SiloMeter ready to sell stable product, sets its sights on hardware universal compatibility │Alumni Updates

We caught up with Silometer, an MVP Academy 2016 alumni building an integrated approach to crops and silos sensor monitoring, to talk about the latest improvements to their sales strategy and the prospects of near future, while entering their second year of existence.

Silometer has had its fair share of difficulties on its road in first 12 months: they’re not only building hardware as part of their setup – traditionally more difficult to devise than software -, but they’re also doing it in a tough-to-crack, mostly offline industry of agritech.

The hardware model they are currently shipping comes after 3 prototypes and 4 other MVPs tested throughout all of 2016. The final hardware system is part made of third-party equipment, part built entirely in-house – the key factor in component compatibility is finding the right suppliers and keeping a close eye on the quality and terms in which they are providing what you need. One thing stands out from Silometer’s experience in this area: as with software, building hardware is an exercise in A/B testing between suppliers of components – which are assimilated as predictable losses.

Another important aspect pointed out by the experience of Silometer building their hardware product is that of failing fast, but in a controlled environment: “You should basically do all the mistakes you can think of while prototyping, and do them with a select group of close customers – for our first pilot tests, for instance, we wanted to check how easy it was to set-up some sensors on a silo, in order for any farmer to be able to do it, so we sent up a couple of our interns and took a close look over their results. This let us understand how usable – or not – the hardware was, from the moment you took it out of the package.”

Finally, the founders made one final important point on the production side: try to standardise as much of your physical product as possible. If you can reuse as many of the components as possible for various types of setups and implementations, you will be able to optimise your raw materials supply side.

As mentioned, hardware agritech is a complicated industry, so anyone trying to develop a solution in this field has had its fair share of difficulties in its road: they’re not only building hardware as part of their setup – traditionally more difficult to devise than software -, but they’re also doing it in a tough, mostly offline industry of agritech.

Moving on to the sales side, anyone developing an agritech product should expect the traditional distribution channels to function differently than in an another tech startup: expect a lot of pre-sales face-to-face interactions, even in the last stage of the sale process; most of the times, not even the final decision of buying a product will happen remotely. Also, the entire sales cycle is much longer and involves a lot of in-person meetings, so be careful when monitoring your customer acquisition cost and the associated lifetime value.

Finally, to ramp up sales, reach out to the stakeholders in the agriculture business such as farmers’ and traders’ associations, because the people handling these organisations can create a ripple effect within the structure if they believe in your product.

Next, Silometer is preparing to ship a version of their SaaS product as a white-label version, so any sensor owner, regardless of the firmware, can implement it with full capability. At the same time, they are looking to expand their sales team with a senior manager and travelling to various industry events to exhibit their product.

 

Up to $2 million in free services for MVP Academy startups

$2 million in perks for startups accepted in MVP Academy accelerator. We have added new vouchers for the teams that are now part of the 4th edition of the accelerator. Besides free access to various tools for hosting, e-mailing services and marketing, announced at the beginning of the program, each startup will get free access to Microsoft BizSpark. This package includes free Azure cloud credits, free software, services and technical support that will help the teams to accelerate the development of their products.

Developed in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft, Raiffeisen Bank and Pfizer, the MVP Academy acceleration program is free and targets tech startups that are working on products aimed at global markets.

As part of the MVP Academy accelerator 2017, all the companies and founders have access to various perks valued at over $2 million. Most of these are tools and services that cover startups’ needs to develop their products faster.

Besides free access to various tools for hosting, e-mailing services and marketing, announced at the beginning of the program, each startup will get free access to BizSpark, a package that includes free Azure cloud credits, free software, services and technical support. All these perks are designed for the startups that entered the program in 2017 and that need business and technical support to accelerate their companies’ growth.

“The online services provided by MVP Academy program are really supporting the business we develop. Having an industrial SaaS in our portfolio, we do need marketing tools for Box2M’s customer services delivery. When you design industrial IOT devices, you also need the engineering and process integration with 3PP IOT management platforms. Usually, you pay a lot for these tools, and an early-stage startup doesn’t always have the budget. It’s helpful for our business to be able to access those for free.”, said Alexandru Gliga, founder of Box2M, one of the startups in the 2017 cohort.

MVP Academy accelerator program is halfway through. Its purpose is to help the teams to validate their business strategy through workshops and weekly mentoring sessions with local and regional experts in the industry. From now on, the participants will work on their final pitches they will deliver in front of +500 tech professionals, mentors, entrepreneurs, investors and potential business partners that will join the final event of the program: MVP Academy Demo Day, happening on 8th of May, at Cinema Pro.

