On August 22-24th the very first Digital Startup Academy took place in Riga. From 26 applications, only 10 teams were selected and joined an intensive bootcamp-type weekend where they had a chance to improve their business ideas. In the end, Furnny was announced as the winner of the academy.
26 applications, 10 spots
The academy welcomed all those who wanted to change the digital world to apply � from bloggers to new media portals, from social networks to e-commerce and consumer-oriented startups. In total, 26 interesting startups competed with their applications for 10 available spots, and TechHub Riga jury had a hard task to determine the participants. The following teams were selected:
- Eat With Pro - global internet platform where nutritionists offer their services to clients in cost effective and risk-free way.
- Meepl - application to find and connect likeminded people who will join you in the cafe/restaurant/other location before you go to that place.
- Lemonade � an application that enables shoppers to find product buying locations and prices on their smartphone.
- Plazalog - the fast and easy way for web site visitors to share what they�re thinking and talk to each other on blog, using real-time online commentary system.
- Quiq.ly - an everyday assistant application that helps people make decisions quickly based on relevant opinions.
- Skinny Pleasure - hedonistic lifestyle blog about how to enjoy various pleasurable experiences and intellectual topics.
- Qfer � an application to quickly explore and use offers around you for free.
- Files.fm - cloud file storage and easy large file tranfer solution.
- reContact - iPhone application for building strong relationships.
- Furnny - a platform that has been created to make the job of arranging and furnishing homes and spaces easier.
The doors were also opened for individual applications who could join the selected teams.
Improving business ideas
The mentors� panel consisted of experienced entrepreneurs and experts - Uldis Leiterts (Infogr.am), Egils Boitmanis (Infinitum8), Agris Kipurs (AirDog), Viesturs Sosars (Real Sound Lab), Andris K. Berzins (Buzztale), Jarmo Kuusivuori (business management and strategy expert) and Arturs Mednis (Inspired Digital) were there to bring out the best potential from the teams. Mentors� expertise included digital marketing, business management and development, product validation and pitching - skills that are essential at the beginning of every startup journey.
In three short days the teams gained knowledge from invaluable keynotes, participated in mentoring and networking sessions, and pitched their ideas to some of the best Latvian investors, all of which was a challenging task, because they wanted to get the most out of event. Teams received a set of tools and knowledge to improve their ideas and start conquering their markets. Some modified the business models and analyzed target audiences, some made notes on marketing strategies, and some even changed a name.
Growing Latvian startup scene
The academy once more indicated that the Latvian startup scene is growing both in numbers and desire to be seen, mentored and directed into the global world. Likewise, with the developing startup scene, there was a growing interest of investors to find new products where to invest in. The academy was a place where new entrepreneurs met VCs from ZGI and BaltCap, and several angel investors from LATBAN.
Yet, the biggest success story was saved for the very end, as Furrny was announced as the winner of the first Digital Startup Academy, receiving tickets to the biggest North-European tech conference Slush. It was a team that had shaped several aspects of their startup throughout the academy and showed the biggest potential for the investors jury. All the teams were encouraged to continue actively working on their startups, and participate future events, as well - build their success story.
Digital Media Startup Academy was organized by TechHub Riga and supported by Bridg-it! and Investment and Development Agency of Latvia in the framework of �Entrepreneurship Motivation Programme� managed by LIAA and co-financed by European Regional Development Fund and European Union.