Getting investment as a startup is such a challenge that there are specific hurdles, one of which is the Valley of Death. YES!Funded team from YES!Delft aims to demystify this challenge during the Rotterdam Capital Days with a dedicated event. During September 18th – 22nd, the three-day event aims to demystify the world of capital, boosting access to funding for startups and scaleups. Ultimately, with the goal of connecting entrepreneurs and investors. Anyone with an interest in how to attract and raise capital in the area of Rotterdam is invited. Mainly, there will be investors – angels, corporate venture, venture capital, impact, public, and more. YES!Delft service YES!Funded will host an event about the so-called Valley of Death in funding.
What is the Valley of Death?
Jan Geert van Hall, the investment director at YES!Delft describes the Valley of Death as a European problem – the funding gap startups almost inevitably run into. This funding gap usually comes about around the time they have a well-working prototype and some paying pilot customers but need a financial boost to start production and activate sales. At this point, the startups are too advanced for government subsidies, and at the same time too early stage for VC’s. At least in Europe. During the YES!Delft dedicated event at Rotterdam Capital Days, Jan Geert and guests will share the experiences of YES!Funded about the Valley of Death and explore possible solutions to this problem.
Through the YES!Delft service YES!Funded startups can get help with financial lifecycle planning and securing the right funds. The initiative is lead by YES!Delft investment director Jan Geert van Hall, who employs his decades of experience in tech and finance to help tomorrow’s leading firms. Is your startup is looking for its first investment or your startup is further down the road? Here Jan Geert shares his top five tips that are essential to make and keep your startup investor-ready. Join YES!Funded at the Rotterdam Capital Days, and learn about bridging the Valley of Death.
1. Financial forecasting
“The ability to look ahead and anticipate for the future is a basic entrepreneurial financial skill. The lack of such a vision within a company is a definite red flag as it shows a lack of financial discipline.”
2. Top team
“This is a big one. First off, the chances of receiving investment are very low if you are a single founder. Ideally, you have a team of people with different disciplines. Secondly, there is a shared long term vision in the company. Especially the founders should be on the same page and have the same ultimate goals, whether that is an acquisition or scaling up.”
3. Intellectual property
“IP is another facet investors will look at, and for several reasons. First, to make sure you will be able to defend your product from infringement. But parallel to that, they want to understand what it is your product is capable of and the problems it claims to solve. Why is your product unique, and why hasn’t it been invented before?”
4. Checking important milestones
“Having a roadmap with milestones and a clear vision is essential. It shows your estimated worth at each milestone but also the amount of money you need to get there is invaluable when presenting yourself to investors. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it demonstrates you understand your product, your market and you have thought about de-risking your proposition.”
5. Quantify the risks
In conclusion, everything comes down to this. When you look from the perspective of the investor, you want to be able to assess the risk of your investment. Sure, you can never completely eliminate risk, but startups who can at least show an understanding or can quantify the risks and milestones, have a stronger case for investors.”
Tjarda Voorneman – the Project Manager of EIT Health Validation Lab that takes place in Delft for more than four years – talks about the successes of the collaboration between EIT Health and YES!Delft in this period.
This year we are again proud to organize the EIT Health Validation Lab in our incubator in Delft! The unique two-month pressure cooker program allows aspiring entrepreneurs from all over Europe all the way to Delft in The Netherlands to discover the business potential of their MedTech ideas. Tjarda Voorneman, the project manager of EIT Health Validation Lab looks back ahead of the 5th edition.
After 4 successful editions EIT Health Validation Lab, what has changed?
“One of the amazing things that have happened over the course of the last four editions, is the steady growth of the European network. This results in new and powerful partnerships from which everyone benefits. We have many great partners in this program, such as TU Delft, LUMC, UMCG, Biocat, Copenhagen University, and FAU Erlangen- Nurnberg. In turn, this also attracts startups of course, not only in the Netherlands but from the whole of Europe. Since the start four years ago, the majority of European countries have been represented in the program.”
