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.

Advisors, Advisors, Advisors part II

Persistent in our commitment to maintain a boardof trully commited and active advisors we are happy to announce the participations of several people that have undertaken this responsibility.

In this sprint we have mainly tried to establish more connections with people that hold experience with more practical skills rather than strategy and business positioning.

As always we will keep tending to the pool of available advice. The list of additions is after the jump.

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In order of appearance in our advisors page:

Panayotis Vryonis, Social media consultant – Athens, Greece

Panayotis Vryonis studied Mathematics at the National and Kapodistrian University Of Athens. He decided not to get his degree and instead work as a software developer for small and larger projects. In 1999 he co-founded and held the position of CTO at e-Go Travel Ltd, a company providing on-line travel services for Greek destinations. In 2001 he joined the leading Greek interactive marketing agency, yellownetroad and after the merger of the two companies, became Chief Developer of OgilvyOne Worldwide Athens. An active advocate of Open Source Software, he was one of the founding members of the Hellenic Linux Users Group in 1998 and served multiple times on the Group’s board. He is one of the first Greek bloggers and the first greek podcaster. His greek blog aggregator, called “monitor”, played a key role in the early stages of the Greek blogosphere (2005). Since early 2007, Panayotis Vryonis works as a social media consulting for PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement).

George Gatos, Atlantis Consulting – Thessaloniki, Greece

George Gatos, MSc, studied financing and specialized in entrepreneurship in the UK and the US. He began his career in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation of the University of Florida and later as worked as an external consultant with a primary focus in development of products and services based on new technologies. Today he is employed as a consultant in strategic and entrepreneurial development in Atlantis Consulting.
Evangelos Simoudis, Managing Director, Trident Capital – Palo Alto, CA, US

Evangelos Simoudis joined Trident Capital in 2005 as a Venture Partner and has been a Managing Director since 2007. Evangelos focuses on investments in Internet and Enterprise Software businesses. Prior to Trident, Evangelos spent 5 years as a partner at Apax Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm where he invested and served on the boards of early and mid-stage IT companies. At Apax he also chaired the firm’s IT advisory board. Prior to entering venture capital, Evangelos had more than 20 years experience in high-technology industries, in executive roles spanning operations, marketing, sales and engineering. His experience as a technology executive includes serving as President and CEO of Customer Analytics, a Trident-backed, eCRM company acquired by Xchange, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXAP), and as Vice President of Business Intelligence Solutions at IBM. Evangelos’ current directorships include DesiHits, Hip Digital, Host Analytics and PivotLink Software. Prior directorships include Bristol Technology (acquired by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)), Composite Software, Confluent Software (acquired by Oracle Corporation (Nasdaq: ORCL)), Doppelganger (acquired by Hip Digital), Princeton Softech (acquired by IBM) and Vidavee (acquired by Vignette (NASDAQ: VIGN). Evangelos earned a PhD in computer science from Brandeis University and a BS in electrical engineering from Caltech.

George Papadakis, Co founder Phaistos Networks

George is the Head Of Operations at Phaistos Networks since 1997. Having supervised the implementation of a plethora of web services (Pathfinder.gr, Adman.gr, Trinity.gr among others), he is knowledgeable enough in terms of how to incorporate up-to-date techniques while creating usable and accessible web applications.

 

 

 

Vassilis Sotiropoulos, Lawyer

Vassilis was born in Athens in 1978. He graduated from the Department of Law of the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens and holds a master degree in public law the Department of Law of the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is a PhD Candidate in the field of constitutional law. He runs the blog elawyer.blogspot.com since 2005. He has established in March 2008 the office “Data&Protection-Legal services in the Information Society”. He also blogs at elawyer.blogspot.com.

Alec Karys, CTO, mShopper – Boston, MA, US

Alec Karys is currently the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of mShopper, a company which provides real time price comparison, shopping and ad services over mobile devices, and he is also a Mentor at TechStars in Cambridge, MA. Alec has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, technical team manager and consultant at Amazon.com and various other technology and services companies. He was also co-founder and served as the CEO of Synapse Ventures Group, a virtual incubator, which provided start-up services to early stage technology companies, and Cognate Technologies, an E-Learning company based on patent pending technology from MIT research. Alec received his MBA and Electrical Engineering degrees from Northeastern University and attended the Engineering Executive Program at Stanford University. Alec has two issued patents in medical protocol authoring and delivery, and he has four patents in process in the area of mobile commerce.

