The pre-acceleration program was designed to support (first-time) entrepreneurs with new ideas who are gearing up to join a full-time acceleration programme or to find other forms of seed investment but are just not yet ready for it. As such, the pre-acceleration program focused on the pre-seed stage, taking people from having an initial idea to having a fully formed and committed team and raising the quality of their startups (and thus their chances of survival).
Each round of the pre-acceleration program had four distinct phases – involvement, hackathons, mentoring and graduation. In the involvement phase, efforts were focused on engaging potential entrepreneurs from both Estonia and Latvia in the program. The hackathon phase was designed to encourage cross-border team creation and to narrow down the circle of participants to teams with the most promising ideas. The teams who passed the application evaluation round were admitted to the mentoring program, which was a series of individual meetings and joint events with highly experienced entrepreneurs and business coaches. After getting feedback on their business ideas and advancing their business models with the help of mentors, the startup teams graduated from the program by pitching their work to potential investors on their graduation day.
The main phase – the pre-acceleration program – was repeated in three rounds, supported by various communication and dissemination activities.
- 28 joint pre-acceleration events organized (including 7 ideation workshops, 3 hackathons, 6 mentoring workshops, 3 mentoring academies, 6 graduation days, 2 study visits and 1 alumni event)
- 38 teams pre-accelerated through mentoring programs
- 434 participants at project events
- brochure “Quick guide to acceleration” published
The EstLat-Accelerate project demonstrated the partners’ joint effort to:
- increase the attractiveness and mutual synergies of the Estonian-Latvian startup scene
- provide hands-on support to potential entrepreneurs in their effort to “start-up”
- promote the willingness to cooperate across borders by supporting the creation of cross-border companies
- raise general awareness on how to do business across borders
- provide follow-up support to the participants for creating long-term cooperation opportunities
The main dissemination channels:
EstLat-Accelerate project website – http://estlat-accelerate.eu/
EstLat-Accelerate Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/EstLatAccelerate/
Impact assessment, replication potential and recommendations