Last year we transformed our competition for startups into the fully-fledged 4 days program we now call Startup Spotlight. From 2010, when we organized Startup Challenge as a simple on-stage pitching competition for 8 startups, until today when we’re again going for the long 4-days run, it’s been a constant learning process for us.
We’ve had great results last year, and we’ve nailed many parts of the program. We managed to gather early-stage startups in the same room with investors interested in exactly that type of startups, and, as a result of this compatibility, investments happened. We managed to put the teams in contact with the right people to mentor them, and learning and great product-building followed.
“Double down on what works, improve on the rest” – this is our motto, so here’s what we learned and what we plan to do differently:
1. When the right people meet, great things happen -> we’re keeping the mentoring sessions and we’re bringing more accelerators, more investment funds, more business angels, more specialists.
2. Cash prizes help, press helps -> we’re keeping the same cash prizes (thank you IXIA) and we plan on bringing in as much press as we can.
3. Workshops are super interesting for some finalists, not so much for others -> we’re keeping the workshops, but we’re making attendance optional and opening remaining slots for startups that don’t qualify as the best 32. It’s our goal to help as many startups as we can!
4. Event program gets very busy and often big delays happen -> that’s why we’re changing schedule and allocating more time for feedback & follow-up questions for the jury.
5. Accelerator presentations don’t get the public we hoped they would (it may have been also because of the super busy schedule, but anyway, trying something else) -> we’re bringing accelerator reps & investors in panels to discuss different topics related to building startups, financing startups, accelerator experience.
6. Some startups are taken off guard by the event development & rules -> we’re making the website as clear as possible (did you scroll down through all the Competition section?), we’re highlighting our contact email address with HUGE fonts on all the website pages, doing Hangout Q&A session, and improving direct communication with the teams.
7. Last day (1 to 1 meetings with investors who’ve shown interest) felt a bit redundant, as people usually got to meet each other before -> changing day 4 of the program into a big Open Hours session. We list the people who are available, startups get to choose who they want to see. We chose to edicate this to private talks on specific subjects, as opposed to mentoring sessions where it’s 1 startup to many mentors. Also, mentoring sessions = we choose who meets who, Open Hours = startups choose who to meet.
So there you have it, this is how we learn and improve. If you’re a startup working on your application, watch the Q&A session we did yesterday, you may find useful explanations. And if there’s anything else you want to ask, please do. We’re not afraid of emails & we like the Reply button. Help us … help yourself! 😉