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Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:02

February 2012 - Program Report

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This February we hosted a two-week incubator program for 9 startups from Russia. The first week was dedicated to intensive work with mentors. They helped the startups evaluate the vitality of their business models as well as assisted with putting together each company’s presentations and elevator pitches for investors.

After a couple of days into the program, Dmitry Rudchenko, member of the Magru Team said, “Hands down, it is apparent that the atmosphere here is entrepreneurial and start-up friendly. There is even a hall of fame with the names of the most famous and successful startups”. On average, during the first week, each team worked with about 20 mentors, who delved deep into understanding the business idea behind each project. Then, mentors spent a couple of hours discussing all the pros and cons of the projects with each team. Moreover, teams had a number of opportunities to practice their elevator pitch. Successful local entrepreneurs and investors were the experts who evaluated each startup. The short-term cummulative result of the teams’ work was a successful presentation during Demo Day, which took place on February 13th, 2012.

The work completed during the first week of the incubator gave each startup  a clear understanding of the modifications that would be necessary to make their companies more attractive in the global market i.e., improve their business models, network and build connections that would help them find business partners and investors in the US market in the future. For example, at the end of the first week one team concluded that their current business model was not viable, and with the help of the mentors began exploring other possible applications of their technology.

During the second week, teams met with venture and angel investment companies, as well as attended a series of lectures on  entrepreneurship. Lectures were presented by leading Boston investors, faculty members of MIT Sloan Business School (Bill Aulet, head of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center MIT), angel investor Joe Caruso (Managing Partner, Common Angels),  and successful entrepreneurs, expats from Russia: Evgeniy Kuznecov (co-founder Abine) and Andrey Prihodko (successful serial entrepreneur, current startup: Project Concord LLC). For example, Prihodko and others discussed critical points about working with venture capital funds, possible scenarios of selling the idea to strategic investors in the US, as well as their own lucrative experience in the field. Moreover, during the second week, teams worked on establishing new contacts. In fact, a significant number of contacts have been established; Sasha Yakovlev from Cofite pointed out, “Our team made more beneficial connections during the incubator program than during the entire time span of the company’s existence.

Overall, in my opinion, all startups were highly satisfied with their incubator experience.  You can view more stories about teams’ experiences on our Youtube channel. Also, we conducted a survey at the end of the incubator. Here is a brief summary of the results:

  • More than 90% of the participants found that participation in the program greatly improved their knowledge in the area of entrepreneurship and gave them a clear sense of the innovation ecosystem at MIT.
  • More than 93% of the participants would recommend this incubator to other entrepreneurs and 100% expressed a strong interest in coming for another longer incubator program.
  • On average, teams made 6 or more beneficial business connections.
  • 32% of the participants evaluated the benefit for their business’ future growth gained from the Startup incubator to be worth over $100K, 46%: $50-100K, and the rest- around $10K.

 

Next program will be held in July, 2012.

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