The entrepreneur comes first as a competition to find the next top start-up begins
With the auditions for this year’s X Factor now underway, the search is also on to find a start-up business with enough potential to scoop a generous cash prize. Start-up and entrepreneur portal f3fundit have organised the event to give those entering their business the opportunity to turn €120 into a €25,000 prize.
Applicants are expected to apply by May 21 and following a selection process, the top-ten companies will gather in Barcelona, Spain, on June 16th and 17th.
In a variation to the popular ‘speed dating’ method of matching business angels with promising entrepreneurs, the entrants will work closely with a team of 25 experts who will both mentor them and decide which one will be crowned the next top start-up and walk away with the no-strings attached cash prize.
Jacek Grebski a founder member of the team of three at f3fundit came up with the idea after finding traditional events for start-ups frustrating for both the investor and the entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur himself Jacek experienced the frustrations felt by the entrepreneur after attending funding competitions himself in the past.
He regards such competitions as a turn-off for both the investor and the entrepreneur. Describing his experiences, he said; “after participating in a number of these types of competitions ourselves we saw a few underlying problems – these were, that most of these pitch events were akin to a meat grinder, ten companies, one hour.
Or you would attend a bootcamp styled event for start-ups and sit there listening to what seemed like a near endless series of unvaried speakers, worst of all was, you would leave without really taking anything away that pertained to your business.
We believe that both of these aforementioned models are inefficient. If you have five minutes to pitch to a group of investors, you are clearly nervous, more so if you’re not accustomed to it. Additionally, I see this all the time, an engineer will pitch what is undeniably a good idea, but will spend the entire time talking about the process, or a scientist will describe the chemical compound of a new drug. This not only wastes the entrepreneur’s time – but also the investor’s.
With next top start-up we’re focusing on getting great ideas through the door, and ensuring that by the time they leave they’ll be ready to get on that podium, with a fully sound business model, and impress the socks off the investors.
At the same time, those mentors who participate may have a vested interest in these companies as well, and from the point of view of a business angel, what better way to get a sense of a company than to spend a few hours with the start-up’s founders and directors and see how they work, how they problem solve, and additionally to gauge if there is a personality mix in there as well.
The competition is aimed at new companies in the so-called “valley of death” – the time post-incorporation when a company is burning cash – who are seeking financing of up to €300k. Ideal entrants should be innovative, scalable, internationally focused and concentrated on attractive market segments.
They can come from any sector and should have the ambition to work with venture capital investors. “We are on the start-up’s side”, added Jacek, “When we designed this competition, we looked at it from the position of a new company that has a big future but right now is short on cash and resources. How can we make a competition work for them? So all we require of the entrants is a very reasonable €120 and their participation. We do not take an equity stake and we will make sure that every company receives feedback.”
Entrants initially pass through a multi-metric evaluation process. This is then reviewed by the event selection committee who will make the final decision on the top ten. The chosen will then gather in Barcelona where they will spend two days behind closed doors having their business models intensely examined by a host of experienced mentors along with select investors. Every aspect of their performance over the two days will be taken into consideration when determining who will be the next top start-up.
f3fundit is an online community that enables entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and information and links them to potential sources of funding. The event is organised with the support of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and ESADE Creapolis, a business incubator and innovation park, as well as in collaboration with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and international business networks such as Maroon Analytics, an international advisory firm offering strategy, finance and incubation services