Garage Technology Ventures, Norway’s StartupLab, and Silicon Valley-based MAD-Partners announced earlier this month the launch of Silicon Valley Catalyst, a new joint venture to fund and grow brilliant emerging European technology companies that are ready to launch in the U.S.
The collaboration brings together a team of experienced Silicon Valley and Nordic venture players to provide investment capital and intensive individualised support to startups at a level beyond the standard incubation/acceleration programmes being offered in the Valley. Unlike standard acceleration programs, Silicon Valley Catalyst will provide a customised support model for each individual startup, including intensive development focused on the specific needs of the company, with a particular focus on the requirements of companies bridging to Silicon Valley from the Nordics. Qualifying companies will be accepted from a broad range of sectors, but the primary focus will be on information technology, communications, and software. Each company selected will receive $100,000 in seed funding. As part of Catalyst, each company rapidly develops the agile processes, techniques, and tools used by the best companies in Silicon Valley.
The initial partners in Catalyst are Garage Technology Ventures and MAD-Partners in Silicon Valley and StartupLab in Norway. Nordic One, an alliance of the leading tech incubators in the Nordic region, is also supporting the initiative. As the initiative expands the initial partners are looking to add additional partners, especially venture firms and incubators in Northern Europe.
“In an increasingly competitive landscape, startups must find new and smarter ways to grow their business. Our overall ambition is to help startups fast-track their development by focusing on getting their first global customers, partners, and financing,” said Tor Bækkelund, who bridged his own company from the Nordics to a global success and is now a partner at StartupLab.
Catalyst aims to attract ambitious technology entrepreneurs with compelling products or services ready to realize their international potential. The focus is to help Nordic startups on an individualised basis with customer acquisition, team building, operational infrastructure, and financing.
“Too many programmes are focused on pitching and fundraising. The only way to build a successful company is to get customers. That’s the right priority for good entrepreneurs,” said Pekka Parnanen, who has successfully bridged many of the leading Nordic companies to Silicon Valley, and is the founder of MAD-Partners, a market access and business development firm.
“There are a lot of great ‘acceleration’ programs for entrepreneurs, but ‘batch’ programs can only take a company so far,” said Bill Reichert, a serial entrepreneur and managing director of Garage Technology Ventures. “As we have learned throughout the years, each great company follows a unique path, and so we have designed our training and coaching accordingly, based on our experience investing in over 100 companies. We want Catalyst to be customized so that each participant gets useful support in the areas where they need it most,” Reichert added.
Silicon Valley Catalyst is not intended to compete with accelerators and incubators.
“We work with incubators, accelerators, and investors to help them take their most promising companies to the next level – specifically to launch and grow their companies in the U.S.,” said Reichert. “The companies may have already graduated from an accelerator program and now are ready for a catalyst to jumpstart their launch and growth in the U.S” Reichert continued.
Alexander Woxen, a partner at StartupLab in Oslo Norway said they are looking for ambitious technology entrepreneurs with compelling products or services ready to go global.
“Emerging technology companies need to expand beyond their regional beginnings and step up to the world stage. Silicon Valley Catalyst is designed to provide support for those companies. The work is intensive for three months, and then Catalyst provides ongoing support, according to the needs of each company. Underlying the model is an alignment of interests between the entrepreneurs and the Catalyst partners – through their equity interest, the Catalyst partners win only if the entrepreneurs win,” Woxen concluded.