Two Startup Wise Guys accelerator programs have come to a close in Riga - the SaaS batch 10, as well as the first ever fintech program in cooperation with Swedbank.
In an unprecedented case, Startup Wise Guys simultaneously held two accelerator programs in Riga, Latvia. One, the 10th consecutive SaaS program housed in the Teikums coworking space, and the other, the first dedicated fintech program, held in cooperation with Swedbank at the main Swedbank Central Building, "Saules Akmens".
Each accelerator program lasted for 3 months. Startups in each program met more than 100 mentors and coaches. The fintech program benefitted from even more mentors, as over 50 mentors came from Swedbank - from various countries and expertise, starting with digital banking, data security, and APIs, and ending with marketing.
During the program, many world-class mentors came to Riga to mentor the Startup Wise Guys teams. While in the region, they usually mentor and coach other startups in special side-events or individual mentoring sessions, unrelated to Startup Wise Guys. It is unmistakably a benefit to the local startup ecosystem to have a player such as Startup Wise Guys who brings in world-class talent, as the whole ecosystem benefits from the experience, talent, and international standards.
"Regarding mentors, was great to see some recurring mentoring from people, who first tried it with the previous program in Riga. Both accelerator programs also attracted more than 20 new mentors from Latvia, who got their first mentoring experience with us." - Zane Bojare, Startup Wise Guys
Nineteen startups graduated from the two programs, which is one short of the original 20 that set out in the beginning. Zane Bojāre highlights that this is not uncommon, as not all startups are able to complete the high workload or encounter team issues along the way.
Within the program, the startups visited many events within the region, thereby representing Riga and Latvia. These included The Next Web, Latitude59, Arctic 15, as well as special events in Swedbank Stockholm headquarters for the Fintech batch.
It may be too early to asses the success of the startups and the accelerator programs they participated in, however there are some factors that can be considered as indicators. During the startup Demo Days, each startup demonstrated their achievements over the program, and many demonstrated considerable traction. It would be reasonable to assume that without the three-month intensive program, mentoring, and networks made available, many of the startups wouldn't have achieved such results in such a short period of time.
- 5 startups from the fintech batch launched their products during the accelerator
- some of the SaaS batch also launched or piloted in Latvia
- Simporter reached an impressive $10K MRR (monthly recurring revenue)
- other teams onboarded their first paying customers
- over 3 teams got their first customers outside of their home markets, thus scaling and also internationalizing
On average, 1/3 of teams pivot during an accelerator. Startup Wise Guys emphasizes that in the early stage, the program is much more about the founders and team than about the business idea or the product.
During the two programs in 2018 there were some partial pivots, as well as a full pivot by Latvian startup Motivio (entered the accelerator as Cafepay.lv).
Some noteworthy cases from the Batch 10 SaaS accelerator:
- SmartVent, the office climate automation system, has begun a pilot with Hanner Real Estate, who happen to be the administrators of the Teikums coworking space where Batch 10 was hosted, and are considering a pilot with Swedbank
- CostPocket, the receipt tracking app is being translated into Latvian and looking for Latvian businesses to onboard
- Lovat, the VAT compliance platform, has hired a local sales person and marketing agency
- PomodoneApp, the productivity app, has partnered with Luxafor, and has fully pivoted to B2B
Noteworthy achievements from the fintech batch:
- Currencii, the currency trading platform, has launched their product and already have their first customer requests from Latvia
- PiggyMind, the personal finance mico-savings platform has 500 users on their waiting list waiting for the product to launch
- JetBeep, the mobile wallet platform, have achived their first Baltic custmers, thereby taking the first steps towards internationalization
- PayTipTop, the touch-and-pay collection box, have created a working prototype from an idea in just three months.
- PayQin, the virtual credit/debit card for African markets is about to launch, with a 2,500 large waiting list to back it up
Many of the startups have chosen to stay in Riga after the closing of the accelerators. Some of which will continue to reside in the DoBe Swedbank premises, which have now been opened to innovative startups. Application for residence can be done here.