Specifics of Iceland
Although Iceland is one of the smallest countries in Europe in terms of population with slightly more than 350,000 citizens, the desire to build propellant entrepreneurship is crucial here. Startup Reykjavik was founded to fill the gap of acceleration programs as assistants for starting businesses in the country and already included in the Global Accelerator Network.
Terms and conditions in short
As life in Iceland is quite different compared to continental Europe due to climatic conditions, the program of Startup Reykjavik takes place once a year and lasts during summer for only 10 weeks. The underlying numbers for this accelerator are $22,000 of funding and 6% equity for accepted ideas, which comes from Arion Banki as the partner of the organization being reviewed.
This business accelerator provides participants with free office space and modern technical facilities for proper growth. Regular meetings with mentors, access to the valuable network, various lectures, and investor day are also present in this program. It is also open to entrepreneurs from abroad and will help with finding a place for temporary living.
What do startuppers think about Startup Reykjavik?
However, such a presentation can seem too demonstrative to rely on before making a vital choice for your business. So, we gathered reviews of the real participants who were glad to share their experiences and help newcomers.
“As they give basic funding and take some equity, they want to see the practical side transparently before acceptance”
Sigurður Ásgeir Árnason – co-founder.
Idea: “Platform for music lovers who can create and demonstrate it in the single app.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
Feel the music
“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” This rhetorical question once asked by historian Jane Swan, actually, shows that people don’t know much about the music and how it acts. The best musical tones come from the soul and can directly hit it, without any rational connections. Probably, feeling and understanding music in such an in-depth manner allowed Sigurður and his team to realize their idea.
“Curiosity. That was the primary reason; regardless, we understood all the benefits could receive.”
“Drexler application is a platform where the user can create and socialize electro-music without any special skills and knowledge. One can make a rhythm simply by clapping hands and recording this sound, while intuitive settings of the app allow creating a music arrangement in the way how the person feels it. So, Drexler helps people to identify their tune taste and perception, while also can act as a social network about the music.”
Be closer to possibilities
The answer to the simple question “why did you decide to join Startup Reykjavik?” was quite unusual. “Curiosity. That was the primary reason; regardless, we understood all the benefits could receive. Our friends recommended applying to this platform, which is the biggest in Iceland and really helps young entrepreneurs. Another essential reason was the relocation to the capital with all the following benefits,” explains the interviewee.
About two-thirds of the Iceland population lives in Reykjavik, but those who don’t live will understand Sigurður much better. “It is much easier to accomplish all the tasks in the capital: access to market and investors, building business relations, etc. The regarded platform allows accomplishing all these tasks faster, which is only facilitated by the free open space in the capital.”
Know your product, especially financial perspectives
Apart from the traditional set of advice to those who want to join Startup Reykjavik, Drexler’s co-founder also stated the “right attitude to the product and understanding of its financial perspective. As they give basic funding and take some equity, they want to see the practical side transparently before acceptance.”
The next quote that may be used to describe Sigurður’s melomaniac idea belongs to Leo Tolstoy: “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” It seems that the interviewee is among the people who enjoy the unknown and it gives him an additional passionate drive. Curiosity towards acceleration program, the desire to develop a product tightly related to unstable human emotions, what else? Probably, there is no answer to the last question, but definitely, it would be interesting to watch how far it can go in this case.
“We were looking for funding and had a well-structured idea, proof of concept, and even clients that were ready to pay. In other words, both sides received what they were looking for during the interview”
Anna Björk Theodórsdóttir – co-founder.
Idea: “Digital platform about pricing and tendencies for seafood.”
Business Target Audience: International.
Is there were no complex info about seafood earlier?
Even the development of digital technologies and globalization sometimes cannot deal with the immediate needs and tons of specific information. Applying this evidence to the seafood market allowed Anna Björk Theodórsdóttir and the rest of the team create a unique digital platform.
“We are collecting global seafood supply and price data, developing a market information platform for the seafood industry. The idea is to be the Bloomberg for this kind of products. Visitors of our website get access to data about the latest international trade trends, including the latest raw material prices, information on supplies and the latest market development information deals. We are collecting a lot of data on a global scale for the seafood industry, and we aim to have total coverage on supply and price information on all species. Access to our information platform is available on a subscription basis.”
Can acceptance be simple?
“[We] had a well-structured idea, proof of concept, and even clients that were ready to pay.”Anna Björk Theodórsdóttir
The issue of acceptance to Startup Reykjavik was simple to Anna as she explained intentions and advantages over the other applicants in one sentence. “We were looking for funding and had a well-structured idea, proof of concept, and even clients that were ready to pay. In other words, both sides received what they were looking for during the interview.”
Readiness to particular cases
However, not only starting investments attracted the interviewee to join the accelerator, as the need to receive knowledge in marketing and useful contacts were also among the intentions. “We were building something extremely specific, and Startup Reykjavik gave us access to mentors with experience in marketing, they even helped us with advice after the program had ended.”
To expand the thought about the specificity they needed, Anna gave a wider explanation. “We got industry partners, and that was exactly what we were looking for. It was like smart funding for us because now we are in tight contact with a trustworthy seafood software company. Sea Data Center also got access to the additional analytic team of 10 people.”