Andreas Veneris, founder, Vennsa technologies

Andreas Veneris is the President/CEO of Vennsa Technologies, a company that develops automated solutions to chip debugging and verification. He has 15 years of R&D experience in CAD software for chip debugging, verification, synthesis and test with more than 80 publications and five patents in that field. In addition to these credentials, he was an early member at OnRamp Inc., a pioneering internet multimedia company that went public in 1997. While at OnRamp, he was a member of the team that performed the first webcast ever (37th Annual Grammy Awards, 1995), an event acknowledged by members of the American Congress. He also worked in the early development stages of Mosaic (later Netscape) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (Illinois). His operating experience is complemented by extensive experience in team building and technology transfer. As an associate professor at the University of Toronto and the Athens University of Economics and Business, he managed a large group of R&D activities and delivered them to the industry with specialized in-house tools. His multi-million R&D proect raising effort has attracted funds from premier semiconductor companies in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Prior to that, he was a visiting faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he also obtained his Ph.D. in 1998 in Computer Science. He holds an M.Sc. degree from the University of Southern California (1992) and a Bachelor degree from the University of Patras (1991). He is a senior member of IEEE, ACM, AAAS, Technical Chamber of Greece, Professional Engineers of Ontario and The Planetary Society and he has co-authored two books.

Nikos Kryvossidis, Director, Partnership Services, EMEA, Google

Nikos joined Google in 2007. At present he is responsible for the technical side of direct Google partnerships in EMEA for various Google product areas including Mobile. Prior to Google Nikos was Engineering SVP for Visto, an American company specialising in Mobile Email and Personal Information Management (PIM) synchronisation. Has also served in Symbian where he was responsible for Messaging, PIM, SyncML, Browsing and Location Based Services. Earlier on worked for Lucent Technologies in the area of ISUP and ISDN Services. Has also worked as a software engineer on Intelligent Network Services (Nortel) when AIN 0.1 and CS1 were being developed. Nikos holds an MSc in Computer Science from McGill University, Montreal and a BSc in Mathematics from University of Patras, Greece.

Vasilis Vassalos, Associate Professor, Athens University of Business and Economics

Vasilis Vassalos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Informatics at the Athens University of Economics and Business. Between 1999 and 2003 he was an Assistant Professor of Information Technology at the NYU Stern School of Business. He has been working on the challenges of online processing of data from autonomous sources since 1996. He has published more than 35 research papers in international conferences and journals, holds 2 US patents for work on information integration, and regularly serves on the program committees of the major conferences in databases. He was a co-founder and CTO of Enosys Software, a pioneering data integration company that raised more than $10 million in VC funding and was acquired by BEA Systems (now Oracle Corp). He has led a number of publicly-funded research projects in the areas of online distributed information processing. Ηe was a Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellow in 2007-2008 visiting UCSD.

First Round of Applications Concluded – Some Insights

We are happy to report that our first round of applications concluded successfully on September 30. We received a broad set of ideas spanning in a number of areas, from a large number of teams across the globe.

Here you may find some charts summarizing the origin of these ideas, regarding the people behind them, their location and skills.

As expected, the biggest number of applications was submitted during the last days of the call.

Submissions per date

57% of submissions originated from Greece, while applicants came from 20 countries in total, 15 out of which were European ones. The map below reveals more details.

Global map of submissions

Of special interest is also the distribution of skills, as reported by the applicants themselves. The following graph provides details on their technical, financial, business and educational background. A rating of 1 denotes the most basic command of said skills, ranging to 5 being the highest, eg. a PhD in education or having sold a company in business.

Distribution of skills

To us, the challenge starts now. Following our tight schedule, we have already started reviewing the great amount of applications received, while we are willing to share our detailed reviews with all the teams submitted. We are also looking forward to work closely with the best of the teams, to help them further mature their proposals, prepare their business plans and finally shape a more than appealing offering.

And for those of you who for whatever reason could not submit your idea in this round, you can still prepare it for the next submission deadline which is due in a few months’ time – it’s closer than it seems!

