This blog-post was originally published on the Lisbon Challenge Blog.
Sounds catchy right? Well, that’s because it is. Lisbon Challenge is funding 10 thousand euros per startup, to develop and launch their product in 10 weeks. It’s that simple.
You don’t even have to have an MVP yet. Nope, we’re not looking for traction, proof of concept, or first sales. We just want exceptional teams with serious founders that are ready to do whatever it takes to build a solution to a problem they know they are the only ones that can solve it.
Going from a non-equity and non-investment program in the past that focused on growth and internationalization, to a pre-seed product development accelerator now, that funds 10K for 1,5% equity, we’re going the extra mile to help founders in the most crucial stage of their journey, which is the very start. We’re strong believers of non-dilution on the first rounds of funding and understand the need of keeping an attractive valuation, and that’s exactly what we aim to offer. This way, teams only need to focus on building an amazing product for a very sticky customer segment.
At Lisbon Challenge, we’ll work with you on several milestones such as validating the problem-solution fit, validating your first minimum viable customer segment, validating your UX and customer journey so that you launch within 10 weeks and still be in time to get your very first customers before Investors Day. All of this is to set you on the road to product market fit. Startups with the most promising outcome in the end of the 10 weeks can still get an additional funding of 40 to 75 thousand euros.
We’re looking for teams using deep tech like machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain, security, internet of things and big data, and all teams applying need to have one technical founder and one business founder, as well as no previous investment in that startup.
To make sure we select the best teams, we will be inviting the top 20 teams that applied to a one-week intensive Bootcamp, with flights and accommodation paid for. During the Bootcamp, we will work side by side with the teams on their business models, fundraising strategy and go to market strategy, so that all the teams pitch to the LC investment committee in the end where up to 10 startups will be invested and accepted into the acceleration program.
That’s because we believe Lisbon is the best city in Europe to start your journey. Easy to set a business, easy to hire, cheap and great technical skills. In fact, just ask Pipedrive, Talkdesk or Farfetch. They all have their engineering teams based in Lisbon because of how beneficial it truly is.
So to recap here’s the main points:
- Lisbon Challenge will fund 10K per startup for 1,5% equity to support product development during 10 weeks
- We want strong teams that have 1 tech and 1 business founders
- We prefer anything from machine learning, IoT, AI, AR/VR, cloud computing, big data, security
- We will invite top 20 startups that apply for a one week intensive Bootcamp to work side by side with us, with flights & accommodation paid for
- We focus on validation and expect startups to work on product development
Beta-start’s 12th Edition ended precisely 10 days ago – disclaimer: this is an emotional blogpost.
Every Beta-start edition is special. And this is mostly due to its participants. I’m not talking about the idea or success of the startups that “survive” but, the people. These men and women who were bold enough to pause their lives for 4 weeks in order to come learn how to validate and continuously test their business assumptions. For that they deserve our respect, no matter how crazy some ideas may seem.
6 startups + 1 pitched brilliantly on the Demo Day. They had it all: the well-structured pitch, the pretty design slides and the charisma, it was an interesting moment and the perfect ending for this program. But, why 6 + 1? Well, this is a program about validation and getting facts to support your assumptions, meaning: it is more than okay when participants decide not to continue with their projects if they understand that somehow their initial idea is no longer viable – so we had 6 pitches on projects and 1 on learning, decisions and conclusions after validation.
So, in short the outcomes of this batch:
André was our plus one here and he is now taking some time for ideation – my guess is he will integrate a startup team soon 🙂
Miles ‘n’ Dreams: Sofia rebranded her project and aims to build a marketplace for destination weddings.
Viable: Jaime and Manuel, are true hustlers, now with a new business model and different targets for their entrepreneurship viability platform.
meTour: Christine pivoted within the same solo traveler market and is now focusing more in offering better prices to solo travelers by doing shared tourism and leisure activities.
Buzaco: Diogo is still materializing (literally) your outdoor furniture dreams now with full power.
Sweat Experience: Alex, Andrew and Marvin are now back in the UK full powering their platform for athletes posting their stories and achievements I bet we will hear from them soon.
FlyPilot: The platform for renting airplanes is now taking off, Miguel has his numbers in order and is ready to his MVP.
We always wanted Beta-start to be a mind shifting experience and this was precisely what happened with more than 100 mentoring sessions, 13 workshops, a lot of pitch practicing, tailored help and networking. It is hard to describe how much they evolved during these 4 weeks mainly in terms of pitching and having their business ideas structured.
There is no other acceleration program like Beta-start. No other program provides this much freedom to projects that gradually may evolve to startups. No strings attached in a program where ideas are never stupid (at least before validation) yet demanding enough to set the pace and a “must-deliver” culture.
Excited? Want to more about one of these startups or about our pre-accelerators?
Email me: email@example.com
If you’re busy getting everything ready to launch your own startup you probably haven’t had the time to think things through and set a marketing plan for your pre-launch. It can be quite daunting, we know, but even though it’s not rocket science, it should definitely be part of your to do list before launching your product to the market.
