This page has been created to tell you about our first experience in an accelerator (FABulous), the conclusions drawn and the lessons learned.
I am Bogdan, the CEO of Bluemind Software. We have been selected into Service Maturity Level 1 of the FABulous accelerator in August 2015, one year ago. We have confirmed and been selected into SML2 as well (January 2016). That’s the final SML for our call (Open Call 2).
I am writing this article while I am attending the last workshop of our Fabulous meeting and bootcamp in Ghent, Belgium.
Two days ago, I presented/pitched our service (GOCREATE), business model and plan, business trials and commercialization plan in front of a panel formed from 10 reviewers. This pitch is decisive for the last payment that we have to receive and – even more important – our relationship with FABulous and the people behind it. I do not worry about the results, because I had the chance to learn how to do all that properly during the last 12 months, together with a great team(!).
When I discovered FABulous in Budapest (in an event organized by the local mobility cluster and eDigiregion) it just felt right. It attracted my attention easily with these three facts:
- Except a few mandatory travels, it was not necessary to relocate and we could work from where we were already based.
- FABulous did not request any equity (no percent of our company).
- FABulous promised a lump sum of 18.000 Euros for SML1 (prototype creation, initial business model and industrial trials plan).
You may not care about relocation when you don’t have a family with small kids, but it matters a lot when you do have. As a father of a 2 year old, living far from grandparents, this was the most important advantage for me and could have convinced me all by itself.
FABulous (and the European Commission who funds it – that’s why there is no equity requirement) is one of the few accelerators which realize that entrepreneurs who have already gathered enough experience to have a good chance at growing a business are probably at an age where they also have a family. A good part of the startups in FABulous are being lead by people who are also parents ?
Another important differentiator of FABulous was that they had this “SML2”. Those who created it obviously noted the gap that exists in Europe between seed funding and VC funding. It is one of the few accelerators which (co)finance a business’s road to the market (after developing the prototype)! And I can tell you that in SML2 we acquired the most important pieces of the business development puzzle (the actual business development process). An SML3 would have been all we needed to get in the market and get profitable(!)
I will add more details in future posts but I really want you to know the benefits that we gained in this acceleration program.
For this, I paste and update an e-mail sent to FABulous after our participations at FABCon.3D 2016 (FABulous booth) and Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016, plus smaller events like the Unternehmertum’s 3DP cluster meeting near Munchen, Museum Rocket in Bucharest etc.
“The participations in these events helped us gradually and greatly improve the following:
- our understanding of the real 3DP market, the players involved and their needs;
- our relationships with important players (important for us) in the market and possible strategic partners (please see slide no.7 in the attached presentation for details on the companies who are open to this).
- our relationships with FABulous and the FABulous startups (many new ones + the best ones are with SYP , Desamanera and Distribut3D);
- our pitch to possible strategic partners;
- our general pitch (thanks go to All mentors who helped us communicate better and Willem from SYP for the latest improvements) – I’m sure you’ll see the change and hope you’ll love it in September. The slides attached are actually those used in the pitch (when I have time to use them).
- our product;
- the positioning of our product in various value chains (as high as it gets).
- the inclination and actions of the EC towards growing entrepreneurs.
At Distribut3D I create the software architecture and manage the FIWARE technology and the production process – we implemented 8 different GEs in GOCREATE.
For me personally, the participation in FABulous greatly improved or even created new skills regarding business development, marketing and sales strategies etc. I am a different person with a much better understanding and know-how about how to create a successful business. And I get to keep and use these skills in our project and in all future projects. Thank you!”
Meanwhile, I realized that what happened, besides learning how to develop a good business plan, is that we simply learned to communicate much better. Even online (see the clear structure of GOCREATE’s website which was made in only 8 hours after attending the marketing and branding webinar). Even in sales (15 companies opened up to try the application and help us bring it to the market fast in just 2 hours).
The next steps for GOCREATE is the creation of clear use cases with our 4 industrial partners and the conversion to strategic joint-marketing partners of the above mentioned companies.
I truly believe that we would not be in this position already, have we not had the FABulous adventure. I started my entrepreneur life from the diagonal opposite: academic life (PhD, post-doc etc.). I find it absolutely amazing to see how much I had to learn in the last year in order to properly develop a business and I don’t even want to imagine how many years more it would have taken me without FABulous. Not to mention the new friends and partners gained in other companies accelerated by FABulous.
Please note that during SML2, GOCREATE was also selected in the RICAP program (business development and internationalization Romanian-American Mentoring program). I loved it too! Great mentoring! the personal mentoring with Alan Creutz and Sorin Axinte was extremely helpful! As was the time spent with Nicu, Patrick, Willem, and Robert Koning (great guy from FABulous!). These guys helped me the most in building the business. Roderick’s webinar on Marketing and Branding motivated me a lot along with other quality webinars.
To be continued…