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Designing the Service to Improve the Investor Readiness of Start-ups

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InReady (Designing the Service to Improve the Investor Readiness of Start-ups)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

SMEs and start-ups struggle to enter new markets due to lack of working capital. And this situation forces the companies to seek funding from private sources and especially venture capital funds. Thus, start-ups seek to participate in Business to Investor (B2I) matchmaking events where they can meet investors and have the opportunity to present their business ideas and attract funding for their company through great presentation (“pitching”). However, attracting venture capital is a challenge on its own – only 1 in 400 start-ups that pitch their business idea to venture capital funds secure funding. The main issue being addressed by the project is related to support of SMEs and start-ups in preparing for pitching their project idea in front of investors, to secure private or public funding.
The overall objectives which the project expected to deliver:
1. To develop the tool which will offer a better solution in comparison with similar products available in the market.
2. To attract more innovation agencies that got to know the new tool and started to use it to support their clients.
3. To scale-up the InReady tool and the methodology for innovation agencies in order to help start-ups achieve better results in pitching, save time, cost and the disappointment from repeating unsuccessful pitches.
The main project result - a new service to facilitate investment readiness utilizing a new webtool for checking the SME’s and start-up’s readiness to pitch and proposing an action plan for improvements was fully implemented. A new, user-friendly web tool was created for SMEs and start-ups. Together with this tool, in order to make it more useful consultancy services were developed, to help the SMEs, start-ups and other interested parties to use InReady tool. The consultants’ role was developed to assist the start-ups and SMEs with all the activities connected with the InReady tool: to answer all the questions on using the InReady tool, to explain the results of InReady tool session, to advice on further steps to improve the results, to prepare for the pitch better. Comparing with similar solutions, the added value of InReady tool is consultancy services that were developed to help the SMEs, start-ups and other interested parties to use InReady tool. The analogues in the market don’t have the integrated support of the consultancy services, are focused more for individual improving. Without professional help young companies often interpret the information not completely correctly.
The developed investment readiness tool and the results from the randomized control trials were communicated to important multipliers and stakeholders (Innovation agencies from project partners countries; Enterprise Europe Network; other relevant National and European stakeholders such as business incubators and accelerators; Competent national and regional agencies) interested in new support services for SMEs and start-ups. The dissemination and communication activities of project results helped project partners to encourage others organizations to join the innovation ecosystem. The innovation agencies that started to use the new developed tool with the SMEs and start-ups they support, will have the possibility to provide better services helping companies to achieve better results in pitching.
During the project implementation project partners identified the additional features that should be included scaling-up the prototype of InReady tool to answer to the various companies’ needs. Now the tool is more useful for the start-ups that have no previous experience with preparing a pitch of their product/services and less useful for companies that have already previous experience with pitches. In order to have a platform that is considered useful for all companies, the tool should include such additional features as, e.g: automatic evaluation of project data using artificial intelligence technologies, benchmarking, the better functionality of the automatic files generator, multi – language. The scaling-up of the InReady tool with additional features will more answer to the various companies’ needs and help start-ups achieve better results in pitching, save their time and cost.
The project has a positive impact for the:
1. SMEs and start-ups with no or little prior experience with pitching- to improve their preparedness for investment pitching. All SMEs or start–ups registered for the sessions of InReady tool are able to get direct or remote services from innovation consultants while creating their own projects in InReady system and discussing on experts’ conclusions and advices developing the roadmap for improvement of presenting the company to the investors. Thanks to InReady tool and consulting complementing services, companies will have the chance to prepare and improve their pitch. Having a good pitch is very important, because it is a first step for those entrepreneurs who are seeking investments. Moreover, the pitch is more and more presented in different EU Programmes. EIC Accelerator is just one example among others and entrepreneurs should be ready to pitch their idea. In this framework, InReady tool is a concrete support for companies, in order to let them to focus on the right information to include in their pitch and improve their strategy and path toward a positive investment;
2. Innovation agencies – to standardise their services in supporting SMEs and start-ups seeking financing. Innovation agencies are one of the most important players in the innovation system. They develop and manage innovation support services, and provide assistance in funding research and development (R&D) projects, which are risky concerning the outcome but have a great potential. However, the resources of innovation agencies are very limited, especially financial ones, for the development of new services, which are required to keep up with the requirements of SMEs. The need of new and improved services is continuous in order for innovation agencies to stay relevant in an ever-developing ecosystem. The landscape for investment is undergoing strong changes with new options and tools emerging to which innovation agencies must adapt. The innovation agencies that will start to use the new developed tool with the SMEs and start-ups they support, will have the possibility to provide better services helping companies to achieve better results in pitching.
3. Society. The new service to facilitate investment readiness can help SMEs and start-ups to attract the funding from venture capital. The stimulus of working capital enables these future companies fast growth along with implementation of successful business activities and social impacts listed below:
• It will enable companies to develop new, high value-added products and services;
• It will enable to create the new work places and solve unemployment problems locally and globally;
• It will increase the competitiveness of the company in relation to other competitors;
• It will raise the level of the economy in home country as well as may have global impact – it depends on startup success.
• At the same time it will increase home country's awareness in global context as well as country competitive advantage.
All these aspects as a single complex of factors may have important and the positive impact to society – locally and globally as well.