The startups that are part of MVP Academy batch of 2017 are Alter Ego, BOX2M, CoinFlux, Engager, FeedCheck, Froala, PixTeller, Profluo, Road Grand Tours and Symme3D Biotech.

They are developing global products in industries as fintech, biotech & 3D printing, industrial automation, retail, security, software development tools and sports & entertainment.

More details about MVP Academy 2017 are available on the our program’s website: www.mvpacademy.co.

MVP Academy 2017: The Finalists

11 tech startups that develop global products in industries as fintech, biotech, industrial automation, retail, security, software development tools and sports & entertainment have been selected for the 4th edition of MVP Academy accelerator.

For nine weeks, all the teams will go through a complex business development process that consists in 1-on-1 meetings with international mentors, workshops and pitch practice sessions. On 8th of May, all the startups will have the opportunity to present their products in front of investors and potential business partners during MVP Academy Demo Day, the final pitching event of the program.

Developed in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft and Raiffeisen Bank, the MVP Academy acceleration program is free and targets tech startups that are working on products aimed at global markets.

This year’s batch is living proof that the national roadshow (the first time in MVP Academy history when such a series of events was organised) was a success – they come from Bucharest, Timisoara, Cluj and Iași:

    • BOX2M – a technology infrastructure that develops devices and software programs to monitor and control IoT industrial systems.
    • CoinFlux – an online service, fast and straightforward, that allows the online bank transfer for virtual money including bitcoin, ether and litecoin.
    • Cyber Alter Ego – a browser extension that protects the user’s identity against cyber attacks.
    • Engager – the employee engagement app for knowledge workers in medium and large sized companies.
    • FeedCheck – an online platform that collects and analyses the reviews of the products sold through online shops.
    • Froala – helps developers build and edit beautiful websites with products focused on UX, innovation and customer care.
    • PixTeller – an online tool that can be used by anyone to improve and simplify the design process.
    • Profluo – a digital platform that uses data to help SMBs to define and develop a personalized business process.
    • Road Grand Tours – a multiplayer online world  that creates a virtual reality to allow bikers to explore the best roads in the world from the comfort of their home.
    • Symme3D Biotech – the first Romanian independent producer that develops a 3D printing machine for various avascular living tissue and blood vessels from stem cells.
    • Wyliodrinprovides a software development platform together with advanced educational services and products designed specifically for IoT.

”It was a very challenging selection process. We have had so many well-developed startups that applied for our program, and we had to select the best 11 startups with the most mature businesses. The MVP Academy community, mentors and alumni alike, have provided an incredible support in identifying the best new teams and products. Congratulations to the all who made it into the program, the challenging part is yet to come: together with the teams we will go through nine weeks of hard work designed to prepare these companies for the global market.” said Bogdan Iordache, Program Director of MVP Academy Accelerator.

As part of the MVP Academy accelerator 2017, all the companies and founders will have access to various perks valued at over $1 million. Most of these are tools and services that cover startups’ needs to develop their products faster.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of the 2017 Batch!

MVP Academy 2017: 3 days left to apply

Tech startups that are looking for financing opportunities and want to benefit from mentoring sessions with international experts can apply to the MVP Academy acceleration program until Sunday, February 19. For 9 weeks, each selected team will work with industry mentors and gain free access to services of over $1 million in order to develop their business successfully. Applications are open online on www.mvpacademy.co.

Developed in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft and Raiffeisen Bank, the MVP Academy acceleration program is free and directed to tech startups that are working on products aimed at global markets.

For 9 weeks, selected teams will go through tens of 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with local and international specialists such as Florin Talpeș (Founder & CEO Bitdefender), Radu Georgescu (Founding Partner GECAD Ventures), Robert Knapp (Co-founder & CEO CyberGhost VPN), Adrian Gheară (Tech Startup Advisor & Investor) and Max Kelly (Managing Director, TechStars London). The entire list of mentors is available online on the program’s website.

Over 70 workshops, pitch practice sessions and business consultancy sessions

One of the main components of the program is the 1-on-1 business consultancy sessions with specialists from the industries that the startups in the program are active. Each team will have the opportunity to discuss about the development of their own business with dedicated experts: from marketing and software engineering experts to global product development specialists and other startup founders.

