28 tech startups have been accelerated in the first two batches of MVP Academy, our accelerator, and we are incredibly proud of their evolution after graduating the program. We’ve already presented you their key results in the MVP Academy follow-up report: it’s now time to take a closer look at what they have been doing lately and how did they progress over the past year(s).
With more than 1 million USD in seed investments and 13 products launched on the global market, we can be nothing but incredibly proud of the evolution of our alumni. In case you are wondering what makes the difference between the best and the rest, oh well, it is their commitment, their teams, as well as the hard work they put into their products, before, during and after the program.
Accelerole is an app that allows multinational companies from several industries to engage privately with their key stakeholders. Accelerole has been part of MVP Academy batch of 2015 and it’s there where they better analyzed and refined their product (check out here their startup profile). The process continued for months after graduating the accelerator and, by the end of 2015, they had a fully developed product with 3 large deals signed that will bring in 80k+ EUR in revenue this year.
With constant updates and new features added every month, Accelerole now has 4000+ active users and is about to reach 12.000 by delivering on the first 3 deals signed. The team is currently working to bring in more clients and, in the same time, they focus on creating a stronger brand for their product and getting international exposure. This is why they will be present at the ATD International Conference in Denver in the month of May and they plan to join the Global Conference of Talent Development for getting further product feedback and generating new business. Meanwhile, they are also considering to join another accelerator program to help them speed up their development.
“We have in Romania this program providing comparable value with YCombinator and Techstars and so few people know about it. The 2 months spent in MVP Academy were a productive roller coaster. Things that took 3 months before, now take us 3 hours. Add this to the fact that the program gave us access to private meetings with the most relevant business people in Romania as mentors or possible clients.”, said Adrian Fako, Co-Founder & CEO of Accelerole.
Axosuits, startup that builds high-powered, affordable exoskeletons to help paraplegics walk again, has the potential to change the lives of 10+ million people. They know that an idea is only worth what you make out of it, so they have been constantly working to improve their product and tackle the numerous challenges med-tech comes along with. After graduating MVP Academy 2014, Axosuits secured two financing rounds and won several awards such as the Best Startup Award at How to Web Startup Spotlight, or the Get in the Ring Romania final (check out here their startup profile we wrote last year).
Their product is currently undergoing clinical trials, and the Co-Founders have hired one more person to complete their team. Besides, Axosuits is in on-going negotiations with potential business customers in the med-tech area, and they plan to build future models to address the needs of specific industries.
“MVP Academy brought “fame and fortune” for Axosuits. We closed the first seed round after graduating and several doors were opened. The program helped us make lots of steps further, while the mentoring sessions determined us to look at our project from a different perspective and think out of the box.”, said Andras Kapy, Co-Founder & CEO, Axosuits.
CloudHero is a PaaS that automates the management and scaling of an application across any public cloud. The product helps technical teams save time and money by running dev, qa or staging environments on any infrastructure, in minutes, using Docker containers. CloudHero was part of MVP Academy batch of 2015, where they learnt the importance of giving your customers what they want, not what you think they want (check out CloudHero’s startup profile here).
Over the past months, Andrei Manea, Co- Founder & CEO of CloudHero, together with his Co-Founders Ruxandra Burtica and Bogdan Radulescu, pivoted three times, found product-market fit and onboarded his first paying customers (immediately after the last pivot). CloudHero now has 3 major paying customers and is in advanced discussions with one of the Big Four companies for an on-premise implementation. For the months to come, they plan to focus on the enterprise market and start raising money to accelerate their growth.
“I have been doing business for more than 7 years and one month of MVP Academy was a life changer for me”, Andrei Manea said.
CyberFog is a proactive cybersecurity technology that helps companies defend against cyber attacks. CyberFog currently offers protection through real time malware analysis, real time detection of advanced persistent threats and previously unknown attacks, as well as deflection of DDoS attacks. They have advanced from having an MVP to a finished product, now at its third updated version, and they plan to develop and manufacture their own Printed Circuit Board (PCB) soon.
