Is it just me, or is everyone and their mother talking about startup accelerators these days? I seriously feel like we’re in some kind of Paul Graham era. Y Combinator-made startups like Dropbox, Xobni, Loopt, AirBnB, WePay, etc. have gotten all kinds of attention and similar programs seem to be popping up all over the place, even in London.
When I asked Graham, he didn’t seem necessarily sure if the Y Combinator model would work outside of Silicon Valley, where there is a high density of active business angels and investors. Then again, progams like Seedcamp and TechStars - which behind the likes of Foodzie and Graphic.ly – may’ve proved that the model can work elsewhere; the program now operates in Bouler, New York, Boston and Seattle – and made took its first international step last year with Startupbootcamp.
Startupbootcamp, the first global affiliate of TechStars, launched last year and held the first edition of its 3-month program in the fall. From August-November, the 32 selected entrepreneurs representing 12 different countries (including Argentina!) worked day and night with the program’s 75 different mentors. Alex Farcet, Startupbootcamp’s co-founder, spent 5 months carefully selecting mentors, as they are the most critical aspect of the program. Farcet managed to gather 100 business angels and entrepreneurs for the famous “Investor Day”, which was held on November 16th. Barely 2 months have gone by since the end of the program and several of the companies are already in advanced negotiations with investors.
Given the success of the first edition of Startupbootcamp, the program is now preparing to launch in additional European cities. As part of a joint venture with Okuri Ventures in Spain, the next Startupbootcamp will take place this summer in Madrid. Okuri Ventures is behind Spanish acceleration program Tetuan Valley. The Startupbootcamp team is also preparing additional programs in London and Berlin for 2012.
Startupbootcamp programs will most likely be organized so that they occur on an on-going basis. This year, the program in Madrid will take place from July-September and the program in Copenhagen will take place from September through November. The dates for London and Berlin are yet to be confirmed, but the Berlin edition will most likely take place from December through February and the London programwill follow from April through June.
And while Alex is also a mentor with France’s new acceleration program, Le Camping, it is very likely that the 2 programs will not establish a similar joint venture to launch Startupbootcamp in Paris. Despite the fact that the programs have a lot of similarities – the mentors, the investor day, the free office space – the programs are most definitely not identical. To my knowledge, Le Camping doesn’t provide each entrepreneur with €4K right off the bat to cover expenses during the program. But the main difference is actually that Le Camping is run by Silicon Sentier, a publicly-financed organization, which means they cannot directly invest in the startups. Bum-mer. But that doesn’t mean that Le Camping can’t take part in the international network of accelorators, United Accelerators, launched by Alex and Luis Rivera – the co-founder of Okuri Ventures who will be responsible for Startupbootcamp in Madrid.
For anyone interested in applying, applications for the Madrid program open tomorrow, on January 21st. No specific previous experience is required and entrepreneurs of all nationalities are welcome to apply. Most entrepreneurs tend to be somewhere from 20 to 30 years in age, although there are no contraints. Just whatever you do, don’t go sending in your business plans; the team has a simple 20-question form to fill-out with interview to follow for the selected entrepreneurs. All information on applying can be found here. Good luck to all the applicants !