”For TypingDNA, the MVP Academy experience was extraordinary. I entered the program with an inovative technology, but without a concrete business model. In less than one month, I went several times through the “failure-success” cycle, tens of 1-on-1 meetings and many intense debates. The speed at which things happen once you’re part of such a program is unbelievable, and the confidence with which you finish is either zero or maximum,” according to Raul Popa, the founder of TypingDNA, one of the teams taking part in MVP Academy last year.

Following the graduation of the 2016 program, TypingDNA received an investment from GECAD Ventures and several top local angel investors, launched a first version of the product in the form of an API and is currently expanding the team to pursue the next steps in product development.

One of the novelties of the 2017 edition is the fact that each selected team will benefit from free services of over $1 million. These are, in particular, technical resources such as hosting, e-mailing, marketing tools, storage services etc. that will allow entrepreneurs to validate new functionalities and identify opportunities faster and cheaper.

Demo Day – pitching event in front of over 500 tech professionals, investors and mentors

The fourth edition of the MVP Academy acceleration program will conclude with Demo Day, a pitching  event where the teams will present their startups in front of an audience composed of investors, entrepreneurs, mentors and regional tech experts. In 2016, more than 500 guests took part at the final event of the program.

The most promising teams in MVP Academy may receive an investment in exchange of a minority stake of the company, through MVP Angels, an investment network composed of business angels, associated with the acceleration program.

In order to be accepted in the program, startups must develop a tech product, have a functional prototype of it, target a global market and be committed to the development of the business. Taking part in the MVP Academy acceleration program is free and applications are open until Sunday, 19 February 2017, on the program’s website.

MVP Academy is organised in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft Romania, Raiffeisen Bank and operational aid from F6S. The program’s media activity is ensured by Start-up.ro, Startup Cafe, EuropaFM, Business Review, Softlead, IQAds, eFinance, Agora, The Trends, with the support of Zelist Monitor and tech professionals communities.

Woogie graduates from StartupBootCamp IoT/Connected Devices│Alumni Updates

A couple of weeks ago, Woogie, an MVP Academy 2016 alumni creating a voice-activated device designed to interact with children, took the stage during the Demo Day of the first batch of StartupBootCamp IoT/Connected Devices acceleration program in London.

A few days after the event, Woogie shared with us some information about how the StartupBootCamp experience influenced their current status.

Woogie is developed for end-users living in English-speaking countries as the US or UK, so the biggest reason for which the team decided to join the London accelerator was the opportunity to develop the product right where the end-users exist.

Throughout the 3 months of the program, Woogie had the opportunity to do several series of user interviews with native English speakers. Following all of their efforts, the team has better understood that the educational focus of the product may be the area on which they should focus on.

Here is Woogie’s pitch at StartupBootCamp IoT │Connected Devices (starting at 0:50):

Since being accepted in the accelerator last autumn, part of the team spent most of their time in London, working remote with their team in Bucharest. While it was at times complicated for the part of team in Bucharest to feel the day-to-day pressure of the accelerator, they managed to establish a system of collaboration that worked: most of the Bucharest-based team came to London to enjoy parts of the accelerator, and they held daily meetings setting a couple of personal objectives for each member.

Overall, when Woogie decided to take part in StartupBootcamp, each team member had to decide whether to take the full leap of faith or not. Their prior time spent in MVP Academy prepared them for the real trials of building their product; for some of them, MVP Academy 2016 was the moment they decided to leave everything aside and work exclusively on Woogie.

In the following months, part of the founding team will be meeting with investors that showed interest in their product, with an objective to raise their initial seed round, of around EUR 400,000.

//We’re looking for the next tech startups ready to take over the world – applications for MVP Academy 2017, the no-equity acceleration program taking place in Bucharest, from March to May 2017, close on Feb 19.

$1 million in perks for startups accepted in MVP Academy accelerator

Startups accepted in 4th edition of MVP Academy accelerator will receive over $1 million in perks. These come in the form of services from mentor companies across the MVP Academy network and have been enabled to help founders accelerate their business during the nine weeks of the program. Besides, the teams will get industry connections, mentoring sessions with tech professionals and access to investment opportunities. Participation at MVP Academy is free of charge. Tech startups can apply on the program’s website www.mvpacademy.co by Sunday, 19 February 2017.

Organised in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft Romania and Raiffeisen Bank, MVP Academy accelerator will take place this year between 6 March and 8 May, at TechHub Bucharest.

For over nine weeks, tech startups accepted into the program will go through tens of hours of 1 on 1 mentoring sessions with local and global experts part of the MVP Academy network. They will work on defining their business development strategy, product features, product market fit and will practice their investment pitch. The most promising teams of this edition will have a chance to raise an investment through MVP Angels, the angel investors network associated with the acceleration program, in exchange for a minority stake in the company.

