Recent interviews with startups in Silicon Roundabout have focused increasingly on funding and mentoring. We thought we would start the week with a guest blog by Rob Moffat of Balderton Capital who is involved with portfolio companies such as Housetrip, Wooga and Archify.
Reflections on Incubators and Accelerators in Europe – a VC’s View
Recently I attended at Seedcamp in Berlin, along with 20 presenting companies and 100 or so mentors. I was amazed to see how the event had grown over the last two years in Berlin. In 2010 it was a relatively low-key gathering in a few dusty lecture halls at a university. This year we were hosted by BDMI in the former Crown Prince’s palace, with a gig by one of BMG’s latest signings.
The start-ups have also matured – almost all of those presenting this year already had months of hard work under their belts, previous start-up experience, products out in the market, slick presentations and even some revenues. Compare this to the early days of Seedcamp (in which Balderton was an initial investor) and would-be entrepreneurs would still be working out which market to address.
As Seedcamp has begun to attract later stage companies, other incubators have sprung up in Europe to fit the needs of entrepreneurs still at a formative stage. At the last count there were over 30 in Europe and the number is always growing.
If you’re debating whether to join one of the programmes, here are a couple of reasons why I believe it will be worth your while: 1) Execution speed: other entrepreneurs & mentors will push you to work smarter & harder 2) Coaching: you’ll benefit from mentors with deep functional experience 3) Network: you’ll build a network of other entrepreneurs at a similar stage of company development 4) Exposure: you get a good level of exposure to VCs and angel investors and 5) Direct funding: although sums are relatively small, you’re normally given some direct funding from the incubator.
If you’re mentally signed-up and ready to go, but are still deliberating between the different programmes, you can read a great Slideshare summary here. From my personal perspective:
- Seedcamp: This is the best programme in Europe in terms of exposure & network. It’s also great for coaching if you’re proactive on follow up with relevant mentors.
- Startupbootcamp: This is the Techstars affiliate in Europe. It’s good for execution speed, coaching, decent & improving exposure/network.
- Springboard: A relative newcomer to the incubator scene but the CEO Jon Bradford is doing great things. There is an emphasis on coaching/network so if you’re still working out your business then this might be a sensible choice.
- Hackfwd: This has some of the most impressive coaches in Europe, plus a strong focus on execution.
- Rocket Internet: Evidently this is not a traditional incubator per se, but if you want to learn execution speed there is no better place in Europe.
- Y-Combinator / Techstars: This is fantastic on all counts, but apparently it’s harder to get into than Harvard or Yale and you’ll need to move to US.
About the author: Rob Moffat (@robmoff) is a Principal at Balderton Capital. Prior to Balderton Rob worked for Google in London, as a Manager in their global sales strategy team. Rob’s experience at Google included developing growth strategies for a number of Google’s new businesses – reviewing potential acquisition targets as well as organic growth options. Before Google Rob spent five years at the management consultancy Bain & Company, and holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD, plus an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge.
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