Articles for November 2009

The Openfund, Round I: Start-ups Selected

The Openfund is excited to announce its first series of start-ups selected.

After an extensive screening process including various rounds of feedback and advice in between of the initial application, a full business plan and an interview, the procedure completed at the Openfund Launch Day that took place on Saturday, November 21 in Microsoft Innovation Center Athens.

Starting December 1, the teams will now work together with the Openfund towards building their product and launching their services, while receiving seed funding and extensive advice on all things start-up during the following 4 months.

image

Crawdoutis a meeting facilitation service, specifically targeted at recreational sports. Shifting the effort from organizing to participating, Crawdout removes the barriers to arranging sport events, while also helps you to find suitable people to play with and engage with them socially. Miroslav Solanka and Peter Crkon, its passionate founders, come from Slovakia, while they’re now based in Glasgow, UK, where the service will be launched from.

image

YouScan is working on a new service for social media monitoring and reputation management. Aiming at the rapidly growing markets of Russia and Ukraine, YouScan will be providing powerful tools to its customers for tracking, summarizing and reacting to the social-web. The team consists of 3 founders, Alexey Orap, Alexander Demidov and Dimitri Popov, combining knowledge of the local market with business development and technology skills.

image

Listiki is working on an innovative service for organizing and prioritizing online real-time data. The team aims at building an engaging service that changes the way we rank anything on the web. Listiki’s founders are Alex Schleifer, Davina Economou and Constantinos Demetriadis, a very experienced team from Cyprus and Greece.

fashinating[1]

Fashinating is building a platform that presents the latest offerings on the apparel market using an innovative fashion discovery engine and a series of engaging social games. Its services will function as a standalone project, but also as an add-on to online fashion magazines and retailers. Alexios Ballas, Maria-Loukia Tzempelikou and Petros Ziogas comprise the best team on a mission to make Fashinating happen.

Interview day, completed

In a rather complicated Saturday we held our interview day. To give you some insights on what’s happened behind the curtains, let us share here a few more details regarding the procedure.

We managed to perform within a day interviews for all the selected teams, which consisted of any mix of people with physical or virtual presence. We also had to enable partners of ours who reside in different countries to observe and directly interact with the other participants. From a technical perspective, this meant two screens, one for the presentation, one for the video of the participants and of course voice for the interaction.

The participating teams generally belonged to any of these four groups:

  • Entirely psysical, ie teams from Greece, which were requested to be there.
  • Mostly physical, with 1 or 2 members that were participating from abroad.
  • Mostly virtual, with just 1 member presenting live.
  • Entirely virtual, where we had screen sharing, and a voice/video call.

Having performed in this kind of setup for 10 hours and with the entire Executive Board including the participants of each team, I think it’s honest to say that this kind of operation would never be possible outside the confines of a purely tech oriented organization.

Each of the teams got the chance to present and showcase or demo their idea in front of our Board, while also having an extended Q&A session. We are happy with the results, as we believe that, through the initial application, business plan and interview process, we’ve formed a clear view of each one of the applications, enabling what we consider a robust judgement.

That said, the teams securing a ticket to the next phase have been already informed, while we’ll also put time on providing further details to the teams that didn’t make it, trying to improve their value proposition, and chances to succeed in a future Openfund call or elsewhere. Let us also mention that to us, being entrusted with each one of the applications containing your dreams was an honour. We tried hard to repay you for this trust by replying back with reviews of on average 3 times the extent of the original idea submission, from a number of executives and advisors.

For those who succeeded getting that far, we will be working closely overtime to iron out their business plans and demos in order to improve their chances of getting finally selected, while more details on the procedure and the forthcoming selection eevent will follow soon.

A departure from our board

Onic is presently focused on other matters that require his undivided attention. Consequently, he decided to resign from the OpenFund as he cannot devote the time he considers necessary to its affairs.

Onic thanks everyone that has helped-start this much needed ecosystem to Greek entrepreneurs and looks forward to maintaining a relationship with OpenFund’s members in the years to come.

Onic’s resignation was accepted by the executive board in terms of mutual understanding. The board thanks him for his considerable contribution in shaping the Openfund to what it is today, wishes him the best with his endeavors and looks forward to future cooperation.

1st Round of Applications, Progress Update

As we are progressing towards the final selection of start-ups to be given the full benefits of the Openfund, we’d like to share with you a bunch of details, for you to get to grip with our procedures in general or get prepared for the next call of the Openfund.

At first, great effort was put on reviewing all of the proposals submitted. Each one of applications was reviewed by 4 partners on average, while all of the reviews were shared with the applicants, no matter if they proceeded to the next round or not, as we consider such feedback as really valuable for not to share.

Successful applications of this first round was then requested to submit a full business plan, within two weeks. A detailed template was also given, guiding the entrepreneurs for filling up all the details that we consider useful, while leaving out unnecessary paperwork. We consider this template of interest, and at this point we are happy to share it publicly with anyone interested in getting better prepared for our next round of applications, or just having a solid business plan template on hand.

What follows is the interview day, which is to take place on the following Saturday, November 7 and during which the selected teams will present their team and showcase their product, in between Q&A with our full executive board.

Successful applicants of this stage will then be invited to physically attend our start-up day event, and pitch their application to our executive board, investors and advisors, among others. The event will take place on November 21st, out of which up to 5 start-ups will be finally selected, we really look forward to that, while we keep working hard towards making this a meaningful time investment for all of entrepreneurs applied, regardless of finally getting selected or not.

The Openfund – Business Plan Template

Two new partners for the Openfund

Today we are announcing two partnerships that further expand the toolset of skills that our startups can tap into.

The first, is the addition of the the team of CSS3.grdesign experts.

CSS3.gr will work together with the selected start-ups to secure excellent  results from a design and user experience perspective. We really look forward to the results.

To further highlight the impact of our cooperation, we are equally excited to share with you that we are already working with CSS3.gr on a new version of the Openfund website, which is about to be released in the following weeks.

The second is a partnership with the Christopoulos and Associateslaw firm.

Having collaborated with the firm in the past, we are very pleased as they really get information technology, and as such we believe that they will be able to provide better services to the companies that we invest in.

The firm will advise on such issues as intellectual property protection and access, commerce law as well as day to day issues that arise.

As with all partnerships the companies that we invest in retain the right to use or not use the services of our partners. But should they choose to use them, we have secured that these will come at a reduced cost and handled in more friendly terms overall.