The young entrepreneur Entrepreneur First brings together ambitious young talents.
The exchange rate of the digital currency up, USD 5,000 per bitcoin, USD 10,000, higher and higher. And his family and friends asked Neel Popat the same question: how much should I invest? Popat ignored him – but he had worked for years as a business banker, knew the equity and had finally made the company a donut.
The Berlin start-up wants to give Krypto coins a taste for private investors, partly through playful approaches, partly through micro-investments. The idea: who buys something rarely gives a rounded amount, but 49.99 euros or 4.50 euros. Donut wants to collect money until next euro and automatically invest in encrypted money. Later, additional features will be added, such as monthly deposits or investments, after playing sports. Because many digital currencies fluctuate strongly, Popat relies exclusively on Bitcoin, at least initially. First, the offer will be available only in the United States, then in Germany.
The fact that the donut is today is pure coincidence and is also based on a commercial model. The founders, Neel Popat, did not subsequently meet with the ex-employer or the beer, but with the co-founder of Autpreneur First (EF).
EF founder Alice Bentinck and her companion Matthew Clifford previously worked for McKinsey Consulting in London. They explained that what ambitious people do with their lives has a lot to do with where they live. "If you live in California, you become a founder and if you live in London, you join a big company," says Bentinck. There are many talented people in the world. How can you encourage them to start their own business? Bentinck and Clifford have created their young business, Entrepreneur First, which translates to "entrepreneurs first".
Eight years after its creation, EF is present at six locations – Berlin, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangalore -, serves 800 founders each year and invests $ 200 million in companies created under these programs. EF is looking for smart people who are quick learners, have special backgrounds (most of them are interested in technology) and challenge the status quo, Bentinck said. In the end, it is important to invest in talent first and not in a brilliant idea.
In the program, two candidates work together, develop ideas, discuss their strengths and define a framework. In addition to the donut, Magic Pony is also an example of a foundation at EF. "In the space of 18 months, two people have become a start-up bought by Twitter," Bentinck said. Magic Pony processes photo and video data using neural networks, a service worth about $ 150 million for the SMS messaging service in 2016. Bentinck explains that the two founders do not have never met there, unlike other beginner smiths. Anyone who asks for a funding program with an incubator will already bring with them the product idea and the founding team. EF reverses this process.
Those who participate in the program will have 14 weeks to find partners and business ideas during the first phase. At the end of this phase, as a rule, 80% of participants formed teams. They must now promote their idea before a committee and hope for an investment for the second phase. It will take six months, during which the new founders will develop their start-ups and prepare a round of financing. For this, they obtain initial capital of 80,000 pounds (about 87,000 euros) and receive in return 10% of the shares. In addition, EF pays each candidate a monthly scholarship that he does not have to repay.
Neel Popat also participated in one of the programs in Berlin. He met Jordan Abderrachid, a former backend developer at Berlin's N26 smartphone bank. As the founding team of Donut, they were able to collect a six-figure amount. In February, the next round of investors followed. Redalpine, a well-known investor for start-ups, was among the donors.
The next Google is based in Europe, so the conviction of the sponsors
Popat is convinced that his company could interest a specific clientele that banks and mutual funds struggle to reach: young people. "The Millennials no longer trust banks, they prefer to invest in crypto-currencies rather than shares," said Popat. "However, they do not know how, the whole market is totally chaotic for beginners." That's why at Donut, you do not just want to trade investments, but also knowledge about opportunities and risks. In the end, investing in Bitcoin, in Popat, should become as normal as investing in stocks.
But why should not users put the accumulated money into stocks or bonds? Popat said: "The potential wealth of bitcoins and other digital assets is greater." Even if you lose, it would not be a lot of money because you are only investing cents. As a result, he does not say: Profits are likely to fund even a retirement home.
Popat and his colleagues want to make enough money. Currently, they receive 1.5% of all investments in "trading fees" and another percentage in commissions. Enough money to finance the business does not bring that. Donut, like many other fintechs, wants to grow, wants to make more sales first then look how to become profitable.
EF is convinced that the next Google will be based in Europe. But is it positive if you think of the criticisms that are currently being addressed to the search engine operator in the United States and in the European Union? "New businesses create new jobs," Bentinck says, adding automation and artificial intelligence to strengthen the site. The program will discuss the influence of technology on individuals and society, as well as the evolution of the automated world. A large part of the 110 employees of the EF team come from young companies and advise future founders. Potential candidates are also in the network of current and former participants.
The EF program is suitable for founders for the first time, says Popat. Nevertheless: "with my experience, I would not do it again." That he found the right partner was lucky. If he found her, he would look for a partner among the people with whom he was working before. "You have a good chance of finding someone who is on the same length of wave," he says. Those who do not have this option should be in good hands with EF. But a six-month program can not replace working together.
For the fourth time, the economic summit of the South German newspaper with the start-up competition "Gipfelstürmer" the best German founders. The call is taking place until August 31st. A jury made up of members of the SZ-Wirtschaftsredaktion selects the six finalists from all the candidates. They are allowed to attend the SZ Economic Summit in Berlin in November and present their company there. Summit participants choose the winner. Details and applications: www.sz-wirtschaftsgipfel.de/gipfelstuermer