INCUBOOSTER - invendor incubation program
If I say summer, many of you might associate it with enjoying the sunshine on the beach, going hiking or having a barbecue at your friends’ backyard. At Invendor (make no mistake, we do enjoy our summer vacations) we found that this time would be perfect to start something exciting. With our 10+ years of track-record working with startups in the CEE, we decided to start our independent 3-month-long incubator program. We kicked-off with four startups, who were dedicated enough to do some serious developments during the summer months.
Let us introduce you the program itself and the main lessons learned from the first batch.
About the incubator
The incubator is based on three main pillars:
Structured and uniquely crafted curriculum that combines the best practices and methodologies used by incubators around the world.
Knowledge-sharing community of startups that provides inspiration, lessons learned, opportunity to grow together and learn from each other.
Personalized mentoring and consulting services that allows each team to get the best out of their time and translate the curriculum into an individual experiment.
It is a 3-month-long program, containing 6 half-day-long workshops.
We start with looking at industry trends, creating vision, and introducing the principles of design thinking, lean experimenting and validation. Firstly we don’t talk about the product/service but go back in time and challenge the problem they focus on solving, and the customer segments they would like to/they currently serve. Teams need to roll their sleeves immediately to do some field work. They get to know how to create, run and learn from lean experiments, that are usually realized in the format of customer interviews, so they learn how to ask the right questions.
After having a validated problem and customer segments, we work on the value propositions and the MVPs (minimum viable product) for each team to continue with the validation.
The second part of the program focuses more on the business models of each startup. We introduce innovative business models from around the world and use tools like Lean Canvas to build their own models. According to Invendor’s main expertise we focus a lot on the financial aspects of the model as well. We build revenue models, introduce sales strategies and cost structures. We do pay a lot of attention to (revenue/cost/sales) metrics that supports growth and development and we believe are essential to track in different industries.
The last part of the program is around investor-readiness. We dig deep in the art of creating investor decks, onepagers and pitching. Also give them the opportunity to try themselves out in a pitching situation with no fuss around but expert feedback.
The first batch - lessons learnt
The first batch of the incubation was attended by four early-stage startups Oneo Systems, Alkubot, Netlife Robotics and Boardingpass.hu. All of them are early-stage, before or right after their first investment round.
Having set several teams around one table and creating discussions around challenges they face are one of the most valuable things an incubator can offer (especially if they are operating in similar industries).
It is worth to move some steps back and question early assumptions, because some of them are usually false. (Like: Do we want to solve a problem that the customers really have? Is it painful enough that they are willing to pay? If not, who will pay?) We challenged some assumptions at each teams’ initial model, that saved them some unnecessary struggles later on. (Here we cannot stress enough the suggestion to try not to fall in love with your idea as it WILL CHANGE during the process.)
There are tons of startup methods that are useful, but it is important to have structure, set milestones, and what matters the most is the real field work you do. Meet customers, ask good questions, learn to fail and reconcept, be able to iterate fast.
Each team has different attitude and need a personalised growth plan. We restrict the number of startups entering our program to a maximum of 6 teams at once as we saw that each team needs their own development plan, experiments to run, strengths and weaknesses.
Even though I attended a very practice-oriented MBA, the incubation helped me and our team to apply the gained knowledge in real life, with our own product. I got to know some new methodologies and the ones that I was already familiar with, like the lean, got real sense. During the phase of product development validation is essential and we found very valuable to have an inspirative environment where they support you in processing the results and drawing conclusions. Overall, we found the incubation very useful for us.
Horváth-Tóth Hajnalka, Oneo System Kft
During our incubation period we have successfully learned how to avoid the common pitfalls of running a startup while learning how to fine-tune our product with the help of the latest best practices.
Kékkői Miklós, Alkubot
MOVING ON - THE SECOND BATCH
With lots of experiences and lessons learnt from the first batch we are ready to continue with a more developed, refined second program, that will start in October 2019. We are waiting for early-stage startups to join us, if you are interested, let us know via e-mail/phone!