Perks valued at over $1 million from mentor companies

As part of the MVP Academy accelerator 2017, all the companies and founders will have access to various perks valued at over $1 million. Most of these are tools and services that cover startups’ needs to develop their products faster:

“Early stage startups need a lot of business and technical support to accelerate their company’s growth. Some of them are established companies, with recurring revenue so what they need is to test various distribution channels. Others are working on their product, and they need specific technical tools and programs. Starting with 2017, we will be able to give them free access to various tools for hosting, e-mailing services, marketing tools, storage services etc. that will allow founders to validate new product features and to identify emerging opportunities much easier. These perks are another benefit of our program that will help the teams to accelerate their companies as much as possible during the 9 weeks of the program.”, said Bogdan Iordache, Managing Director MVP Academy.

Hands-on guidance from global mentors

EUR 1.7 million is the total financing of all the MVP Academy alumni up to date. Companies as Axosuits, InnerTrends, Reflex, Urby and TypingDNA have been a part of the program during previous editions.

Founders and teams with a solid professional track that are building tech products with global potential are invited to apply until Sunday, February 19, by filling in the registration form available online on the program’s website www.mvpacademy.co.

Among of the mentors that will offer support to the MVP Academy teams are Max Kelly (Managing Director, TechStars Londra), Robert Knapp (Co-founder & CEO CyberGhost VPN), Enis Hulli (Associate Partner 500 Startups Istanbul), Martyn Davies (Programme Director Ignite accelerator, London), Paul Smith (Head of Program Dubai Future), Florin Talpeș (Founder & CEO Bitdefender), Radu Georgescu (Founding Partner GECAD Ventures), Carmen Sebe (Business Advisor), Vladimir Oane (Director of Product Hootsuite), Lucian Todea (Founder & CEO Soft32), Adrian Gheară (Tech Startup Advisor & Investor), Bogdan Rîpă (Senior Director of Product Management at Fitbit).

To be accepted into the program, startups need to be working on a tech-related product, have a functional prototype, target a global market and show commitment in building their business. Taking part in MVP Academy is free-of-charge, and applications are open until Sunday, 19 February 2017, on the program’s website.

Founders that want to find out more about the program can reach out to the organising team at TechHub Bucharest or during their mentoring sessions and presentation events in various cities across the country. By now, they have organised free mentoring sessions in Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj. Next stops will be in Bucharest and Sibiu. More details on this topic are available on the program’s website.

MVP Academy is a program organised in partnership with CyberGhost VPN, with the support of Bitdefender, Microsoft Romania and Raiffeisen Bank, and perks from F6S and other companies. Program’s coverage is achieved with the support of  Start-up.ro, Startup Cafe, EuropaFM, Business Review, Softlead, IQAds, eFinance, Agora and local tech communities.

Timisoara was a blast! Cluj, what do you have in store?

Two weeks before the application deadline for MVP Academy 2017, the acceleration program for early-stage tech startups, we’re moving through the country meeting startups in all stages and industries. After the great outcome of meetings in emerging startup-center Iași, we arrived for a couple of days in vibrant Timișoara.

The local ecosystem has enjoyed an impressive run of recent deals involving tech startups, and is also home to some fast-growth companies – to name a few of Timișoara’s achievements up-to-date:

This relative abundance of local success stories is a result of the efforts of community stakeholders, that have taken the lead in creating the conditions for startups to appear. Groups such as Timisoara Startups, or hubs like Timisoara Startup Hub and the newer Cowork Timisoara play a big role in this – that’s why we had a short chat with the people behind them, to understand the mechanics of it all:

The growth would not have been possible with financial resources – local angel investors understood this, and are meeting regularly to discuss with startups that may be potential investment targets. We got the chance to discuss them firsthand during an event at Timisoara Startup Hub.

Bogdan Iordache, MVP Academy Director, discussing about angel investments in Romania, at an event in Timișoara, 27 January 2017

This week, we’re in Cluj for a couple of meetings:

Applications for MVP Academy 2017 end on Feb 19, on the program’s website. If you’re an early-stage tech startup, with an exceptional founding team and are aiming to reach global markets, we are eager to work with you.

Thanks Iasi, next stop is Timisoara!

Last week we’ve been in the lovely city of Iasi, meeting local tech startups and entrepreneurs, and getting to know what we’ve found out to be a vibrant, optimistic tech community.