The Openfund stands for bringing significant added value to all of its participants, and we are really excited to see our vision taking shape. What follows is pure hard work to meet all of our targets, stay tuned for more information about our progress and more.

The Schedule Ahead

With one more week before the submission deadline, it is time to share our detailed schedule for the next couple of months, for our applicants and partners to book early and get properly prepared.

Specific dates and details follow:

– September 30: Submission deadline for applications

– October 14: Notification of rejection or acceptance for the interview phase

– October 27: Submission deadline for business plans

– November 7: Interview date

– November 8: Notification of acceptance for the final presentation phase

– November 21: Start-up day, presentations

– December 1: Incubation starts

In greater detail, successful applicants of the first phase will be invited to submit a lightweight business plan, and also prepare for an interview. A detailed template for the business plan will be provided, to secure the minimum amount of information required and ease the process. The interviews consist of a brief presentation, followed by an extended Q&A session with the Openfund executives. Applicants who succeed in this phase will eventually be invited to pitch their ideas to a wider audience, including Openfund executives, investors, advisors and other selected participants. At the end of this day, up to 5 applications will be invited to participate in the Openfund.

It is clear, we expect the following weeks to be pretty hectic, and we look forward to delivering significant added value through these processes to all of the participants.

Submission deadline – 2 weeks to go

As you already know, the deadline for you to submit your application is fast approaching. September 30 is the final date to submit your application or to make any corrections to an existing submission (the last version will be the final).

With only two weeks remaining for our submissions deadline, and while we have already put our hands on the applications submitted so far, the results are more than encouraging. Already a significant number of ideas have poured in with a substantial fraction being from around the world – most notably Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Most submissions are closely aligned with the core concepts the Openfund stands for: innovation, global market focus and of course entrepreneurship in software, the internet and mobile. We expect the remaining ones to be improved towards the right direction, as early senders have received detailed feedback on ways in which to improve their submissions.

Closing we’d like to repeat that applicants should not hesitate to submit as much information as possible regarding their idea, its current status and their team. Ideally, all aspects of the project should be described clearly along with any figures and other details outlining the market it’s aimed at. Other than that, any prototypes, working demos or videos of the project can (and should!) accompany the proposal.

Building a strong team that can flex in whatever direction the incubation period takes us, is also critical to our evaluation grid. Any relevant information (previous achievements, work experience, type of background – all well summarized) is very important to us, and can be substituted only by a well put together Linked-In or similar profile. We also encourage you to send us a link of yourselves in video pitching the idea – that would definitely give you an edge over other submissions!

We wish you the best of luck, rest assured that we are working towards making this a reality.

Applying tips

As the applications are already pouring in, we’d like to use them as a starting point with which to provide some feedback to others who plan to apply.

1. Don’t try to impress us, try to inform us and try to make us understand what your project is about. Avoid the buzzwords and basically try to explain your idea as you would to a friend. That should do it. Although we’re also interested to the effect your idea willl have, it’s more important to have a clear and tangible image of what exactly your product will be. This is especially important for applications without a prototype or a mockup.

2. Be sure to make clear what the advantages of your idea and implementation are compared to the competition. Remember we’re talking about global-market businesses and there has to be a competitive advantage. If there isn’t, you probably have to convince us by substituting it with something else.

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3. The team matters. Make sure to tell us if you’ve worked together before and if not how the skills of one member combine with the rest to create a sum that’s more than adequate for the project to succeed. Significant achievements in the past, track record details and background information on the individuals (and if applicable) to the team too will all get you points – even if your idea is not that good. Ideas (especially those that have not been implemented yet) evolve and improve much faster and more easily than people, so if you have tha latter right the former will be no problem.

4. It doesn’t matter if your project seems difficult and like going against impossible odds. As long as you realise the difficulties and have reasonable plans of overcoming them, don’t limit yourselves to already existing solutions and easy problems. Remember, it’s all about the internet (and as such global, borderless market), innovation and creating something that will be useful – the rest (including revenue) will follow.

And what about those that have already submitted? Isn’t this kind of late to tell them all this advice? Well no, because in order to ensure a high quality of submissions to choose from we’d like to engage with applicants from even before they are selected. As such for a limited time, certain applicants (i.e. those that apply early) will enjoy the benefit of receiving some feedback regarding their application. The feedback’s extent and the time we’ll take to reply will vary but we’ll make every effort to provide valuable advice. The deadline for this ‘early-bird’ feedback is September 5.

