Applications for our 7th overall accelerator round are now open. Applications will close ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th.
The focus for StartupYard 2016, Round 2, will be Data. Data has been called “the new oil,” and like oil in the 19th century, we have just begun to scratch the surface of what new applications for the sea of data that is now being created every day. We will be seeking startups who can manage, learn from, secure, produce and build trust in data and digital transactions.
StartupYard is especially focused on providing value for Central and Eastern European startups, but that does not exclude startups from anywhere else in the world. Applications will close on September 30th, 2016, with acceleration set to begin in November.
Security and Trust
As the world continues to produce vast troves of data, at an ever accelerating rate, innovations in keeping that data secure, and out of the hands of profiteer hackers, authoritarian governments, and unethical corporations is increasingly vital. In the past year alone, high profile data breaches, government overreach into private lives, and corporate greed for more control over consumers have become near daily headlines. But the data gold rush is not going to slow down.
We need, now more than ever before, a new generation of digital security tools and services to ensure that each of us remains the master of our own lives and thoughts. That is why StartupYard invested and accelerated in the mobile data security startup TeskaLabs last year, and why TeskaLabs went on to raise nearly 400K Euros in financing, and was accepted to TechStars London.
Today, the world’s two top data security firms are based in Czechia, along with a host of new security startups, making this the ideal region for innovative new security startups. What’s more, an evolution in the startup ecosystem is needed to create a new framework for trust in the digital economy. Technological progress is now widely seen as contrary to the interests of society and individuals, precisely because, as we have learned, institutions, corporations, and governments have lost many of their former claims on the public’s implicit trust.
When we talk about trust, we are of course talking about blockchain technology. Demand is rising fast for an accountable internet, and today’s solution is the public ledger, which many see as the most important evolution of the internet in our time. The internet will change dramatically within the next few years: trust will be even more essential in e-commerce, in restoring faith in public institutions, and in making the world a more peaceful, free, and prosperous place.
We seek startups that share our belief in a future that we must work hard to build. We must face these challenges with honesty and regard for decency. That is why we at StartupYard are leveraging our experience to make trust and security core elements of our next accelerator round, and will focus on startups that emphasize individual rights and freedoms, as well as the public’s security and liberty.
IoT and Big Data
Much of the new ocean of data that is being generated is coming not from our emails and YouTube videos, but from The Internet Of Things (IoT). As the world fills up with sensors and data collection nodes, connecting and making sense of the data these nodes generate is becoming an ever more important business in its own right. And this is the reason YSoft, a major player in IoT and distributed manufacturing technology, along with other companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Google, have built close working relationships with StartupYard as mentors, and early partners for our IoT and Data driven startups. Our investors now also include leading tech VC firms like Credo Ventures and Rockaway Capital
These partnerships, among others, helped Gjirafa.com, now a leading search service and ad-network in Southern Europe, to launch in 2014, and gain funding this year.
Just as it took ancient peoples millennia to learn to work with new metals, and centuries for scientists to learn how to manipulate chemical compounds, then elements, then atoms themselves, it will now take a massive innovative effort to build systems and tools for managing unprecedented amounts of new information. Members of corporations like GoodData, Google, and Microsoft, among many others, mentor with StartupYard because they understand that the next big leap will mostly likely come from tiny startups who can move fast, and break rules.
Machine learning and Prediction
And like the ancient people who used rock to mine copper, then made bronze to mine lead, and used lead to smelt steel, innovation today is not just in collecting more and more data. In the very near future -and in many respects this is happening already- we will create a new species of machine intelligences that will do with all this new data what we can only imagine doing ourselves, and soon, things which we cannot imagine on our own.
SY Alum Neuron Soundware’s “digital brain,” which was recently named Vodafone Foundation’s “Napad Roku” (Idea of the Year), is just one such example. Neuron Soundware entered StartupYard with the core of an idea -that a digital brain could learn to manipulate and understand sound in a new way- and today is poised to change the way that car manufacturers, 3D Printer makers, call centers, and a host of other industries do business.
Automation comes with disruption, but it also comes with new opportunities. Yesterday’s bank teller is today’s mortgage advisor. Yesterday’s typesetter is today’s web designer. So we are looking for startup founders with the ambition to bring the world something it has never truly known before: a species of mind that can free us to focus on more important work. Moreover, we are looking for startup founders who will bring a unique vision for the future of data and IoT; looking not just at present needs, but at future possibilities.
And before we get apocalyptic, we will note this too: our aim is, and always will be, to make the world around us a safer, happier, better place for people. We seek startups who want to build a future in which machines work for people with faith and dedication, where data frees us, rather than confining or controlling us, and where corporations and governments work towards our common interests, rather than for their interests alone.
StartupYard’s investors, mentor community, partners, and team are connected, experienced, and dedicated to innovation in all of the above fields.
We welcome you to join us in this effort. Your startup may be key to the next major evolution in data. and we look forward to your applications.