The “Kaunas Startups” Program is at its peak: activities range from free and open lectures about networking to selected teams’ intensive work with international mentors in the eight-week accelerator. We asked the participants of this year’s “Kaunas Startups” program to share the insider’s look. Those are the people who devote their time to teaching and sharing, and those who are eager to implement gained knowledge in their existing or future businesses.
Trend: to look at traditional businesses in a new way
From intellectual property protection and presentation of ideas to identification of the consumer target groups and other topics relevant to new businesses – all of this is included in open and free lectures of the “Kaunas Startups” Networking part. Since October, experienced professionals of their field, lecturers and mentors, share both experience and systematized theoretical and practical knowledge.
One of them, Gytis Junevičius, the project manager of the Lithuanian Innovation Center, has been working for 11 years with both new companies and expanding businesses. Gytis has joined this year’s “Kaunas Startups” Program as the motivator – he shared his experience and indicated the most commonly encountered errors which often result in the failure of new businesses.
While talking with the participants of this year’s “Kaunas Startups” Program, he noticed that the presented start-up ideas reflect the current trend – everyone turns to the IT sector which requires the least external resources and initial investment. On the other hand, according to Gytis, the participating startups already have a little bit more knowledge and experience: their ideas are more developed and reasonable, the participants do not have their heads in the clouds; on the contrary, a large part of the ideas proposed in the project could already be turned into an operating real business with a little help.
“Was I surprised by the participants ideas? It’s hard to surprise me, but I was delighted that, even while analyzing rather traditional subjects and traditional ideas, participants were able to look at them from a completely different angle and give a completely different insight. And this is very important: the ability to turn even a very traditional business into an innovative one,” emphasizes the lecturer at the “Kaunas Startups” Program.
Meanwhile, one of the participants in the networking program Naglis Ausmanassays that although during his studies in Lithuania and the United States he constantly had to listen to individual lectures on entrepreneurship, this is his first time participating in such consistent lecture cycles together with the team. He claims that it would be difficult to overestimate the benefits: “Lectures are really valuable: the lecturers know what they are talking about, it’s interesting to listen to them, and they are well-prepared.”
Quite recently, together with four experienced engineers, Naglis founded the company “Protozauras” which provides prototype development services. Almost all team members are KTU students working with mechanics, automation and electronics projects: they consult product designers and produce prototypes or small production batches. According to Naglis, this lecture course for startups is exactly what newly-formed businesses need.
The road to attracting investment
Another part of the “Kaunas Startups” Program is the Accelerator, carried out in a little bit different way. Its goal is to help companies with a valuable idea develop their product, enter the market and establish useful contacts with investors and the necessary specialists, and most importantly, to prepare to compete for investment in the market. The participants selected by the commission have been intensively working with dozens of international mentors and lecturers for two months.
One of such teams is the medical technologies startup MB “Šeši partneriai”. A team of medical physicists and engineers is developing the “BrachyDOSE” – a product for quality control and assurance during cancer treatment procedures. According to the developers, this tool helps the oncologist and medical physicist to find out if the treatment plan is going as planned.
The team decided to take part in the “Kaunas Startups” Accelerator not only to acquire the knowledge of product presentation and investment attraction but also to broaden their horizons and establish new contacts.
“We have already developed a prototype of the product and tested its parameters in the conditions similar to a clinical environment. We have the necessary engineering knowledge and our team members have gained experience working on projects in hospitals and treatment centers,” says team representative Neringa Šeperienė.
“What is the impression after the first week of the Accelerator? Very good: we feel a great desire from the lecturers and organizers to help, advise and show us the right direction. We have already received valuable insights on product / idea positioning and preparation for presentation. We received a lot of advice from Wallace Green and other experts during a speed mentoring session. We are looking forward to the next week’s meetings on legal aspects and capital attraction issues.” The participant is inclined to believe that she will be able to successfully present the product created by her team to investors when the Accelerator program ends.
Meanwhile, one of the main experts in the Accelerator M. Wallace Green has focused on ideas, effective processes and presentation skills while working with Kaunas startups.
„I work with startups every day, but I rarely meet teams as hungry for knowledge as here in Lithuania. Startups here have a strong willingness to make business happen – there is a fearlessness to move fast that you don’t see in other markets. If I had to leave one piece of advice to startups here, it would be to work out a solid value proposition first, then create a product. As I head home to Prague after two weeks working with forty startup teams, I am confident that Lithuania can very quickly catch up with other markets in the region – and beyond,” says the expert.
The events of the “Kaunas Startups” Networking Program are held every week: you can register for the open lectures and seminars HERE.
The activities of the Accelerator of “Kaunas Startups”will be held until December 6, and at the end of it, all participating startups will present their ideas to investors.
Information by Kaunas IN Business Division