate pooling together various skills and resources, required for the realization of a good cause, promoting social responsibility and making the world a little better.

GRUVIT, ITALY (angel.co) – SOCIAL MARKETPLACE FOR MUSICIANS AND PARTY LOVERS

With a team already active in the field of party making and management, Gruvit was an easy choice for us. Luca, with a degree in Digital Music and Marketing, and Mario, an engineer and developer, will help you make your next party a blast, putting musicians and party lovers in touch to create the next unique live performance.

Another first for Eleven – an all-Italian team, now working on their project in Germany, will move to the Roof next Monday.

DATA CRAFT AND MAGIC, BULGARIA – CONTENT CLASSIFICATION AND INTER LINK

With a name, that sounds like a game from ten years ago, and description, that takes a masters degree in engineering to understand, Atanas, Deyan and Iva are able to classify documents in a way that it is producing similarity scores between documents, and keywords to documents relevancy.

If you are still not sure what it is all about, don’t worry – we did not fully understand it either, until they told us, that it actually is a platform-independent software integration solution for information retrieval and semantic indexing over large-scale of text resources. Much clearer, right?

PARUDI, ROMANIA – CASUAL, SOCIAL, CROSS-PLATFORM GAME

Adrian and Mircea almost nailed it into our Games Cohort, they just needed a little more time. This time everything was just right, and their game, Spot the Number, is making it into Eleven. No need to explain the project – you can download the game here and try it yourself.

BIOTTERY, BULGARIA – ALL-NATURAL AND ENERGIZING FOOD FOR ACTIVE PEOPLE

Buryan and Denica are the perfect team behind Biotery – Buryan has identified the need for the product, and Denica knows how to package it and sell it. The project is creating clean, tasty and easy to carry energy, supporting active people in their aspirations to set no limits for what they can do. Protein bars and gels are out there, but the ever growing movement towards natural and bio foods opens a great market for Biottery.

Did you notice we are venturing in food – an unchartered theritory for us and accelerators in general?

TAXIME, BULGARIA (angel.co) – GET THE BEST TAXI NEAR YOU QUICK AND HASSLE FREE

When was the last time you hailed a taxi in Sofia, and it turned out to be dirty, smelly and shaggy? Well, with TaxiMe this may just be your really last time ever. Another Taxi app, you might say. Well, it’s a start and their field execution is quite impressive. This is the team’s second joint project and their vision goes much deeper in the sector. Christo, a seasoned leader with solid commercial experience, and Tihomir, an engineer and developer, are the team that has been bootstrapping the project over the last 12 months.

HUNGR.IO, CROATIA (web) – REAL TIME COMMUNICATION CHANNEL BETWEEN RESTAURANTS AND RESTAURANT GOERS

Imagine a situation, where you just want to go out, but you cannot afford a top tier restaurant, while at the same time, some top tier restaurant has some great dishes already prepared, with no one to order? We give you Hungr.io – the real-time communication channel between restaurants and customers, providing relevant information in the right time to benefit both sides.

Marko and Velimir, both entrepreneurs with experience in ICT, first showcased their project at StartupLive Zagreb, and managed to impress one of our mentors, who then strongly recommended them to us. From there, it was an easy call, that will end up with a short ride from Zagreb to Sofia next week.

WONDERMAIL, BULGARIA – A MOBILE FIRST EMAIL EXPERIENCE

We never thought a 16-year old entrepreneur and iOS developer could ever be interesting for us. Actually, we never though such thing exists, until we met Martin at Startup Weekend in Varna this summer, where he stole the show with an amazing presentation and an even better prototype, which he designed in 54 hours. Together with another member of Eleven’s family, Theodosy, a seasoned entrepreneur and developer, they are aiming high, at fixing the problem with email (if you don’t know what the problem with email is, you don’t get enough emails, but trust us, it is huge).

As a general conclusion, and as always, our new teams are a great combination of applicable talent targeting an appropriate market with huge opportunity to scale. However, one thing is worth noting this time around – for the first time we either knew the majority of the teams for a while (and followed their progress and development), or they were referred by members of our network (or both). We will be looking into integrating this referral approach in our future application windows, so wait for more news on that soon.

We are thrilled to welcome this batch under the Roof on 16 September. We are also making improvements to our already amazing working space, so teams feel even more at home – follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories and footage soon to come!

Tell us what you think about the selected startups, join the conversation below.

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