TechPeaks: investing in European talents
The following text is a report by the TechPeaks team.
Hidden in the Italian mountains, Trento welcomed the first Demo Day of the TechPeaks accelerator programme this past Monday, 2 December.
TechPeaks is a People Accelerator investing in individuals and teams with skills, talent and the passion to build successful global businesses in information technology. Over 600 people from 50 nationalities applied to theacceleration programme in spring 2013. The team selected 63 entrepreneurs from 19 countries to spend six months in Trento, and create or grow their startup.
Later, in June-July, TechPeaks participants formed teams and pitched their business ideas to an international jury panel. As a result, 18 startup teams were selected to receive a non-equity grant of 25.000 euros from the Trentino region.
The Demo Day was the final stop for participants in the programme. The main target for startup teams was to present their traction to investors and VCs, and showcase their achievements over the course of the programme.
Paolo Lombardi, the Head of the TechPeaks programme and creator of its accelerator concept, opened the day and welcomed participants and guests: “Tech Peaks is the first public international people accelerator in Europe. This means that we invited, to Trento, both individuals and teams to work on their ideas and to find co-founders. The goal of the TechPeaks programme is to bootstrap the local entrepreneurial ecosystem by opening doors to international entrepreneurs and experts.”
Later during the day he added: “During the Demo Day, you could see the broad diversity in the pitches. Some of these business ideas were born here at TechPeaks, with freshly formed teams, and there were even some who pivoted two weeks ago. Other business ideas were driven by a team of co-founders during the last 6-8 months before they came to Trento.”
Photo credit: TechPeaksThe list of TechPeaks startups included different kinds of ICT products and services. In total, 21 teams took the stage to pitch.
- Ciceroos (Italy) – semantic search & discovery of places based on interests and contexts
- Memeoirs (Italy, Portugal) – the very first webapp that allows you to turn your online messages into a book
- Genialis (Slovenia) – a machine-learning method for gene recommendation in biotech markets
- Flowsby (Italy) – keep users on e-commerce sites by providing contextual product information directly on the sales page
- NTice (Hungary, Russia) – find mutual attraction with people going to the same event
- Mapnaut (Italy, Russia) – create your curated subjective map, where your personal places get the relevance they deserve
- YoCrowd (Italy) – Mobile crowdsourcing as a service: YoCrowd helps companies to engage their audiences with customisable mobile and web solutions for crowdsourcing information
- Groupiphany (USA) – the best and most relevant tool to discover places
- Snapclip (Hungary, Russia) – browser-based video editor
- Snippr (Nepal) – experience discovery platform where you can read all the blogs and articles by your favourite writers
- Priceless.ly (Italy, Ukraine) – a platform that facilitates celebrity-driven fundraising
- Learnpeaks (Ukraine, Belorussia) – helps parents educate their children with fun, thanks to combining tangible toys (cubes, figures) with computer vision technologies.
- Skilltide (France, Ukraine) – connects developers and designers with companies offering food, accommodation or travel expenses in exchange for professional services
- Fannabee (Italy) – helps you engage collectors through an innovative user experience and give them a professional tool to show to be the number 1 fan.
- Rabidfish Technologies (Hungary) – a platform, which provides psychometric tests combined with serious game mechanics and data-driven analysis to help companies recruit high-performance Gen-Y employees
- Pubbaloo (Italy, UK) – a tool for pub owners to easily organise games that will attract more customers in their pubs thanks to in-app notifications
- SkyBerry (Poland) – a platform for crowdsourced flight deals
- Practicera (Russia) – business education that helps improve skills and competences
- Lookastic (Russia) – Feetlot tells online shoppers how shoes will fit them, based on shoes they already own
For example, SnapClip just completed the prototype of their online video editor and are planning to release the private beta in a couple of weeks. On the other hand, Genialis already have three paying customers, and are building a product that will be deployed at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. Pricess.ly became a finalist of the European Venture Summit and left for Kiev, directly from the Demo Day, to attend business meetings and hold their next presentation. And the Pubbaloo team are seriously thinking about which market to expand to next, after Italy. They are wondering whether to set up their HQ in Milan, Berlin or London, for their sales-force mobile gaming app for pubs.
Photo credit: TechPeaksThe TechPeaks startup teams are quite international: hackers, hustlers and designers from all over the world. In the first TechPeaks batch, 30% of participants were from the EU; 35% from non-EU countries like Ukraine, Russia, Nepal, the USA; and the other 35% were from Italian startup community.
Pawel Blazejewski, participant from Poland and CTO of SkyBerry, commented: “I used to have a good job in Poland as an IT specialist. But while exploring the startup ecosystem more and more, through media and professional books, I clearly understood that I wanted to work for myself. At TechPeaks, I shifted from a corporate job, and felt the international entrepreneurial spirit while getting much more business knowledge.”
Among the investors, represented at the Demo Day, were United Ventures, Tech Starts London, Atlante Ventures, LDV Capital, H-FARM Ventures, TT Ventures, Venturio VC Fund Mgm, members of business angels networks like BAN and IAG, and many others.
The event took place in Teatro Cuminetti in Trento that created an especially relaxing atmosphere for networking and communication during the “speed-dating” – certainly an important aspect for early-stage startups.
Jon Brandford, Managing Director of Techstars in London, during his fire chat at the Demo Day, mentioned that to work with talents and teams is the most difficult part in accelerators; and participants who experienced “divorce” and “matching” in the projects during the programme, have gained great practicefor life.
So is it over for those startup teams? Of course not! All TechPeaks alumni will get support after the programme. They will have full connection to the existing network of experts, mentors and investors during next year. Also they could apply for the matching fund from Trento RISE.
And very soon, in the middle of December, you will be able to apply for the second batch of the TechPeaks accelerator, starting in early 2014. Apply here and don’t miss the chance!
The TechPeaks programme was founded by Trento RISE – the organisation that connects several of the major actors in ICT research, education and business in the Trento region, and in collaboration with Trentino Sviluppo and EIT ICT Labs. It is a long-term initiative, already set up and funded for four years with 13 million euros of committed Italian government capital.
inventures.eu is a media partner.