Well… it has been a very interesting experience indeed. Although it was just a game, participating on the StartUp Games , as a part of the Western Balkan Summit 2018 in London, taught us that over there, in the land of investments and money, one thing is the most important of all. And that is Scaling. Scaling fast and scaling cheap.
The StartUp games were a virtual game with around 20 startups from the Western Balkans on the one side and investors, with virtual money on the other side. Everybody had a mobile app, some having their profile as investors, some as entrepreneurs (startups). Everything took place in a big open room, where everybody got to talk to everybody, both the investors and the startups. It was up to the startups to deliver short pitches to the investors (mostly between 2-5 minutes) and lure them to invest in their companies. As the investors bought shares and invested money in a startup – the value of the startup grew. The winners among the startups would be the ones with highest evaluation at the end and the winners among the investors, were the ones with highest investment portfolio (money from the latest calculated value of the shares in the companies in which they invested).
Over a period of 2 and a half hours, every startup spoke to every investor, with the investors having a total of virtual 2M GBP to invest. With less then an hour to go, the organizer announced that now there are new rules in place, as among the investors, there were few of them with an increased investment potential of 20M GBP. So, regardless of who ever was leading up-to that point, with the new situation – suddenly it become open for everybody to win…
Investors who have invested early in the startups, at a lower price-per-share, saw a potential for buying new shares at larger price, to increase their investment portfolio significantly. And the trick at this point, was to find the investors with 20M GBP and to persuade them to invest in buying more shares, at a higher price.
The organizer, GEP – The Global Entrepreneur Programe of the UK, is an organization, funded by the UK Government to help startups from all-over the world, who have their R&D departments overseas, to bring their business and setup headquarters in the UK. You can learn more about this programe, as well as the opportunities for entrepreneurs and accelerators at the GEP website.
As part of the program, there are 23 entrepreneurs also known as “dealmakers“, who are mentors and can connect companies with potential customers and partners. These dealmakers have given us great feedback and info about how to move to the UK.
Eventually the game ended and we won second place. Congratulations to http://www.j-coders.com/ for winning and also to http://synapseaviation.aero/, with a great product who finished in the top three. At the end of the day, we were all winners for having shared among ourselves our experiences and obstacles on how to grow to international markets. As well as for receiving feedback and information about our products from the dealmakers and proven UK entrepreneurs.
At the end of the day, this was only a game. Going after virtual money and learning how to promote our product to different types of potential users.
For our team, which has worked very hard in the last couple of years, the same road is still in front of us… finding ways to scale VapourApps to external markets and improving our product, so that companies world-wide can benefit from a dashboard where they can manage their whole IT infrastructure, with included applications, open source and with no lock-ins.