Startup financing ecosystem is changing with the rise of crowdfunding and more acceleration programs opening worldwide. The structure behind these programs is changing too, to keep up the pace. To better understand the ongoing changes we talk with Marc Wesselink, Selection & Alumni Manager at Startupbootcamp Smart City & Living.
Marc will be one of the panelists on the How to Web Conference’s both Angel Investment track with Mike Doherty (moderator), Lyuben Belov and Simon Jenner and Future Trends & Entrepreneurship track with Ivan Brezak Brkan (moderator), Marc Wesselink, Paul Smith, Marvin Liao.
After founding and having bootstrapped 12 companies and failed four times, he is definitely an experienced entrepreneur with an international focus. After interviewing hundreds of startups as Selection & Alumni Manager at Startupbootcamp, he became on of the co-founders at Startupbootcamp Africa.
How to Web: Since its inception, Startupbootcamp has witnessed many transformations in the tech world. What have been the most relevant of these changes for the program?
Marc Wesselink: We have changed our general programs into focused program. We now have e-commerce, smart city & living, mobile, iot & big data, smart transport & energy, High-Tech & fintech focused programs.
We see that we are able to deliver those startups much more value because we attract mentors with domain expertise which can add more value during the program. We also attract corporate partners within those focused areas (like Mercedes Benz, Cisco, Castroll, Lloyd Banks etc).
How does financing startups works now versus a few years ago?
In Amsterdam we have achieved a funding rate of almost 100% of all our startups…that was never heard of before.
We see that angels become the new VCs with syndicate investments and we see VCs shifting to later stage startups. We have also seen a few very successful crowdfunding campaigns of 150k-250K.
Based on experiences with cohorts of startups, has your model for evaluating them changed in any way? If it has, could you provide some specifics?
We have set up an alumni growth program where we try to keep in touch with our 180 alumni. It is difficult, but we keep informing them with relevant content, shared connections, yearly alumni summits and communication platform.
We have also set up a reporting platform for their shareholders. Startups should not forget that if you keep every one of them informed they will also be your ambassadors. If you don’t keep them informed they can become your enemies.
Startupbootcamp is the most spread out acceleration program in the world, with a presence in six countries. What is the reasoning behind that and what is your strategy of selecting startups?
We now have a good footprint within Europe and now it is time to connect those vertical programs with other continents. We are going to connect continents and share knowledge with them.
FinTech London will also start a FinTech in Singapore. Smart Transport & Energy in London, will also start one in San Francisco. The E-commerce vertical in Amsterdam will start one similar in Johannesburg and the Smart City & Living one will start in Cape Town a similar vertical too. In this way we can share common practices both ways because we can all learn from each other. Not while talking, but by doing.
Can you pinpoint the elements that have fostered the growth of the program, making it one of the top 3 largest in the world?
We start with the team who is leading the program. They are all led by people who suffered the same pain as a startup because the program directors are all self starters. In Amsterdam the 3 of us started 28 different companies in 9 different verticals.
We have sold companies, did IPO’s, had bankruptcies, failed miserably. We know how it feels and that makes it 100% different than many other accelerator programs which are led by bankers/consultants or public officers. No offense, but starting up from scratch is something else.
What are the criteria a city has to fulfill in order for Startupbootcamp to decide to open a program there? What are the geographical areas you’re focusing on now and will focus on in the near future?
We look for serial entrepreneurs who are able to fund a program for a minimum of 3 years and are well connected with corporates and startups. They need to be able to talk both languages. We believe in the connection of the 2 worlds because they can help each other tremendously.
Do you believe that acceleration programs can influence the interest in certain verticals for high resource investors?
Yes, we saw that already with our first vertical program last year, NFC & Contactless Interactions. All stakeholders (Telecom and banks) were involved with the program and it helped boosting the NFC ecosystem in the Netherlands.
Do Demo Days still work? What is your take on the matter?
Not if you look to them as an investment day. 60% of our startups are already funded during the program. It is a point at the horizon, a deadline to challenge you. Demo Day is a pure marketing instrument for PR and attracting interesting partners.
What role do angel investors play in the local tech communities? How do you, as a program, work with them?
We work closely with them and many are mentors of our program. They can start working with startups before they invest in them. Based on the relationship build during the program, they decide to invest in them…or not.
What kind of startups do you usually attract and what type of startups would you be interested to add to your future cohorts?
We see more later stage startups with product/market fit and traction. We can help them to accelerate and fine-tune their business model and marketing strategy.
The How to Web’s Angel Investment track is co-curated by Angelsbootcamp. Its Program Director, Mike Doherty, will moderate a panel talk with George Lemnaru and Malin Stefanescu, sharing his expertise gathered from working with angel investors from all over Europe. This track has been initiated and developed in partnership with VIBE (Venture Initiative in Balkan Europe), a regional eco-system accelerator supported by the European Commission. VIBE is one of the projects of the South-East Europe (SEE) Programme.