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StartupYard Invites 9 Startups for 2016 Accelerator

We’re very pleased to announce that after an intensive screening process that whittled the over 300 applications to StartupYard 2016’s open call down to only 19 Startup Day participants, we have now selected and invited 9 startups to join us for the 2016 accelerator program.

19 teams attended Startup Day, a two day event in which the startups pitched, and met with a group of mentors, and the StartupYard team. They also heard from Mergim Cahani, CEO and Co-Founder of one of StartupYard’s major successes, Kosovo’s Albanian language search platform Gjirafa. Mergim spoke about Gjirafa’s recent successes, explosive growth, and the role of StartupYard in his success, both during and after acceleration.

A Diverse Group

As we noted recently, this year gave us the most geographically diverse group of applicants we have ever had. Among the finalists at Startup Day were entrepreneurs from The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, India, the UK, Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, and Romania. Among the 9 teams selected for StartupYard 2016, are Czech, Swiss, Polish, Bulgarian, and UK teams.
Startup Day, StartupYard

There are surprises and unexpected outcomes every year in the StartupYard selection process. This year is no exception. No less than 3 travel startups will join us at Node5 for 3 months of acceleration- an outcome we could not have predicted, but a testament to how much technology is now disrupting travel around the world. We will also welcome our first health startup, our first sharing economy startup, and our first “neural networks” focused team. Also for the first time, we have accepted two teams focused on exciting new advertising technology.

How We Select Teams For StartupYard

StartupYard Startup Day

Mergim Cahani, Founder and CEO of Gjirafa, spoke to Startups about the StartupYard experience

19 finalists joined us at Node5 last week, in a marathon session involving pitching, individual meetings, and conversations with the StartupYard team, investors, and a select group of mentors.

As always, each member of the selection committee had their own views on each startup, and each had their favorites, but the final decision to invite each of the 9 companies we have selected was arrived at by consensus. We believe in every one of these companies, and their potential to succeed globally.

As we’ve said frequently, both to our applicants and to the mentors who participate in our selection process, StartupYard is not a contest, and there are no losers at Startup Day. Each of the applicants impressed us and managed to convince us in different ways. Most of the applicants have the potential, and the ambition, to raise successful companies that have a positive impact on many people.

So when we decide not to accelerate a particular company, that isn’t necessarily because we don’t believe they can succeed. We often think that they can and will.

StartupDay StartupYard

But we have to also consider whether a startups wants to be, and can be, the kind of company that will be a smart investment for StartupYard, in terms of time, money, and energy from our team, our mentors, and our investors. We only succeed when our startups grow and expand globally, so no matter how interesting a team and their idea is, it has to have the ambition to be that kind of globally scalable company.

There is nothing wrong with companies that want to be influential and disruptive on the local level. But these companies would benefit less from our help, and would be pushed in a direction that they don’t necessarily want to go. We can’t be the main drivers of ambition for a startup, so that vision of the future has to come built in.

Names to be Released in February

Startup Day

As in previous rounds, StartupYard will release the names, web pages, and descriptions of each of our 2016 Startups sometime in February of 2016. While several of these companies have products on the market, and some are already generating revenue, we don’t discuss startups until they have had a month of intense mentoring in our program, and they are thoroughly ready to talk about their future plans.

By then, we’ll be ready to roll out detailed interviews with each company, and an in-depth look at each of their future plans. Stay Tuned!