A couple of days ago we have opened our call for startups. In order to make you understand what the call is, how does it work and to whom is addressed we have asked some questions to Augusto Coppola, the director of the acceleration program.
Q . #1 What does it mean accelerating and which is the objective of the acceleration program by LUISS ENLABS?
A. The objective is choosing teams with a prototype and leading them to invoicing with real clients within five months. While we do it we prepare the teams to close a new investment round between 250 and 500K euros after three months since the end of the acceleration program and to a pre-money evaluation between 800K and 2M euros. Accelerating, to us, means objectively multiplying from twice to five times the initial value of the startup letting third party investors further finance the growth without weakening too much the founders.
Q. #2 At which stage of developement a startup should look for the support of an accelerator?
A. The startup applying to LUISS ENLABS acceleration program must have an almost complete team. The team of the startup can have some weaknesses but cannot have gaps. There must be a back-end developer, a front-end developer and a marketer or a very good full stack developer and a person in charge of the strategy. We consider it crucial having a prototype that works properly showing that you have been working on the project for a long time and that money, effort and time have been spent on it, that the team is able to do what it wants to do but, and above all, that in a short period of time you will be able to launch a private beta version of the website. These are the minimum requirements, any further elements car represent a plus. We do not require that the startup applying has a traction, but if it does the chances to be selected increase.
Q. #3 Which are the advantages that an accelerated startup can have if compared to a not accelerated one?
A. There are several advantages. The first one is the investment: 30K euros cash to do whatever you want , plus 50K euros of concrete facilities consisting not only in the office, the Internet etc. LUISS ENLABS provides you with a qualified know-how in order to carefully control your activities. During the last three acceleration programs every startup has reached the fixed objectives. Furthermore, there is the network. LUISS ENLABS is a place where, due to the number of advisors and partners, you can shorten the time it takes reaching the market. Every startup out of the last three acceleration programs started invoicing, with real clients before finshing the program. This does not mean that they had success, but this makes possible for the 80% of the startups entering LUISS ENLABS acceleration program, to receive an investment by a third party investor after the program. Furthermore, we are investors and, like every investor, we know this world in depth and we are able to support you in order to understand who can be useful for you and and your business getting in touch with him/her.
Q. #4 Someone thinks going abroad could be a better choice. What do you think about it?
A. You should go in the best accelerator without missing your own country nor being fascinated by foreign cities. You should look at the concrete results, like the success rate of the acceleration program or the percentage of startups financed by third party investors, i.e. not by investors anyhow linked with the acceleration program. From these points of view LUISS ENLABS is one of the very first in Europe and in the latest years we have even started partnership in North America like the one with YCombinator. Furthermore, what it must be taken into consideration is the deal: we offer 80k euros investment for a 10% equity and this is an excellent deal.
Q. #5Which are the most common problems you faced in the startups you worked with?
A. The problems an Italian startup usually faces are three: mindset; focus on numbers and results and ability to undersand that many restrictions are not objective. A common error is looking for medium values instead of undestanding that in the startup world things simply work or not.
Q. #6 Which are the concrete results that the startup accelerated in LUISS ENLABS produced?
A. Let us take into consideration the startups participating to the current acceleration program that have reached the third month of the five the program lasts. Filo has already sold as a pre-order almost the double of the devices expected to be sold. In Italy it has sold more than Tile, that last year received a huge crowdfunding and that has not sent the product yet. Instead, Filo will be on the market at the end of this month and we already have investment proposals by business angels. Tutored, that is now in its private beta version, is already the most popular tutoring platform in Rome and is now enetring the market in Milan. They are already invoicing, even further our best expectations. They are also closing partnerships with Airbnb and Spotify and with the Banzai Group portals. Tiassisto24 has just launched the private beta version in six cities and is invoicing for many thousands euros per month.
Q. #7 Which is the contribution given by the advisors to the growth of the startup of LUISS ENLABS?
A. You can just have a look to the names of our board of the advisors to understand how incredible the level is, but they are not just names on a website. They are professionals committed to supporting our startups. Some of them entered the startup and they opened a network. This network has already made possible closing important partnerships in a very short period of time, something unusual in Italy. Furthermore, given that hey are also professionals with their own startups, they are able to better define the startegic plan. Our advisors are investors or very reliable professionals therefore they make the fund raising much more simple. They all have a strong committment to our accelerator life.