Will this provide an unfair advantage to those that apply later and have had no chance for feedback? Well, there’s nothing stopping people from applying early and then improving their submission by reapplying with it later. Just denote in the form that this is a reapplication and your newer version will replace the old one. Simple as that. Now, go apply.

Advisors, Advisors, Advisors!

True to our commitment of setting up a more than capable Board of Advisors on all things start-up, we are announcing today the updated list, featuring a set of experts that we consider exceptional.

You’ll find among them people with rock solid experience and world class expertise on topics ranging from technology and business development to finance, marketing and legal issues, among others, all waiting to help out great start-ups take shape and prosper.
The list remains far from final, actually more advisors are to be added in a continuous basis, but still we do believe that -together with the Executive Board– it already provides a sound and sufficient basis to back what is considered our core offering: Advice. The full list follows right after the jump:

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  1. Andreas Acavalos, ex-General Manager, Price Waterhouse Coopers Consulting – Athens, Greece
  2. George Achillias, Marketing and Communication Strategist – London, UK
  3. Nicholas Ampazis, Assistant Professor at the University of the Aegean, Entrepreneur – Chios, Greece
  4. Nikos Anagnostou, Entrepreneur, Blogger – Athens, Greece
  5. Dimitris Andreadis, Software Engineering Manager, JBoss Application Server, Red Hat – Athens, Greece
  6. Nikos Anerousis, Head of Service Engineering Research, IBM – New York City, NY, US
  7. Tasso Argyros, co-founder & CTO, Aster Data Systems – San Francisco, CA, US
  8. Mike Butcher, editor, Techcrunch Europe – London, UK
  9. Andreas Constantinou, Research Director, Vision Mobile – London, UK
  10. Yannis Dosios, VP of Marketing, Smilebox – Seattle, WA, US
  11. Aristos Doxiadis, Managing Director, Notos Associate – Athens, Greece
  12. Ioannis Emiris, Professor, Department of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens – Athens, Greece
  13. Charris Ermopoulos, Software Engineer, Google File System, Google – Mountain View, CA, US
  14. Dimitris Glezos, Founder, Indifex – Patras, Greece
  15. Andrew Hyde, Community Director, Techstars – Boulder, CO, US
  16. Panos Ipeirotis, Assistant Professor, Stern School of Business NYU – New York City, NY, US
  17. Dimosthenis Kaponis, Entrepreneur, Cosmical Technology – Athens, Greece
  18. Petros Katsampouris, CEO, Vivechrom – Athens, Greece
  19. Alex Kombogiannis, CEO and founding partner of mpGreek – New York City, NY, US
  20. Arda Kutsal, Entrepreneur & business adviser – Istanbul, Turkey
  21. John Lovitt, former SVP Rational/IBM, Investor – Mountain View, CA, US
  22. Aggelos Maglis, CEO, Atlantis Consulting – Thessaloniki, Greece
  23. Patrick Malone, CTO Microsoft Hellas – Athens, Greece
  24. Andy McLoughlin, Co-founder and Product Director, Huddle – London, UK
  25. Ioannis Methodios, ex-CEO, Accenture Greece – Athens, Greece
  26. Nikos Moraitakis, Head of Strategy, Upstream Systems – Athens, Greece
  27. George Moschovitis, Serial web entrepreneur – Athens, Greece
  28. John Nousis, Serial Web Entrepreneur – Athens, Greece
  29. Yorgos Panzaris, Researcher, Entrepreneur – Athens, Greece
  30. George Saliaris-Fasseas, Country Manager, Google – Athens, Greece
  31. Diomidis Spinellis, Professor, Athens University of Economics & Business – Athens, Greece
  32. Christos Tsangos, CEO, Microsoft Hellas – Athens, Greece
  33. Stefanos Vasdekis, Serial Web Entrepreneur – Athens, Greece
  34. Ioannis Vasilaras, Ex-CEO, Infote – Athens, Greece
  35. Marco Veremis, Chairman, Upstream Systems – Athens, Greece
  36. Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Serial web entrepreneur – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Call for Proposals is now open !

The Openfund has launched – we are now accepting proposals! Feel free to check the various sections of our main website for details regarding the Openfund’s operation – and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us!