This week, Lithuanian innovators will have a unique opportunity to test the strength of their startups for international markets with the help of experts from Silicon Valley. In five days of free evening sessions, USMAC board member Chris Burry; Ken Singer, Executive Director of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley; Steve Adelman, managing director of NexusPartners; and Alfredo Coppola, CEO of USMAC, will share their experience on the topics of value creation, business models, communication, sales, and leadership. Together, they have helped nearly three thousand startups to grow worldwide.
Personal connections help expand into new markets
Mr Nezabitauskas is convinced that the benefits of interacting with world-class leaders in the startup ecosystem are threefold. Firstly, global connections provide international knowledge, which is crucial for building world-leading startups. Next, contacts are a crucial component – it is much easier to get the attention of the people you need when you are introduced to them by a mutual acquaintance. Being part of the global startup ecosystem, in general, is also very important, as active participation brings you closer to potential customers.
Chris Burry, a co-founder of USMAC, shares the same opinion: „To increase investor interest in Lithuanian startups, especially university spin-offs, collaboration with world-renowned business accelerator players is essential. We, Silicon Valley entrepreneurship experts, appreciate the opportunity to share our experience with European startups. Greater global connectivity leads to better outcomes for startups and their ecosystems. More connections between founders and executives in other parts of the world lead to more ideas and innovation, which leads to faster growth and more vibrant ecosystems,“ Chris Burry shares his thoughts.
One of the guest mentors, Simona Šimulytė, founder of the social innovation community ChangeMakers’ON, is also happy to contribute to the training with her long experience in the startup ecosystem.
„Having been constantly involved in the startup ecosystems of different countries and observing their progress, I notice that Lithuania is really capable of attracting pre-seed and early-stage investments. Despite the fact that we are a relatively small country, we have a very strong and growing ecosystem with accelerators, business angel funds, and venture capital funds. Maturity, professionalism and proactivity are not enough to attract investment for growth-stage startups, which are likely to turn into unicorns. You need to be constantly on the radar of strong venture capital firms, renowned accelerators in Europe and Silicon Valley, and actively participate in events of importance to the ecosystem,“ says Šimulytė.
As an active commission member in various international startup programmes and accelerators, she is convinced that every startup’s attempt to present ideas to investors ultimately leads to success.
Startups will test their resilience to stressful situations in the training programme
This five-day training will be different from other pre-accelerators in Lithuania in that it will simulate unconventional situations, and all five topics will be presented from a different angle. All participants will test their ability to manage crises, to accept their own and their colleagues’ mistakes, and to act under external „pressure“ and adverse conditions.
„It will be like an intense sprint, where each startup will test its capabilities in new markets and its resilience to stressful situations. For example, it will analyse human psychology and how to show leadership in unexpected, maybe even uncomfortable situations. There will also be a strong focus on communication,“ says Mr Nezabitauskas.
One of the advantages of the training is that all participants will be able to consult experts individually. This is practically impossible outside the training, he said. It is not only an opportunity to gain insights but also to make useful contacts for the future.
Acquaintance grew into further projects
P. Nezabitauskas is glad that eight years ago, he managed to establish warm contacts with Chris Burry, one of the co-founders of USMAC, in Kaunas. At that time, he organised an international conference during which experts from abroad advised now well-known Lithuanian startups such as SneakyBox, Tatotoons, and SearchNode.
„Chris is a successful founder and manager of startups, with a total value of over $1.3 billion, and has over 30 years of experience in the technology industry. Personally, Chris has led more than 120 accelerator programs while at USMAC,“ reveals Mr Nezabitauskas.
According to him, the acquaintance that started eight years ago in Kaunas eventually turned into new projects. One of them is the training organised by Kaunas Science and Technology Park for Lithuanian startups, and the other one is a new venture capital fund for early-stage startups, Catapult Europe VC, which was established by Americans together with their Lithuanian partners.
These sessions are part of the international project’s Scale-Up Champions programme Market Discovery Tour. Participation is free of charge for all selected startups.