After working together with the teams ca 2 months we caught up with our lead mentor from Startup Wise Guys Calum Cameron to calibrate the teams before the DemoDay. In addition we asked the question we hear quite often "How Vunk differs from a seed accelerator?"
Each of the teams has unique strengths and challenges but all have great potential, this is backed by each having support from the real business people inside Telia.
CADirect have been working together as a team for a while now. And it shows. They are clear and consistent in what they are doing as a company. They are clear and consistent in their roles and responsibilities. Each team member has a strong voice respected by the others. All the roles are also covered: business, development and design.
So from a team perspective everything looks great. The problem they are solving makes sense and responses from engineers and distributors show there is demand for their solution. Their big challenge now is to prove the size of the market and this is their main blocker for taking on investment and moving faster.
ByteSight is really strong on tech skills and design. There are loads of 'visionaries' pitching the future of augmented and virtual reality, most of them have no clue how to do it. This team has already done it. At the team's core are brothers Christer and Erich Loob. Some investors love teams that have really strong relationships outside the company. Others are terrified!
When watching these guys work together you can see it is only a good thing. Clear understanding and trust, so they can focus their combined resources on the company with minimal friction.
Having the tech under control is a fantastic asset but the team is yet to identify a single clear use-case. A pilot currently under discussion with Telia and some interest from car dealerships should help out here as they do their initial tests, but they have a way to go before confirming a scalable business model.
HypeSilo have a strong mix of business and tech in their team. So whilst one half of the team is focussed on market validation and use cases, the other half is 'feeding the machine' as they build their algorithms. There is also clear leadership on both streams. They also have at least 4 countries represented in their team so they can validate their ideas not only in Telia Estonia and the wider Estonian market, but they are already building a fan base in Poland.
With so many opportunities for their social media productivity solutions, HypeSilo is finding it hard to focus on a single use case they can build out from. No surprise given the early stage of the team who were strangers before the hackathon. They are also all part-time on the project which is preventing faster learning.
Vunk vs Seed Accelerators
Vunk is currently open to very early-stage - i.e. 'ideation' stage - teams. This creates worlds of opportunity to get in early and shape valuable propositions for the telco industry. But it also means the materials are far rawer and require much more work. Seed-stage accelerators like Startup Wise Guys target companies that already have a product and are selling. This way, they have something to accelerate. There are always exceptions. If Startup Wise Guys meets a team we feel are already moving fast in the right direction, even if they are pre-product we will work with them: e.g. Sorry as a Service and Shipitwise from the most recent programs.
Fundamentally, Vunk and seed accelerators are looking for and offering different value propositions. Seed accelerators are generally investor-backed and looking for strong venture capital opportunities which the accelerator can improve their chances of success. This is done through extremely intensive coaching and global market access opportunities. That success and return on investment is the primary goal. Vunk's focus is on finding teams with unique value propositions for Telia and its customers. Looking for a win-win where Telia offers privileged access to internal resources and intelligence, along with coaching and mentoring in the hope of incubating a new service that builds the Telia value proposition to the Estonian market.
Both approaches offer massive value to startups. And both are subject to the same rules: we will help lots of founders succeed in the future, but only a few will take off with us now. But just a few is all it takes.
Being a Telia Estonia startup lab, Vunk has helped companies partner with Telia to improve their offering and get access to the market. Vunk ran an accelerator for 2 years and pivoted to Collaboration framework this Spring.
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