On 9-10 April, most of MY-GATEWAY team was in Prague to take active part in the first of three Access2Finance conferences. Those conferences are organized during important startup events in Czech Republic, Slovenia and Romania and are open to the attendees of such event.
In the case of Prague, Czech Invest organized the conference on finance during Startup World Cup & Summit, a great one-day event which drew hundrends of prospective investors and over 350 startups from over 50 countries. 12 of those startups were in the running for the European prize ($500,000) which was won by Milmbly, a Swedish startup which aims to change the way we use water in the household.
The second Access2Finance conference will be held during PODIM, in Maribor, 21-22 May, and the third Access2Finance will be held during the iCEE fest in Bucharest, 13-14 June. So, pencil those dates down on your agenda!
Here I just wanted to summarise for you what the speakers who came to Prague taught us in such little time. From the moment they started speaking you could tell their passion and expertise.
We met a representative from Keiretsu forum CEE, the world’s largest network of angel investors. They put special emphasis on understanding the meaning of smart money and the recurring problem of lack of focus, not knowing who your audience are, focusing too much on the product and not on the sales.
Mila Felcarek, JaGK Capital Partners, showed us an overview of the US startup ecosystem and shared with us some tips on how to prepare for local investors.
Matt Kuppers, Founder and CEO of Startup Manufactory, explained how to raise seed-investment in the UK and gave some practical tips on what type of information investors need (eg. Facts, sales figures, business model, team, etc). the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme were also mentioned as ways of getting early stage funding.
Anna Richtrova, Fundlift associate, brought us on a journey towards the meaning of crowdfunding (the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a project or business venture, just in case you needed some reminding!) and its different types: equity-based, lending based, donation based and reward based.of course Fundlift can also help financing your business, hence why I encourage you to get in touch with Anna should you be interested in knowing more.
Cedric Maloux runs an accelerator, Startup Yard, in Prague. Its acceleration programme runs 3 months where on month 1 the startup will be lead through the intricate concepts of business development, marketing and investment amongst others. On month 2 the startup will move on improving certain skills which will lead to month 3: fund raising. You finish your acceleration journey when you have found customers, investment, employees and whatever you may need.
Bruno Vandegehuchte, Scaleups.eu, described very accurately and hands-on how to attract investors and how to approach them. From how to get noticed, to how to select your partner, get meetings (apparently is always better with an intro, avoid cold emailing) and some advice on how to pitch. He also mentioned a yearly event at Scaleups.eu run called Startups Supernova, which brings together almost 200 investors.
Havel and partners, once a startup themselves, are now a very important legal firm in Prague. They can provide you with a practical guide on how to establish a business. Specialized on the legal framework for entering the Czech Republic and establishing a business in Czech, they can tell you how to protect your idea by showing you the way amongst patents, utility models, industrial designs, copyright and trademark!
The Czech–Moravian guarantee and Development bank, Czech Entrepreneurs partner, was represented by Petr Krupa, marketeer. In the presentation Petr made it clear to us that SMEs are vital for the Czech market as they represent 99.8% of all businesses.
Petr showed us some support methods such as the Key National Programme GUARANTEE 2015-2023 which can give loans of up to 123.000€ without having to pay any interest later; or the bright new
INFIN Funding of Innovative Projects for which applications have been open since 15th April. Another loan is EXPANZE, which helps businesses with loans of up to 45% of the project cost at either the very beginning of the project or later on. In any case, no interest will be added.
Whether your SMEs or large company focuses on the utilization of renewable sources leading to energy savings, you can also apply for specific loans.
The next Access 2 Finance conference will be happening next week during PODIM in Slovenia. Stay tuned as we’ll tweet live about it! Check out the programme here: https://www.podim.org/en-us/program