After some time we realized that things are as far as not easy as they seem to be. “Yeah, let´s build rockstar websites and sweet apps, which will have gazilion users and make gazilion of cash”. Aha….Well, let´s get started first of all. We are kind of broke and have no real idea of how to do make it right:)) So we started looking for opportunities, where we can get knowledge, support and money. And there are several things to reach out to, which seemed quite appealing.
1. Business Angels: Nice uncles, who want to invest in great ideas and support young visionairies with their experience and networks. Sounds awesome! But, many of them want to see a working prototype and better some traction, like first users or even first paying customers. Damn, looks like we don´t have anyhitng of it …
2. Incubators: German well known incubators, like Rocket Internet (Yes, with very famous Samwer brothers on Board), Hanse Ventures in Hamburg and Team Europe in Berlin, look for founders with awesome ideas and help them executing this ideas very fast by investing seed money, provide market experience and support with their own team and infrastructure. That sounds even more awesome, right? So we applied to HV and Springstar, had a couple of interviews with no further success. Our ideas were too expensive or too hard to realize, while the market seems to be already filled with competitors. Well, we believe that we can do like nobody out there!
3. Accelerators: Ok, so let´s look a bit more abroad. Startup Accelerators, like famous YCombinator or TechStars in the U.S., are looking for founders in early stage to take on a three months bootcamp, providing access to mentorship, training and seed money. At the end of the bootcamp the teams pitch in front of angels and investors to attract more funding. Let´s think of this bootcamp as a Start-Up MBA, with a hands-on approach.
After a little research we figured out that Europe has it´s own great accelerator programs, like Startupbootcamp (co-founded by a very nice guy Alex Farcet), Seedcamp, Springboard in London (co-founded by Jon Bradford) and StartupWiseGuys in Tallinn (co-founded by Jon as well:)).
Of course there is an enormous competition for the hot seats, which usually include up to 10 teams for each bootcamp.
By entering the WiseGuys we competed with over 200 other start-ups. Have a look on their fancy homepage, if you are interested: http://startupwiseguys.com/en
So, then we´ve been invited to the finals, we didn´t believe that we made it that far! We haven´t showed any kind of working prototype during the last interview, but we promised to do so, if we get selected to the finals. So after short euphoria we started to work our ass off for the whole week, as only a week was left till the finals. Chances were not that big, but we decided to go all in and spent our limited budget on last-minute flights to Tallinn and better get this thing done!
Check out our Tallinn Finals trip while Philipp spent the last 48h coding and Olga+Stan 48h rethinking!
After we got to Tallnn, we still spent half of the night coding and finetuning the presentation. But then the panel discussion started the next day, everything was pretty short and painless. A day after we got the confirmation, Philipp took his flight back to Berlin and quit his job at Groupon the same afternoon. Wow
Oh yeah, so we´ve made it! And now we need to make the most out of it:)
Lesson learned: “When you truely believe in yourself and yourself, other people will believe in it as well.”
Picture of StartupWiseGuys (the first half of the team:)