I did not hesitate long. But I did hesitate.
An accelerator’s success depends first and foremost on the potential of the companies it helps to grow. We’ll either find amazing teams or we will not. The main parameter here is that our application forms are opening for 6 weeks starting…. Today. This means I had 3 weeks to get settled into this position, and will have 6 weeks, starting now, to recruit the best candidates for the accelerator. One thing’s for sure, if we find those hands-on entrepreneurs who combine business sense with uniquely great ideas, they will gain some fantastic knowledge during our 3 Months Acceleration Program. Still, 9 weeks (including 2 weeks of holidays), is an insanely short period of time in which to accomplish anything like this.
However, when the Board of StartupYard told me that Seznam.cz was opening part of its proprietary search technology for the future teams, they piqued my interest even more. Suddenly we have one of the only companies in the world that is still #1 in search in its home country against Google, and they’re going to let founders build products on top of processed web data that they will collect and prepare. By providing this level of abstraction, new connections and services can be imagined within these data. It’s all down to the creativity of the founders to come up with some kick-ass business ideas. Who could say no? The second thing that interest me was that StartupYard had decided to become a specialized accelerator. From now on, every new batch of companies will all belong to a vertical segment of the IT industry. This year, thanks to Seznam.cz, it will be Data (with Search and Analytics underlying Data). That’s why this data sandbox they will make available is so interesting if you are working in these fields. Future rounds will include mobile games, payments, etc…
The Name of the Game: Data
By specializing, we aim at bringing together European teams all working on similar Data problems. Our mentors work or have worked on Data projects in companies like GoodData, Google, Yahoo, IBM, Ericsson or Seznam. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for the selected founders to learn from talented specialists. By specialising, we also hope to foster cooperation between the teams. For this reason I wanted to make sure it will be an easy decision for anybody not living in Prague to join the program. Therefore, StartupYard will offer, for the first time:
- 3 months of free accommodations in Prague
- Free lunch
This is important to me. It should not cost founders money to join an accelerator. Period. If he has cash, he should use it to sustain himself while he is developing his business, or invest it directly in his company. I moved to Prague to start a business 9 years ago and I never regretted it. I want to make that decision an easy one for the next generation.
We’ll See You in Prague
I’ve been mentoring at StartupYard for 2 years now. Not all years were equal, but it is a great start-up in itself, and Prague is the best capital city in Europe. Bar none. I hope we will be able to attract some fantastic founders with brilliant ideas and give them all the knowledge and support they need to thrive. I know how exhilarating growth and success is, and how hard failure can be. I have experienced a lot working 17 years as a start-up founder and CEO. I will make sure they are ready for all of it. Applications are now open, and will stay open until January 31st, 2014. If you are working on anything related to Data, Search or Analytics, you should really check us out! We look forward to seeing you in Prague this spring.
About Cedric Maloux
Cedric Maloux, originally of Paris, has been in the startup world for nearly 20 years. He sold his first company in 2000, and has raised capital from the top VCs in Europe. He served as CEO of Geewa, a struggling Czech gaming company, and turned it into one of the top 10 developers for Facebook, with Pool Live Tour. He’s an avid poker player and recently launched an app for poker bankroll management. He has lived in Prague for nearly a decade. Cedric has been a mentor at StartupYard for over two years, and was invited by the Board of Directors this past fall to take the reins as CEO.