After graduating MVP Academy back in 2015 (check out their startup profile written back then), CyberFog had a spectacular evolution: they raised a seed round from a Polish VC, opened an office in Poland, and grew their team from 3 people to 12. Besides, they have established strategic partnerships with several suppliers in the hardware industry and are focusing right now on increasing sales in Western Europe and the US, while also considering potential strategic Romanian clients and partnerships. They are on the lookout for the next investment round and plan to also open an office in the UK in the near future.
“We can easily summarize our entire MVP Academy experience in one word: learning. And I would actually need to add another one to offer a complete image: hard! We’ve been learning the hard way and we particularly liked the fact that we’ve met a lot of interesting people with interesting ideas. Every tech startup should really take a closer look at this program”, said Mihai Raneti, Co-Founder & CEO of CyberFog.
Gloria Food, online ordering system for restaurants, was part of the first batch of MVP Academy back in 2014 (check out the interview here for more information on how they started). In January 2015 they launched their first paid subscription service (the online payments plan), kept adding new features and just released their promotion module making their solution unique in the industry landscape.
With 1000 active restaurants (60% in the US, 20% in the UK, 10% in Australia & New Zealand and the other 10% from Romania and other countries), 25+ supported languages and tens of thousands of orders processed on a monthly basis, Gloria Food has grown into a profitable company. It ranks no. 1 in Google worldwide for “online ordering” searches and they plan to focus on growing their restaurants base in the months to come, while diversifying their service offering help restaurants sell better and faster (they are currently working on two different versions of their product: http://restaurant-menu.net and http://restaurants-supply.com).
“MVP Academy was inspiring. It helped us understand what other IT people are working on, how do they do it, how we do it comparing with them and where do we actually fit in the startups landscape of our decade”, Mihai Anghel, Co-Founder of Gloria Food, said.
Startup that helps web and mobile developers out there to optimize their user acquisition process by better understanding user behavior, InnerTrends was part of the MVP Academy batch of 2015. They entered the program with a working technology and a good understanding of the problem and nailed down the product later on, after discussing with potential clients and receiving on-going support and mentoring from the MVP Academy team (check out their story here).
After finishing the program, they kept working on the product, iterating fast and learning quickly. They had tens of user testing sessions and continuously explored how to better serve the needs of their customers. InnerTrends now has more than 10 companies using InnerTrends to optimize user onboarding and their servers are processing more than 2 million events on a daily basis. They expanded their team, raised a seed round from MVP Angels, business angels network associated with the accelerator, and are now planning to gradually open their product to more and more users and launch a commercial version in the next 2 months.
“MVP Academy set us on a very productive path. We defined our product, secured a seed investment, expanded our team and got a lot of work done. We entered the program with a technology and, by the end of it, we had a product, paying customers, and a one-year growth planned. We changed pretty much everything, twice, but we ended up with a clear direction and that makes every second invested in MVP Academy well worth it”, said Claudiu.
Lifebox started as a photo app and evolved into a startup with global potential that provides users the easiest way to share and collect photos from friends, with no app downloads and sign-ups required. Soon after graduating from MVP Academy 2014 (check out their story here), they were invited to join two accelerator programs: Oxygen in London and Ignite in Newcastle. They chose the latter and, looking back now, this seems to be the right decision for their product.
Later on, they raised a 200k EUR seed round, expanded their team and launched the second version of Lifebox. Since the product is built in virality (meaning that users share it every time they use it), they are continually growing with no marketing efforts, and they now have 40k users on the web version. With an iOS app recently released and an Android one on its way, their main focus for the months to come is to grow their user base and test different scenarios of revenue streams that they can use.
“We quit our jobs to join MVP Academy and it was well worth it! It was a really intense experience: the mentoring sessions were our favorite part and it felt like we had 300 meetings. Before joining the program we had some idea about the product, but no idea at all about how to build a business”, said Radu Oprea, Co-Founder of Lifebox.