“We have many great partners in this program, such as TU Delft, LUMC, UMCG, Biocat, Copenhagen University, and FAU Erlangen- Nurnberg. ”
Tjarda Voorneman, Project Manager EIT Health Validation Lab
What is it that makes the program so successful?
“The power of the program is the process of validation. EIT has ideation events, such as the Innovation Days and Summer Schools. Validation Lab is a very logical next step from that. We have a strong core program here in Delft that yields results. This is why Validation Lab is one of the Bootcamps offered now in the EIT innovation funnel. The teams get the chance to travel through Europe to validate their business assumptions further, which is an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience. The extensive EIT network is highly beneficial for this.”
There have been many excellent entries in the EIT Health Validation Lab, what are the criteria for winning?
“Winning is not just about having an amazing product, but it’s mostly about how the team has gone through the process of validation. The main goal is finding a product-market fit, and it’s amazing to see how the teams manage to make such massive strides on a European level in such a relatively short time.
Last year’s winners, Smart Medical Optics, are a prime example of this. Through the course of the validation program, they realized they needed to pivot in terms of their beachhead market. They started to focus on research institutions in Europe, which really helped them take off. Participation in EIT Health Validation Lab can help you grow really rapidly. When you go through the process of validation well, you could be pitching before an audience of a thousand peers from the medical sector.”
“The most valuable lesson for us was market-fit: we found potential launching customers not only in Africa, but also in Europe. The Validation Lab really challenged us to think critically about our ambitions and business plan and identify our a beachhead market – Europe. Our ultimate ambition is still to make an accurate and fast malaria diagnosis available in remote parts of the African continent. But the European market is also interesting for our technology – research institutes working with malaria benefit from the fast and accurate reading of blood samples.”
Mirthe Vendel , co-founder Smart Medical Optics
EIT Health Validation Lab draws an international selection of startups, but also from different backgrounds. How important is this diversity?
“During Validation Lab the teams learn a lot from each other. Not only about their countries and the medical fields there but also about the different backgrounds. Some teams are already fully fledged companies. Others are working on projects within major European universities and then some are fresh graduates. They all have different experiences, different perspectives and that enriches the Validation Lab environment. For example, pitching is a skill very central to Validation Lab, and the levels of experience can vary incredibly. To me, it’s amazing to see the journey of all the participants.”
Startup incubator YES!Delft has an amazing and vast ecosystem, with top experts from all fields. Everything from finance, to HR. Their knowledge can be accessed through workshops, mentorship and office hours for YES!Delft startups. To help you find your way to the expertise you need from our ecosystem, we shine the spotlight on our experts!
Robert Jan van Vugt is the YES!Delft Operational Director and is one of the initiators of the brand new workshop Co-Lab. Collaboration and the importance of team are central themes of the workshop. Robert Jan van Vugt is a startup expert has years of experience identifying the central needs of startups and businesses, and developing programs tailored to those needs. Here Robert Jan shares five points on how important a good team is for your startup and all the benefits it can bring you!
1. Size matters
“There is a tendency to attribute startup success to “lone geniuses” – research shows otherwise. There are plenty of examples out there – take Apple: Steve Jobs didn’t work alone, he had Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne to get the startup off the ground and make it into the company that is today. The team size is tied directly to the probability of a firm’s success, and this is supported by almost four decades of research. Data has shown that a team that has two or more founders has an 83% higher chance of succeeding. On the other spectrum, having only one founder takes a startup on average 3.6 times longer to scale.”
“Steve Jobs didn’t work alone, he had Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne to get the startup off the ground and make it into the company that is today.”
Robert Jan van Vugt, startup expert
3. Caring is sharing
“Starting a business is hard. Not just from a professional point of view, but the personal toll is high too. Polls show that entrepreneurs experience significantly more stress and worry than other workers. However, it is important to remember that a shared burden is a lighter one and a celebration is much more fun together. A team is not only there to help you achieve your dreams, but just as important, they are the ones you celebrate your successes with, but also share your failures.
“For investors not having a team is essentially a vote of no confidence, regardless of how amazing your product is. Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money.”