Being stuck at home is a strange situation for EIT Digital’s Thomas Koesters, who used to travel around Europe’s start-up scene.
Normally, he would now be out promoting the EIT Digital Venture Programme for early-stage entrepreneurial teams from CEE, the Baltics and Southern Europe.
Thomas, in the current situation, how can you run a Europe-wide start-up programme?
Well, the international scope of the programme was the very reason why we adopted a largely virtual acceleration approach since its inception. For the third consecutive year, the EIT Digital Venture Programme helps ambitious entrepreneurs from 20 countries in CEE, Baltics and Southern Europe to start their company. You can’t have such a broad reach without using virtual methods – our mentors and coaches have always been working online with the founders, in intensive one-to-one and group sessions. Only the bootcamps and final pitch days were offline events. Now we are prepared to have them online too.
You sound optimistic. Will everything run smoothly?
Founders are adaptive to new situations – their main interest is to get their idea off the ground, build their minimum viable product and contribute to change the world for the best. The whole program is designed to avoid as much as possible distractions and let the teams concentrate on their work. The good thing is, we and our local partners have already gathered the right mentors and coaches, so we can hit the road running, also without busy physical networking events.
But is this a good time to start a company?
Personally, I think so, absolutely. We can see an acceleration of trends that tech companies will continue to benefit from. From e-commerce to cloud-based enterprise software – the demand and need for digital solutions in business and every-day life is dramatically increasing.
What about investors? Will they keep on investing?
Short answer: We do! We provide up to EUR 25 000 to founders who manage to kick-off their company in a few-months time. In my opinion, investors who slow down their investment speed now risk missing opportunities.
By the way: the current situation is paradoxically creating a more level-playing field. Right now, it doesn’t really matter if your start-up is in Silicon Valley or in Athens – everyone is pitching online.
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