How does the successful TBNR startup look like at graduation?
1. Focused team, product, validated learning, some traction, clear roadmap.
2. We’ve probably invested ourselves 20-30k for a first boost. Our angel investors may have invested a similar amount.
3. After a very good 6 months and our initial investment, the startup is now valued at 500-ish k and ready for a next round of investment in the range of 100-200k and/or a bigger, international accelerator, if that is suitable.
Our acceleration program is here to give shape and focus to the team and the products, making them credible startups.
We will use our network to put startups in touch with angel investors, investment funds from the country and abroad and later stage accelerators.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does my startup need to be from Iași?
A: No, it doesn’t. We expect most of our startups to be from Iași by consequence of us being here, but we accept startups from anywhere for relocation and even remote acceleration, as long as you can make the few mandatory trips and we are convinced we can work effectively from a distance.
Q: Are you only looking for tech startups?
A: Yes. We are focused on tech, that’s our area of interest, where we see the city’s potential, where we have experience and where we can get 10x returns. See what we are looking for to see details on the kind of ideas we’re looking for.
Q: Do we need to be full time on this startups?
A: No, and we expect early stage teams like the ones we’re looking for to sometimes split their time between full time jobs and their fledging startups. We’re not going to ask you all to quit your jobs just like that, but we do however expect some serious commitment that is more than “whenever I get some time in the evening”. We’ll discuss on a case by case.
Q: Do we need to work from a certain place?
A: We’re going to hold our events (demo days, graduation etc) in the various coworking and conference spaces in Iași. As for you, we will likely strongly encourage you to get access to a place where you can work together, as working from home is not always the best way to go. We’re still unsure if coworking spaces are the best option, due to distractions, or if it’s better to just have each startup setup in their own apartment somewhere. We’re still analyzing. Regardless of the option, we will help you get setup.
Q: Do you accept one person teams?
A. There are many valid reasons why we will probably recommend you get a co-founder or a team at a certain point, and it’s usually an advantage in our selection process to be more than one, but we understand why you may have started alone and we can definitely meet and talk about your plans and see if it works.
Q: Who are the coaches that will work closely with the startups?
A: Most if not all of the coaches will be from among the TBNR team. We will also serve as mentors for some areas, but we’ll also have a network of mentors from among the best professionals in their fields from Iași and not only.
Q: How involved will the coaches be?
A: Expect an average of 2-4 hours/week of direct interaction with your coach, a 2-4 hours mentor event every couple of weeks, some more work in the beginning to set everything up, a couple of full day demo events and a full day graduation event. Other than this, all work is ad hoc and on demand and up to you and your coach. Our intention is not to incubate and “take over” your business, suffocate you, but to guide and coach in decisive and efficient ways, that also grow your autonomy and decision making skills at the same time.
Q: Why do you ask for equity for acceleration?
A: It’s very important for us that both we and you treat this as a serious business relationship, and not simply a hobby or a pastime activity. That’s why we will ask (and help with) your incorporation as a company and why we’ll ask for a very small piece of equity (2-3%) from that company from the accelerated startups. As always, we’ll analyze each case individually. For example, we may forego this if you’re already a better established startups and/or we’re also taking about investment from the beginning.
Q: What % of equity do you want for your investment?
A: We will typically invest 20-30k per startup. At a valuation of 200k, 30k is 15% and 20k is 10%. What will your valuation be? Considering that we’re likely to be your first ever investment your valuation is going to be a factor of negotiation between us and it will vary on case by case. As ranges, we expect idea stage startups that just start and form inside TBNR to be valued between 100-200k and more advanced startups, with an existing MVP, some traction, to be in the upper ranges and above that, analyzed case by case.
Q: When do you invest in the acceleration program?
A. Acceleration and investment are two different things. We may not invest in all the startups we accelerate. Investment is a case by case decision and proposal we’ll make to the startup individually, and it may come at varying points during the program, for various amounts and equity %s, depending on the specifics, the potential and the needs of that startup. For some we’ll know from the beginning that we want to invest and we’ll talk to them about it from day one, for others we may want to wait and see how they perform before we jump in.
Q: Who are the angel investors and do how they work?
A: The angel investors are private individuals that are interested in investing in specific startups. Each of them may have certain preferences in terms of industry, stage etc. Some of our backers have expressed an interest to also be angel investors, and several other people from Iași, other cities and abroad have done the same. It’s an ever growing list and we’re always working to expand it. As the startups we accelerate grow and take shape, we will actively help them get in touch with suitable angel investors for potential investment. An angel investor may invest in a startup we’ve also already invested in, or be the first investor. The amount and equity for it are up to the startup and the angel investor and it’s a result of your negotiation, but we will advise.
Q: You mentioned other funds, bigger investments after graduation and international accelerators. How does that work?
A: The typical success story for us is an early stage startup coming to TBNR at idea stage or early MVP, starting acceleration with us in March 2018. Sometime during March-May we may invest 20-30k in you at a valuation of say 150-200k, which is 10-15%. This is money to give you focus and the means to concentrate on work for the duration of the program. Through our acceleration program, the coaching and mentoring your receive here, your team and product is sharpened and focused, your MVP built, validated, you start to get some traction. By the time you graduate, around September ’18, you start to be credible at a valuation of 500k, 750k even maybe, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more. We will at this point start to network you to bigger investment funds in Romania and not only, the kind of funds that will invest 100-200-300k into a startup they like. This may come as simply funding, or as part of being accepted into a lager, international accelerator. This is the natural next step for your startup. We are actively working to develop and grow this network of funds and partner accelerators that can serve as a next step for our alumni. Of course, this is a success story that is by no means guaranteed and is dependent on a lot of hard work, but this is what we’re aiming for.
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