Started as a calendar of festivals and events around the world, Qalendra pivoted to take advantage of a larger market opportunity: today they develop travel technologies to help everyone instantly find where the best conditions for their favorite sports are, anywhere in the world, at a given time (check out their startup profile here for more information). After graduating MVP Academy back in 2014, Qalendra joined the 9Mile Labs B2B accelerator in Seattle Washington.
The 5 months in the US where well spent: they built their product, pitched angels & VCs, worked on their go-to-market strategies, interviewed their first clients and met their current advisors (executives from Expedia, T-Mobile, Cisco, Amazon or Altus Alliance). After returning to Romania, they focused on development and launched their product last November on stage of the most exclusive event of the travel industry, the PhocusWright Travel Innovation Summit in Miami. (If interested, you can check out their 6 min pitch here, or read more about them in TechCrunch). 60 industry leaders, from top-tier airlines and hotel chains to online travel agencies, aggregators and insurance companies, asked for demos after their launch. Qalendra needed to grow at a pace that would allow them to meet the overwhelming demand, so they sped up their fundraising efforts and they are going to close a seed round by the beginning of April.
“MVP Academy delivered on its promise: it helped us define our vision and prepared us for the next step (joining the 9Mile Labs B2B accelerator). By attending the program we saved several months of a painful trial-and-error process. We met extraordinary people that gave us feedback and helped us with our product, marketing, development, testing, and so on”, said Cristian Munteanu, Founder & CEO of Qalendra.
SafeDrive is a mobile app that encourages responsible driving by rewarding drivers that do not use their phones at the wheel. Part of MVP Academy batch of 2015, SafeDrive won the Gold Edison Award in the Lifestyle and Social Impact category last spring and had a promising evolution ever after (check out here how it all started).
After graduating the accelerator, SafeDrive signed its first major client (the largest insurance company in The Netherlands) and started to monetize the app using a B2B business model. User testing proved that their app significantly decreases the phone usage behind the wheel (and hence improves traffic safety), and they are now focused on growing their sales team and exploring different options to raise money.
“MVP Academy was an excellent time investment that helped us identify the key areas of focus in improving our product, and also maximize our pitching capabilities to express the most valuable aspects of our product and startup. This is primordial when you always face a distributed attention of your audience”, said Tudor Cobalas, Co-Founder & CEO of SafeDrive.
Part of MVP Academy Class of 2015, Unloq aims to make security as it should be: simple and free. They developed a technology that renders passwords obsolete by replacing them with smartphones: once a user has a validated profile in their mobile app, any authentication request is routed to their phone (check out the Unloq startup profile here to see how it all started). They launched the initial version of their product in August 2015, on-boarded their first users and came to understand that companies are reluctant to use a different brand. As a result, they started working on a new version (due in about 2 weeks) that will allow users to create their custom mobile security apps. In this process, they also created some other technologies that have the potential to work independently and they plan to launch them as standalone solutions.
With 2 weeks setting them apart from the launch of the new version of their product, they are negotiating with two potential distribution partners for the US and South America and have a couple of clients that already expressed their interest. In the months to come, they plan to close the distribution partnerships, onboard their first customers to test the new solution, as well as grow their customer base to 20 by the end of the year.
“I came to MVP Academy thinking I know (almost) everything about my product. And then I started working with Bogdan and George that proved me wrong. They were right and I have to thank them for opening my eyes”, said Mircea Patachi, Co-Founder & CEO of Unloq.
You can be the next success story!
All the tech startups featured in this article have one thing in common: the fact that they were accelerated in MVP Academy. And the good news is that you can be the next one: we are actively looking for the best & brightest tech startups out there to join our 2016 batch. Ready to speed up your development in a 2 months deal-focused program customized to fit your needs? Find out more here and submit your application by March 31st!