by Vadim Slavin
Welcome back, readers, to the StartupMonthly Blog. It's a new year, new beginning, new resolutions to keep and to procrastinate on. One such resolution of mine is to keep this blog current. There is so much to share with our community, so many lessons learned, so many ideas for how to help our growing ecosystem.
Here is what to expect in this Blog in 2013. I will be sharing the ecosystem news from around the world where StartupMonthly is active. Currently it is Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Israel, USA, UK and the list is growing. Secondly, I will be sharing our lessons learned on running our accelerator. I will report back on what we, at StartupMonthly, are learning from our own mentors and advisers. And lastly, I will be giving away insights on how to get your next idea funded. Phew. Let's hope someone will be reading this.
"A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension."- Oliver Wendell Holmes
Let's get our minds stretched in 2013, let's get pumped to achieve what we set out to achieve, and let's be accountable for our own actions towards our own dreams - it's the only way to go. Happy New Year and see you all soon!
Smart$Money is a unique program which informes, educates and prepares foreign business angels and VCs for their future investments in IT startups. Smart$Money enables them to exchange knowledge and experience as well as share, inspire and connect with each other.
Program moderator Pemo Theodore and Startup Monthly team made it a reality.
40+ participants, keynotes, and panelists (among them Steve Blank, Robert Scoble, Buddy L. Arnheim, Christine Herron, Jeff Pulver, Bill Reichert, Greg Kidd, Brant Cooper and more key players in Venture Capital ecosystem) learned about foreign and domestic angel and VC investments, deal-structure, market trends, and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The participants got connected to leading investors in Silicon Valley, visited successful startups, and got acquainted with various accelerator programs. During the 4-day program, participants visited Facebook, Microsoft, Stanford University and other Silicon Valley companies' offices. Agenda also included keynotes, roundtable discussions, networking events and pitch sessions (5 companies from Startup Monthly Accelerator presented their products to investors).
Each day had special keynotes, themes, mentors and speakers: Ecosystem Day, Angels Day, VCs Day, Investment Day.
Press about Smart$Money
Follow Smart$Money: FB, Twitter, Google+
On November 13 Palo Alto's Patio saw one of the biggest Happy Hour event organized by StartupMonthly!
More than 250 ambitious entrepreneurs, investors and startups got together to mingle, pitch and discuss future business opportunities on a Tuesday (!!!) night.
BIG special thanks goes to our sponsor Roger Royse.
Download a free copy of his book "Dead on Arrival: How to Avoid the Legal Mistakes That Could Kill Your Startup"
Another big thank you goes out to Softlayer for co-sponsoring this event which enabled StartupMonthly to provide free beer and appetizers to attendees.
And finally, a big thank you to all attendees for coming: we will see you soon at the next Startup Social Party, December 7 in San Francisco! More info here!
Sunday evening the StartupMonthly team invited friends, mentors and investors for a housewarming party to welcome our new guests in their new home - the StartupMansion House. The guests are the startups who have recently arrived to take part in the StartupMonthly's second startup accelerator.
Family style table was full of international dished: Russian "blinchiki", "manty", salads and appetizers and of course Polish "Zubrowka"!
The "BIG START" celebration brought everyone together with a great reason to talk informally, make new friends and get know new roommates closely.
Four out of five startups participating in the accelerator will live in the same house for 4 month during the program and share the working space, located close to the Mansion.
Throughout the evening the atmosphere remained very warm and filled with jokes, stories, and toasts for good luck and a great start!
Accelerator Program 2012 is rapidly gaining speed, 5 teams from Russia, Greece, Lithuania and Silicon Valley are working side by side with mentors, investors and angels improving their products.
Every other week we will be introducing you to one of the Startups!
Weendy is a web and mobile application for surfers, snowboarders and extreme sports fans, enabling them to share action video and photo updates, meet with people, explore places and find the best conditions before they go out.
Co-founders Katerina Stroponiati and Yiannis Varelas will tell you about Weendy.
All sport enthusiasts face the following problem: lack of real time updates from the spots they care about as well as failing forecasts. These challenges makes these enthusiasts drive for hours to the beach/mountain, but most of the times actual conditions are far away from those expected. These guys are struggling to find a way to connect with the people who are already at the spot in order to get an accurate update of the conditions, so they can save their time and their money. To overcome this problem, some created Facebook groups, but they ended up as advertising lists. Lack of filtering based on users' profiles makes the groups noisy and (due to their local character) it's hard to discover new places or connect with people in different locations. Also, industry fragmentation and the lack of a common communication platform provides a unique opportunity for businesses to find, communicate and engage with new or existing customers through weendy.
How they started
Both of the founders are addicted windsurfers, kiteboarders, surfers and everything related with watersports, so they know first hand how it feels to spend all your weekend driving around to find the appropriate conditions and get in the water. And it's common to be wasting your time and money, either because forecasts were wrong or because you didn't have the right information. So, they decided to do something about this in order to help their community members not wasting their time. They built a simple app that allowed you to shoot a 10 second video of the conditions, and share them with your friends. In just two months, the app dominated the Greek market, and expanded to more than 15 countries.
Why they got selected
They believed that what they had was a kick-ass product. They are part of the extreme sports community, great niche of the crazy people/surfers, so they deeply understand how this market works. The product has been validated from their market, has remarkable traction and the business model is straightforward.
