INTERVIEWS

Uplift Organizers: The Goal Is to Help Founders Build Successful Innovative Companies

Uplift Accelerator

The third round of Uplift accelerator is knocking on the door, so we asked the organizers Peter Kolesar (Partner at CIVITTA) and Brano Smidt (Co-Founder and Director at Impact HUB Bratislava) for the details on the goals, participants, mentors, and much more.

If your question isn’t covered here, be sure to join the Uplift Accelerator – Bratislava Meetup on Sept 12, 2019.

Or apply right away here.

What is the goal of Uplift? What needs to happen for you as the organizers to say “Yes, it was worth it”?

Peter Kolesar (PK): Our goal is to help founders build successful innovative companies. We believe that this can be done by creating an intimate setting where founders can learn from each other, as well as from more experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, experts, and investors.

We know that Central Europe has the potential, but we need to provide more systematic support to founders to increase the quantity and quality of startups. We see the Uplift accelerator as a joint effort of Civitta Slovakia and Impact HUB Bratislava and tens of partners, mentors, investors, volunteers participating and supporting the program with the aim to put Bratislava on the startup map of Europe.

What kind of startups do you expect to apply?

Brano Smidt (BS): Uplift is for teams that have the vision to create real impact in their industries. Last year, we had applicants from 12 countries. Our primary focus is on Urban Innovation (e.g. smart city, mobility, clean-tech, health) and Blockchain, but we will accept all innovative and perspective startups with high potential.

All startups have an equal chance to apply, qualify and succeed in Uplift.

What stage should they be in? What criteria will be applied for startups to get an invitation into the program? How many of them are you taking on board?

PK: We are looking for startups with an MVP and some traction such as first customers, partners, subscribers.

BS: You should have the potential to build and scale your business also internationally. We will be taking onboard 10-15 startups.

UPLIFT organizers - Brano Smidt from Impact Hub and Peter Kolessr from Civitta
Uplift organizers – Brano Smidt from Impact Hub (left) and Peter Kolesar from Civitta

What can startups expect from the program in terms of growth, e.g. when compared their actual stage with what comes by the end of the program?

PK: Growing and developing the business is the responsibility of the founders. Our role is to provide a supportive, but also a challenging environment to reach their goals. This could be finding the right product-market fit, getting ready for investment, finding first large costumers, or growing revenues and teams.

BS: Each team receives a business coach who works with the team on a one-to-one basis more often and basically leads the startup through the whole program to ensure progress and maximum value. Typically, they set the goals and focus areas at the beginning, work and follow up on them regularly.

Can you share some of the mentor names that will be supporting the startups?

BS: This year, we have more than 50 mentors and industry experts. To mention some, there is Michal Nespor from Crowdberry, Boris Zeleny from NKB, Marry MacPherson from Slovak-American Foundation, Jaro Luptak from Neulogy Ventures, Juraj Svinčák from meet’n’learn, Marek Mihok from Combyne.

On top of that, we have experts from Credo, Day One Capital, IPM, Startup Campus, and other local and international mentors ready to help startups in Uplift.

Peter and I will be also supporting startups during the whole program.

In the PR release, you say that “startups will compete for the chance to get a minimum of EUR 200,000 in investment from Crowdberry”. Does it mean the winning startup will get the investment in exchange for a share in a company?

PK: Uplift does not invest in companies directly. However, if you participate in Uplift, you have a chance to secure 200k+ EUR investment through our investment partners Crowdberry and NKB – Blockchain Investment Bank.

BS: There is also a 10K EUR cash prize for the best team.

Participants from outside Bratislava will have the costs of the stay covered. How is the program built in terms of schedule and requirements for the participants – is it a full-time initiative, or the workshops take place in the evenings, etc.?

PK: Yes, thanks to our partner Slovak-American Foundation, we can help Slovak companies outside of Bratislava to cover part of their costs associated with relocation or commuting. The program requires at least 2 days a week in Bratislava for a minimum of 1 and maximum of 3 company representatives (preferably CEO/CTO). Many founders are from other countries and rotate during the program.

BS: During a typical week, you will have a 4-hour group session on Tuesday afternoon covering the most essential topics. Wednesdays are dedicated to individual mentoring and coaching. On Wednesdays, we also organize networking events, inspiration talks by successful entrepreneur or investors, and other specialized workshops.

Some individual mentoring sessions can also take place during different days of the week, or even virtually, based on the availability of mentors and startups.

What’s the deadline and where can startups apply?

BS: Registration is open at www.uplift.sk until Sept 30th 2019.

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