While we have never had a startup from Iasi in the MVP Academy program, we’re pretty optimistic this year — some of the teams we’ve seen have the determination and execution capacity we’re looking for.

Bogdan Iordache, MVP Academy Program Director, giving a presentation about the program @ The Grape

Big thanks to the Digital Product Meetup organizer Cristi Birladeanu, The Grape hub main man Tudor Gandu, and the Marionette Studio team, one of the startups from Iasi we’ve met, with whom we’ve filmed a short video about the local tech scene.

This week we’ll be in Timisoara, and we’ll be part of a couple of meetups while also discussing with promising tech startups and entrepreneurs in the rest of the time. Catch us at:

See you soon Timisoara!

PS: Next next stop is Cluj, on 7th, 8th and 9th of February.

Scouting for the best — MVP Academy team is meeting with startups in Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj and Bucharest

As this year’s MVP Academy application deadline is approaching fast (reminder: apply by February 18th!), we have started again to look for the most promising startups in Romania. 

Apart from our online activities, this year we are also taking to the road: we are meeting tech startups and entrepreneurs in Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj and Bucharest in the next weeks. We are giving our best to make ourselves available in as many meetups, one-to-ones and other events as possible, but if you want to give us a ping and tell us more about your project, we encourage you to do so.

So see you in Iasi (on 18th and 19th of January), Timisoara (26th and 27th of January), Cluj (7th, 8th and 9th of February) and Bucharest (15th of February, at TechHub Bucharest Demo Night).

EUR 1.7M alumni total funding, applications now open for MVP Academy 2017

The MVP Academy acceleration program, developed by TechHub Bucharest, announces that applications are open for the 4th edition of the accelerator dedicated to tech businesses. Startup founders that want to benefit from mentorship with tech experts, connections with the global industry and investment opportunities can submit their applications online. Participation is free of charge and the applications are open on the program’s website www.mvpacademy.co until Sunday, 19 February 2017.

The 4th edition of the MVP Academy accelerator will take place this year between 6 March and 8 May, at TechHub Bucharest – the largest coworking space dedicated to tech professionals in Romania. The program takes place for 9 weeks and is dedicated to tech entrepreneurs that are building businesses with a global potential. In the first three editions, MVP Academy has accelerated the growth of 45 businesses.

EUR 760K – the total investment raised by MVP Academy 2016 alumni until now.

Seven of the startups taking part in MVP Academy 2016 have received financing of over EUR 760,000, including Reflex, Urby and TypingDNA, bringing the total financing of all the MVP Academy alumni to over EUR 1.7 million. Currently, 8 of the products developed by the 2016 alumni are available on the market, with the rest still under development in various stages. The products cover industries such as artificial intelligence, security, energy, eHealth, agritech, mobility, most of them having a B2B/B2C business model; also, a third are hardware products.

Most teams in MVP Academy 2016 have grown their teams lately, and only one startup has suspended entirely its activity since the end of the program.

Among the startups with the best results:

  • Reflex received an investment and will start clinical trials of the product in February 2017;
  • Silometer registered a revenue of over EUR 106,000 in 2016 and is currently under review to be accepted in the Pearse Lyons Accelerator (Dublin).
  • Scooterson got accepted in HAX Boost acceleration program (San Francisco) and has pre-orders of over EUR 380,000.
  • TypingDNA received an investment from GECAD Ventures and several other local angel investors. A first version of their product, in the form of an API, is available.

More details about the results of the MVP Academy alumni are available in the follow-up report published online at www.mvpacademy.co.

MVP Academy 2017 – Selection criteria

The MVP Academy acceleration program moves forward with its 4th edition. Founders and teams with a solid professional track that are building tech products with global potential are invited to apply until Sunday, 19 February 2017, by filling in the registration form available online on the program’s website www.mvpacademy.co.

In addition, those who are interested in finding out more about the program will have the opportunity to get in touch with part of the MVP Academy mentors and organising team, during the events planned in several cities, including Iași, Timișoara, Cluj, Bucharest and Sibiu. Details about the events will be published on the program’s website.

Between 6 March and 8 May, selected teams will take part in tens of hours of 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with national and international experts in order to refine their development strategy, product functionalities and go-to-market strategy. The most promising MVP Academy teams may receive an investment through MVP Angels, the angel investors network associated with the acceleration program, in exchange for a minority stake in the company.

In order to be accepted in the program, startups need to be working on a tech-related product, have a functional prototype, target a global market and show commitment in building their business. Taking part in MVP Academy is free-of-charge, and applications are open until Sunday, 19 February 2017, on the program’s website.