Good luck, Katerina and Yiannis!
StartupMonthly is exited to open its first official house (we call it a Mansion) to host the new accelerator participants arriving on November 1st. These entrepreneurs will becomes part of the 2nd cohort of startups accelerated by StartupMonthly.
This 6 bedroom house with a beautiful backyard, a garden, a fireplace and a spacious living room in sunny Menlo Park/Atherton area can't wait to welcome its guests. Young entrepreneurs from Russia and Lithuania will be living here for 4 months developing their products and working towards scaling their businesses.
The accelerator program is geared towards startup companies solving challenging problems in web, mobile, smart TV, or cloud domains. The accelerator combines seed investment, hands-on learning, and one-on-one mentorship from serial entrepreneurs, investors, and seasoned hackers. StartupMonthly also provides the orientation, acclimatization, and access to Silicon Valley and the thriving StartupMonthly ecosystem.
StartupMonthly team did their best to provide minimalistic but comfortable environment for the guest and to make them feel welcome. The house is light and spacious: cozy living room with a fireplace is a great place to rest after long productive days and to get together with other entrepreneurs to share successes, disappointments and valuable contacts. Each bedroom has 2 beds, clean soft carpets, big windows and private bathrooms. The house is equipped with fast wi-fi, a large modern kitchen and dining room room areas, a BBQ area in the backyard and of course the California sun! All these are great conditions for entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses.
It's important to separate working and living space to find the right balance between work and fun, effort and rest. This is why StartupMonthly decided to locate the Mansion office within walking distance of the shared working space where the this accelerator cohort will work side by side with local entrepreneurs and their startups.
Additional master bedroom space is available for select few visiting startups who would like comfortable inexpensive accommodations and an introduction to the StartupMonthly ecosystem. Please send an email to email@example.com to learn how to take advantage of this opportunity. You can see the pics of the accommodations here.
To stay on top of all the StartupMonthly ecosystem news sign up for our newsletter for FREE and stay tuned/updated!
Russian Innovation Week Conference brought together leading startup entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and successful business leaders from the U.S. and Russia to mingle, connect, learn and discover opportunities for partnerships.
Russian Innovation Week mission was to showcase the Russian Innovation and initiatives to foster innovation in Russia in order to create new partnerships with key players in Silicon Valley ecosystem.
Yuri Rabinovich and Vadim Slavin (StartupMonthly Founders) met with the main guests, Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano, Igor Agamirzian, RVC and Dmitry Akhanov, Rusnano USA and started discussing potential cooperation with SKOLKOVO, RVC and Rusnano.
StartupMonthly moderated the pitch session with 30 companies from Russia:
Clean Tech & Energy:
Optogan, Infra Technologies, ASLM/Empire Magnetics, Profotech, Advenira Enterprises Inc, Eos Energy Storage, LED Microsensor NT, ItN.
BBU Pharmaceuticals LLC, NPTpharma LLC, BiOptix Diagnostics, Panacela Inc, Bazelevs, Incuron, Sentiens LLC, CardioWave.
Balakam, iBuiidApp, Cyscom Ltd, Kuznech, 3DBIN, Penxy, Kernel Corp LLC, Auriga, ISS Art Ltd, Magru, AstroSoft, i-Free Innovations, Novosti MediaLab.
Russian Innovation Week organizers: RUSNANO, RVC, Skolkovo Foundation.
RUSNANO is a $10 billion state-backed fund based in Russia. It was founded in 2007 with an investment focus on late-stage venture capital and private equity deals in nanotechnologies. RUSNANO invests in clean energy and energy efficiency, the life sciences, medical devices, the semiconductor space and advanced materials.
RVC is a government fund of funds that channels public incentives to venture capitalists and support to the hi-tech sector. RVC was founded by the Russian government in 2006 to ensure faster development of an efficient and globally competitive innovation system and venture capital industry in Russia.
The Skolkovo Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the transformation of Russia into an innovation-based economy through strategic partnerships with leading scientists and innovators around the world.
by Amy Kwan
One of the members of our Board of Advisors, Steve Blank, wrote a great post on innovation and social media. He explains why VCs are so fascinated with social media startups and the realities of why they funding social media startups. The reality is that payout is huge -- and it comes fast. Investing in a social media startup may mean more money in a shorter amount of time.
But, what’s next? Much of the disruptive startups in the recent past are not in social media. Instead, they're in materials, or medical devices, or cyber. Since Silicon Valley goes through different waves of innovation, what do you think will be the next wave of innovation? Will it be in medical devices? Energy? Robotics? What are your thoughts?
by Sarah Khogyani
If you are an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, building your product is only half the battle. Networking is equally, if not more, essential to the success of your business. Whether you are looking for a co-founder, developer, partner, investor, or mentor, you can find what you need in the Valley. The best part is, everyone looking to network will convene in one place for similar goals.
It’s important to know the ins and outs of networking events and how to most efficiently ‘schmooze’. We’ll guide you through the preparations, the main event, and follow up procedures.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Before you commit to anything, make sure you know what your goals are. Do you want to expand your network or inform your network? Are you looking for a job, a co-founder, investment or simply just advice? Establishing your objectives will be the best way to streamline your efforts and help you land a second date.
Startup Monthly Team includes Software Architects, UX Designers, Legal, Financial, Lean Startup experts, Serial Entrepreneurs and Industry experts