So the big question is how can you build an audience before having a product? Well, that can be tricky, but it’s crucial when creating a successful business and we’re here to help you get on the right track. Get thousands of users interested in your product with the following tips:
- Content, content and more content
Create interesting content to attract your target audience and set up an SEO strategy. Search for relevant keywords and think of what your target might look for when searching online. Once you get this out of the way start a blog and write about topics related to your business in order to get people interested and see you as an expert in the matter. Consider using WordPress for instance and add an SEO plugin, Yoast, to help you get that sorted. You should definitely write a blog post for when you launch, telling people the story behind your business and introducing your startup, for example.
You should also try putting together other types of content, such as e-books and infographics. If you’re not a designer but wish to do it yourself there are a few tools to help you create these visual designs like Canva, Pik to Chart, Infogr.am or PicMonkey. Oh and don’t forget to write down your FAQs to build up on SEO as well.
- Create a landing page
Get a landing page so that your users can subscribe for a private beta version of your product. Let these early adopters access your product before the official launch and ask for feedback. According to the feedback you get you can adapt your product and make it better for your customers when you officially launch it to the market.
With this landing page it’s crucial that you explain exactly what your product is about and why you’re doing it in the first place. This is your chance to inspire people and get them interested in what you’re building. You should also make them feel exclusive and unique for being the very first users of your product and give them something in return (if you’re building a paid mobile app, for example, let them download it for free).
- Get your Social Media started
Social Media is a major acquisition channel so you might as well do it right. Create a Facebook page for your startup and Twitter account to get you rolling. Invite your friends to like and follow your page. Post interesting content on a daily basis and bear in mind that visual content works much better on Social Media. When you post your latest blog post on Facebook for example you should think of a nice photo to add because it increases reach and engagement. You should also consider creating a campaign for people to like your page and boost your posts on Facebook (you can get a budget of €20 per week and boost a few posts). As for Twitter, don’t forget to follow a list of influencers and make sure you favorite and retweet what they publish. And last but not least, let people know through Social Media that they can subscribe for the private beta version by posting a link of your landing page.
- Get the press attention
You need to make the press talk about you, but obviously that’s easier said than done. And that’s not just a matter of your product being newsworthy, it’s more than that. All information about your startup should be of easy access for the press. For this reason you need to create a Press Page where you can add all information about your startup. You should explain your concept and business and add relevant statistics (journalists have a thing for numbers, so you might as well give it to them). This Press Page should also have a few photos of your product, your team and other relevant visuals. It should also be easy to find so add it to the footer of your homepage for example.
As for the official launch you should get a list of journalists to contact and send your Press Release. In order to find and track emails you can use some cool tools such as Sidekick, Rapportive and SellHack. When you have all these contacts in a spreadsheet you can write your Press Release about your startup launch and send it over to these journalists when the time comes. What’s important is for you to be practical and bear in mind that most journalists get hundreds of emails everyday, so stand out from the crowd and give them all the information so that they can talk about you effortlessly.
- Make a demo video
Create a demo of your product so that your customers can better understand it. This can be released during the first week of your official launch for example. Check out these examples from Mint.com, Spotify and Crazyegg for some inspiration! You can also make a video of a pitch to better communicate your idea and concept and if you’re interested in joining Lisbon Challenge even more so 😉
- List your startup
Getting backlinks to your website is super important but you need them to be relevant as well. List your business in startup directories such as CrunchBase, Beta List, Angel List,Venture Beat and F6S. You can get a lot of people to sign up for your product just by listing it in these websites.
- Define a process for customer care
First you need to get all your contacts in the same place, you can either have it in a spreadsheet or have a CRM tool. Define a process for when you launch, know how you’re going to talk to your customers, who’s going to answer and ask for feedback every single time.
- Get your email marketing up and running
Create a newsletter with the content you’ve created using Mailchimp for example and send it regularly to your customers. Let people know what you’ve been up to with your latest blog posts or articles in the press. Set a purpose for this newsletter and take Evernote as an example (they email their recent users with 5 tips of how to use Evernote in separate emails, this gets their attention and increases open rates). Also, don’t forget to ask for feedback whenever you can and adapt your product if necessary according to the different insights.
- Get busy networking
It’s funny how you always think of online marketing to get you thousands of users but it’s a common misconception to think that it’s all it takes. You can’t really ignore what goes on in the real world and not take advantage of networking for instance. At Lisbon Challenge you get a chance to network with key players within the startup scene. It’s a huge advantage to get insights from people like Michael Seibel from YCombinator who was here for the previous edition, Carlos Espinal from Seedcamp or Cliff Reeves from Microsoft Ventures. Talk to as many people as you can and get as much feedback as possible. Get out of the building and make it happen.
Launching a startup is not an easy job, that’s for sure, but it’s a huge help if you have a good plan and stick to it. Set the date for the product launch, go for the sprint and remember that “if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late” Reid Hoffman
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