As my personal travels around Europe continue, so have my visits to Entrepreneurial Hub’s around the globe. First stop was H-Farm Ventures in Venice, followed by a visit to Startup 42 in Paris, France and most recently a visit with both two accelerators in London; Barclay’s Fintech Accelerator powered by Techstars and our International Techstars London Program that just kicked off a new class two weeks ago.
I will start off chronologically with Startup42 in the South of the Périphérique in central Paris. Startup 42 was founded just 2 years ago by Daniel Jarjoura, 29 companies have already gone through the program with 25 of them incorporating. I got in touch with Daniel through the GAN (Global Accelerator Network) that offices in Boulder and I was lucky enough to meet their awesome staff this past summer. I had an opportunity to visit their space and have a delicious Korean BBQ lunch with Daniel. Startup42 is funded in part by EPITA- School for computer science and advanced techniques but is also open to the community. It is a zero equity accelerator with a focus on providing the knowledge and resources to startups.
Daniel and I discussed the different accelerator models in place now and the difference between zero equity, equity without investment and equity by investment. We discussed that in some cases it doesn’t seem quite right to take equity with no investment or “skin in the game”. Of course there are all sorts of circumstances in which immense value can be provided by an accelerator from their resources (space, network, mentors, VC connections, etc.)
Our lunch was not all accelerators though. Daniel and I talked about lessons learned and lessons being learned. As a younger guy in the entrepreneurial world I will always take an opportunity to hear about others experiences and take-aways looking back on their early and current careers. We discussed learning to say no, something that has been hard for me but necessary to maintain personal and professional sanity. As great as it is to be the “Yes Man” all the time, sometimes you have to put yourself first and just say no. Secondly, we talked about the Power of [a/the] Network and giving with ZERO exception of getting anything back. The latter is something that is engrained in the culture of Techstars (#GiveFirst). Meeting with Daniel was a breath of fresh air from being a tourist in Europe and running around. These visits will likely be some of the top highlights of my trip in Europe. Just goes to show it’s not always where you are but who you meet along the way.
Next stop on my Accelerator tour… Techstars in London! I only had 5 nights and 6 days in London so I had to use my time wisely to fit in all there was to do there personally and professionally. First stop after a day of walking around London’s old cities was the Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars. Click if you’re wondering about Powered by Techstars Accelerators and current participants.
Here are just some of the perks that participants in their class have. (as if access Barclays API isn’t enough!)
- First access to a catalogue of Barclays APIs and data
- World-class mentorship from industry experts
- Introductions to the influential Techstars and Barclays networks
- A 13-week programme that could accelerate your business by more than a year
- Full use of The London Escalator
The office space was just a short metro ride away from where I was staying (Metro’s make life so easy…Once you figure them out!). Funny enough, the program manager at Techstars Barclays, Jess Williamson, is a family friend who grew up in the same town as I did (Sacramento) and even went to the same High School (Rio Americano)! Barclays accelerator was not in session but I met Jess there to start our Techstars inspired but mostly social visit. The Barclays Accelerator space was still being used to host a conference and there were business people all around. We popped around the corner for a delicious Indian food lunch and caught up on old times and what we’ve both been doing in the past 10 years. Jess had just got back from running around New York for a week and was getting ready to head of to Berlin the next day so naturally was spending her “day off” at Techstars catching up. It was great to see Jess and hear about all the amazing things happening with the Powered by Techstars Accelerator Programs.
The next day I was invited to the Techstars London office for an evening of pitches, founder stories and celebratory drinks at a local pub by their Program manager Tak Lo. This visit was at end of Week 2 of their program and having just experienced the Techstars Program in Boulder I felt right at home and enjoyed hearing the companies pitch and listening to questions after.
I heard 4 of the 10 companies in their Winter Class pitch and here is what I took away about what they do.
UBI– Universal Basket for E-Commerce sites, add items from different sites and pay for all your orders in one place.
Rainbird– Enables experts to make software with human like decision making abilities to capture expert insight and scale it!
Lystable– Supply/Vendor management platform to help bring the excel tracking to the 21st century.
Swarm– Collaborative investment platform that extends crowdfunding model to offer real return and “Crypto-Equity” via blockchain technology. It has been mentioned as a “Kickstarter on Steroids” due to it’s integration and ability for BitCoin payment.
Just listening to what they amazing companies are up to and have already accomplished is absolutely energizing and intoxicating. After each pitch other founders and visitors are encouraged to ask questions and then the presenter has an opportunity to put out an “Ask” to the group for something they could really use help on for the next week. This may be a connection to someone with skills in X, or in’s to company Y or check out our Alpha and be brutally honest. That’s what I love about this environment, everyone is in it together, everyone is intellectually honest and knows their product is not perfect but they strive to make it better each day.
After pitches we heard a founder story from Paul Joyce of GeckoBoard. GeckoBoard provides dashboards for businesses to access all your data in a quick and easy way. He spoke of his experience starting his career, leaving the corporate world, creating something he believed in, rallying others around that business/idea, figuring out how to price that product and finding the right people to help make it all happen.
Finally, the night ended with sliders and libations at a local pub. We drank delicious beer, talked with each other, ate sliders and even celebrated a birthday of TS London Managing Director Jon Bradford and had some of the best Red Velvet cake i’ve ever had!
Well that was a mouthful of a post so i’ll leave it here until next time but here are some pictures.