By all accounts, the London startup scene was abuzz with Entrepreneur First‘s latest Demo Day today, as 25 startups — up from nine! — took to the stage to pitch their wares. The so-called “talent first” investor targets the best technical graduates in Europe and beyond to put them through a six-month program where they form teams and in turn found startups.
This “pre-team, pre-idea” approach is what sets EF apart from other accelerators, while the emphasis on technical talent — 95 percent of the cohort who presented today have a technical background — is producing some very interesting results. “This could be game changing for the U.K. ecosystem,” is how one serial entrepreneur put it to me prior to the event.
To that end, and building on last year’s intake, startups on stage spanned cybersecurity, AI, robots, fintech and much more. Specifically, of the fifth cohort, 45 percent are described as working on deep technology, 70 percent are B2B/enterprise products, and 16 percent are hardware (see the full list below).
Meanwhile, EF made a number of additional announcements today, as it looks to further scale up the programme now that it feels the model has been proven. Along with expansion to Asia, the investor will be extending its six-month programme to 12 months, underpinned by a new fund to support graduating startups during subsequent funding rounds.
And as we reported earlier in the day, Wendy Tan White and Joe White, angel investors and founders of website builder Moonfruit (sold to Yell in 2012 for $37 million in cash), are joining Entrepreneur First as General Partners. They were both previously EF Venture Partners, and I know from my own discussions that Wendy Tan White has always been very bullish on EF’s unique approach.
“We’re not an accelerator — that model is broken,” says Entrepreneur First co-founder Alice Bentinck in a statement. “We back talented individuals pre-team, pre-idea to create startups from scratch. We create companies that are focused on defensible technology that capitalises on the technical skills of the cohort. The companies coming out of the programme are incredibly impressive, especially when you think that only six months ago, they simply didn’t exist.”
- CloudNC — CloudNC replaces the human operator of CNC manufacturing equipment, halving the cost of production for more than $300 billion of components every year.
- Lingumi — Lingumi creates interactive products that help teach preschoolers English as a second language through play.
- Credit Kudos — Credit Kudos uses spending habits to build a credit score and makes lending decisions possible for those with non-existent or “thin” credit files.
- TrueAI — True AI’s deep learning algorithm automates customer service by learning to reply to customers automatically, independent of language or platform. Customers can get instant responses and human operators can save time.
- Cambrian Intelligence — Creating telepresent robots for use in places where it is too dangerous for humans to operate.
- Assist AI — A tool that automates customer service emails by suggesting the best possible answers based on learning the context of the ticket.
- Amix Designs — Accelerated analogue integrated circuit simulations for use in industry.
- Rest Secured — Automatic API security testing with zero configuration and no prior knowledge required.
- TypeScore — Alternative credit scoring for lenders using natural language processing analysis on language data provided by the borrower as part of the application process.
- Quantize — Quantize enables companies to take a data-driven approach to recruiting. Machine learning models predict candidate performance-potential based on indicators from their application that have been correlated with top-performance in the past.
- Accelerated Dynamics X Limited — Enables autonomy in fleets of drones, making them intelligent and extremely easy to operate, irrespective of their type or make.
- Avalon — Predicts dementia before it happens.
- Suzu — Suzu analyzes human behavior using AI to help retailers turn browsers into buyers before they leave the site.
- Blinkpool — New e-sports betting platform that implements an innovative gambling mechanism allowing users to place hyper contextual, live and in-play wagers.
- Cleo — An AI assistant to manage your finances.
- Terrestrial — Development tools to significantly reduce the time to internationalize an app.
- Beyond Labs — Beyond transforms how businesses do budgeting — making it real time and collaborative using current data rather than retrospective reports.
- Tembryo — Analysis and coaching for e-sports players directly in the user’s browser using AI.
- Context Scout — Providing context and aid in the verification of any online information for recruiters.
- ThirdEye Labs Limited — Developing algorithms that can predict and detect crime before and as it occurs using surveillance footage.
- PDX Technology — Portfolio insurance for P2P lending platforms.
- Open Cosmos — Democratizes space research by creating a cheap and quick-to-produce nanosatellite, combined with a development toolkit and operating software.
- CertSimple — The fastest way for companies to prove who they are online. It provides businesses with a quick and easy solution to procure an Extended Valuation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL) certificate for their website.
- Animus Technologies — Animus continuously measures the demand for space using sensor-based hardware and intelligent software, allowing building managers to make more intelligent decisions about space utilization and strategy.
- ZeroHeight — ZeroHeight puts an end to fixed-size mobile design by giving designers powerful new tools to communicate with developers.