Startupbootcamp – the world’s leader in nurturing young businesses launches London Accelerator for SMEs with high growth potential in FinTech. It will focus on developing their business model, finding customers and scaling the business. Its large cadre of mentors, some of whom are expected to get more closely involved than others, are first meeting together and being briefed, and their work will be co-ordinated and subject to review.
Started in Copenhagen in 2009, Startupbootcamp [‘Sbc’] now has a presence in a dozen cities worldwide* – where it offers Accelerator programmes – mainly in Europe, but also in the Middle East, and it is about to open in San Francisco – wherever the spirit of entrepreneurialism is alight.
Its work is currently distinguished by:
• its concentration on viable concerns (SMEs)
• its focus on distinct business segments
• the purposeful way in which it manages its mentoring and support
• its success and ambition.
Moreover it is not a corporate business, but more a collection of collaborations, run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
Sbc relies for finding its customers on a network of partners – as scouts in all of the major cities in which it operates. Candidates for its FinTech Accelerator in London, just launching, indeed for all of its Accelerators, must already have a team, an established proposition, a minimum viable business, and must be adequately funded (so as to handle the cost of their visit to London). And the 12-week Accelerator programme aims to help its participants to develop the business model, to find customers and to scale the business.
Teams participating in the Accelerator each receive €15k towards their expenses, and pay 8% of equity. As to success, Sbc boasts a very high rate of refinancing – at 70% of its participants (with one recent programme achieving 100%).
As with other Accelerators, a small team of programme directors will play the everyday role of supervisory facilitation, keeping in intimate touch with the businesses in the Accelerator. There is a large cohort of voluntary mentors, some 20% of whom are likely to get closely involved, and otheres are available to team members for specific help. And Sbc has taken pains to ensure that the mentors know one another and that they understand their roles – running a Mentor Fest, a full Mentor Day and regular Monday meetings for mentors. And Sbc will run some form of assessment of mentors’ contributions. Most days there are events of various kinds – meetings for CEOs or CTOs, discussions of topical issues, including team-building, and meetings with industry experts.
Participating banks, who have made significant financial commitment for three years include Lloyds (which has also committed full-time chaperones, for which it is running an internal competition), Rabobank, Mastercard and SBT Venture Capital; and has recently anounced three more partners.
As Accelerators become more thematic, Sbc’s will address specific aspects of FinTech, such as Capital Markets, Investment banking, Retail banking, Security, Mobile payments etc. A future Accelerator in London will focus on the Internet of Things; another in Rome and a third in Berlin will focus on issues of close relevance to those cities. Sbc is also thinking about the possibility of running pre-accelerator programmes.
In 2007, four partners set out to create a start-up machine in Copenhagen, out of whose early cohorts Sbc was one survivor – its Accelerator a tool for startups – which has since 2009 run Accelerator programmes worldwide.
The ‘Rainmaking Loft’ by Tower Bridge in London (which will be the base for Sbc’s Fintech programme) opened its doors in August 2013 – Sbc’s first initiative into co-working spaces, to be followed shortly by similar such spaces in Berlin and Dubai. It has 150 places for 45 businesses and is already full. Consisting mostly of close packed ranks of desk-spaces, and with some small offices and some meeting rooms, it has an atmosphere of bustle and intensity, quite unmatched to the tranquillity and calm of St Katherine’s dock which it overlooks.
* Including Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Israel, Eindhoven, Turkey, Singapore, Dublin, London and shortly Egypt.