After Demo Day? More of the same…

A journalist from a reputable newspaper called me today to talk about Demo Day, which happened (in a blur) last Friday. He seemed to surprised that the startups were back at the same workload that they had been on before the event last week. Yes, they took a bit of break over the weekend (the first in many months) but I walked through the Propeller Collaboration space this morning, and behold the companies were working away on product.

Yes, there is no doubt there are deals going on in the background, after all that was the whole idea of getting 70+ investors in that room on Friday, but venture funding does not a successful company make. This is the tricky bit, where doing a deal with a syndicate or venture fund becomes almost a distraction to the companies, as they strive to bring their vision to the world.

Of course some are under a little less pressure. Associate Mobile agreed terms for an initial 200K last week before the event, and are just dotting the ‘i’s now, but they are already thinking about their next funding move. And the corporates they are being courted by. And the telecoms players that are in contact. Heady days for a startup.

The Fantom team outside the Ryan Academy on Demo Day

In my introduction to the event last week, I told the audience that we need to believe that Ireland can produce the next generation of technology companies. This is true across Europe. It is fitting to say that on the day that is looks like one of the few really successful Web 2.0 companies to have come out of Europe, Skype, is being sold on again, this time to Microsoft (for what seems to be a very high price, but we will see).

The founders of Vendorshop being interviewed by RTE television

It was great to see the enthusiasm (and in some cases shock) of the investors on Friday. Wow, these companies did actually ‘accelerate’ a lot in three months?!?! Yes, it did what it said on the tin. As the founder of Fantom said recently in a radio interview about the acceleration process “it is like getting off the bus, and getting on the bullet train.” Indeed.

The heart and soul of a successful accelerator are, on the one hand, a good group of founders: who can build teams, who are working to work their @ss off, and who will take advice when it is given to them, no matter what their own experience and background. On the other hand, you need a core group of mentors with the right experience who are willing to row in and support the founders the best they can.

We were perhaps lucky with the first cohort, we got both in spades. Here’s hoping that the next group later in the year will show the same level of grit and determination to make it happen.

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