Cool story, but where is advice?
One of the essential benefits of success stories is hidden in their format: no direct recommendations, but as many details about the process as possible. Those who are looking for advice can compare their experience with the speaker’s one and define personal gaps or inconsistencies. Those who don’t have enough passion and ability to overcome obstacles will not use even the most transparent and suitable hint.
“Training to the final pitch can be held by the person who taught politicians to speak, while during the DEMO day even the president may be present”
Valur Thor Gunnarsson – co-founder.
Idea: “Easy and flexible usage of electronic signatures.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
The appropriate background is crucial
There are tons of quotes related to details, and most of them are about the importance of every aspect of the work. The more details a person knows in a specific sphere, the smarter this specialist is. However, none of the areas of human activity can exist independently, and people have to understand related fields to be better even in the specific one. Here is an example of Valur Thor Gunnarsson:
“I was working in online banking and as product manager close to 10 years and was tightly related to online payments and signatures. So, when I decided to switch to startup activity and chose the idea, I understood the background from the practical side. That is why our product is valuable for banks, insurance companies, and other firms or institutions, which are working in the digital environment regularly. Moreover, we provide clients with all the needed elements, starting with equipment and finishing with customization of documents or related processes.”
Structured advice for applicants
The question about the acceptance process also showed an attentive attitude of Valur towards details. “First of all, they are looking at your team. Secondly, the idea or concept should be valuable and scalable with opportunities to conquer abroad markets. In the third place will be the purpose, where helpful technology or environmental innovations are preferable in the Startup Reykjavik. Finally, they should believe that the concept is real and can be implemented.”
What are the participants doing during the program?
Despite the fact that the financial side is an inevitable part of every startup plan, the interviewee explained that there is no direct help in the scope of this except starting bonus. “The most time is usually spent on polishing the concept and business model. What relates to finding the first client or investor, Startup Reykjavik helps only by preparing you and organizing appropriate meetings. For instance, training to the final pitch can be held by the person who taught politicians to speak, while during the DEMO day even the president may be present and you should be ready to additional pressure.”
Once more about mentors
“Coaches are helping to identify gaps, giving valuable advice, and even consulting after the end of the program.”Valur Thor Gunnarsson
Even though Valur explained a lot of interesting aspects that are present during the program, the primary benefit was quite ordinary. “For me, the most valuable things were mentorship and training. Moreover, coaches are helping to identify gaps, giving valuable advice, and even consulting after the end of the program.”
Magic is in the details
Summing up this interview, the importance of details for every beginning was confirmed again, one more time, but not the last. The attentive approach will always lead to astonishing results. Instead of the final word, let’s just quote the most prominent master in cartoons production, Walt Disney: “There is no magic in magic, it’s all in the details.”
“The most important is to understand what you want from the program as the participant makes it effective, not the staff of Startup Reykjavik”
Mathieu Skulason – co-founder.
Idea: “Facilitate children’s math learning by combining psychology and IT.”
Business Target Audience: International.
The variety of entertaining content and access to it significantly changed the manner of life and activities of kids. On the one hand, it affects the educational process and traditional approaches to learning, and that is a global challenge. On the contrary, the latest technologies and level of knowledge in psychology allow making the educational process more joyful and exciting for children.
“We made a revolution in the way children are learning math,” explains Mathieu Skulason, a co-founder of Flow Education. “Our team creates a platform that facilitates studying mathematics 3 to 12 times due to the newest approaches in psychology and computer science. The program uses an individual approach to every kid that allows defining the strongest and weakest sides, adjust to every student, and analyze the progress. In our case, everyone is dedicated to the general idea, so not every software developer can be hired.”
Acceptance to Startup Reykjavik
As usual, the acceptance process is quite challenging, and every startupper has unique advice on how to join the accelerator. “It becomes harder with years, but you definitely have to know what will you do with your business, have a clear vision and digital solution. They may allow a few weird ideas per year, but it’s better not to rely on such an approach,” warned Mathieu. “However, the most important is to understand what you want from the program as the participant makes it effective, not the staff of Startup Reykjavik.”
Mentorship as complex help
“Among them [mentors] can be a few that don’t like your product or idea, but they are giving a valuable lesson to be ready to a negative reaction, which is common during the pitching.”Mathieu Skulason
The interviewee philosophically highlighted the issue of mentorship. “We had a lot of mentors with appropriate experience, but the program also assumes people that can give qualitative feedback for you. Among them can be a few that don’t like your product or idea, but they are giving a valuable lesson to be ready for a negative reaction, which is common during the pitching. In general, it looks like regular meetings a few times a week that last about 30 minutes. Although some of them will become your advisors even after the program, sometimes you want to ask deeper questions but the time limit disallows it.”
Perspective vs Obstacles
The solution developed by Mathieu Skulason is unique and useful, but obstacles are also quite specific. Thus, “there are only about 1000 schools all over the world that can use our method due to technical capabilities. Also, B2B propositions for the public sector are hard and not very profitable by default. However, the EdTech sphere is one of the most promising and fast-growing.” We hope that this idea of a better future for our children will receive support faster than give up upon difficulties.