Updated: Jan 24, 2020
After the decision is made to begin a startup, then the question becomes, where to start? The concept of startups is such a huge topic and there are many incubators and accelerator programs to help these future companies build a foundation, expand upon ideas, and launch. But where do they start? Who and what do you look for? Having a lot of choices can be great because you're aware of all the support, but it can also be overwhelming. This has been the growth of Calypso so far.
Calypso became a part of this accelerator program to start creating a foundation for the company. The program provides mentors and a small investment to help build a team to create the minimal viable product, the MVP. StartUp Chile has also proven to be a good resource for networking with other startups at different stages of development and their advice is invaluable. The latter continues to be beneficial because it gives us access to the other participants and alumni. The support and information Calypso receives continues to be a great resource.
The first approach to introducing Calypso to Stuttgart was to join the MTech Accelerator. This group largely helped with some mentorship and direction to begin validating the project. The mentors answered our questions, gave suggestions for where to look for investors or how to acquire more information about the waste system. In general, it was really useful for creating a network with other startups at various stages of their business development in Stuttgart.
EnBW Spark Program
EnBW is the main energy company in Baden-Württemberg, which I’ll call BW, the region Stuttgart is a part of. It is meant to help startups develop a financial plan and business model as well as guide them in validating the product. The final part involves expanding the business model, collecting a customer base, and perhaps modifying the idea to fit the potential customers’ feedback.
After the experience with Startup Chile, this program seemed like a good starting point to developing company for the German market. Since the original idea was inspired by the German waste system, it was easy to collect additional information on the existing system. Then it just became a matter of organizing the information and data to convince others why Calypso would work here.
Some of the benefits of EnBW included: bringing together the current team of Calypso and finding additional help, building the foundation for the German installment of the company, and lastly beginning the development of a strong business base for Calypso. The program also gave access to other startups and mentors who had helped build startups in Germany. With all the research and experience collected at StartUp Chile, Calypso had a strong data set to launch.
In the end, Calypso made a fair amount of progress as far as developing the idea and validating it in BW.
YC Combinator Startup School
Toward the end of the EnBW program, Calypso joined the Y Startup School, a program through the YC Combinator, an American accelerator based in Silicon Valley. This was a really neat concept because it fosters cross-pollination of ideas and experiences between startups in the same region or who were also participating in the program simultaneously. In each meeting, you and your team meet with about 4 to 6 other startups and introduce your company, the current status, the future aspirations, and then you gain advice from the other participants or hear about their difficulties and accomplishments. Similar to the other accelerators and incubators, this program gave us a supporter base from which we could gauge what challenges others face. At the end of this program, we also applied for the YC Combinator, which would give us an initial investment and three months of time in Silicon Valley to grow the idea. Unfortunately, our idea was not mature enough to join the program in San Francisco, but the feedback and connections made over the duration of the program was useful and encouraging.
In conclusion, all startups are different. What they need will vary based on the information they have already gathered, how abstract the project is or if the society where it is being implemented already has some system in place. Our experience overall has been super positive as we have continued to learn and grow in each phase as well as maintain contact with other future companies on their journey. Based on Calypso's experience, you can always learn something from an incubator, so just try it out and see what direction it takes you.