What It Takes To Make It To Demo Day At One Of Hong Kong's Top Accelerator Programs
One of the most exciting events in startup land is demo day. Demo days are typically held at the conclusion of a startup accelerator’s program and it is meant as a way to showcase the latest and greatest startups that have successfully completed their tutelage. I vividly remember my very first demo day experience. It was 2011 and I had somehow managed to finagle an invite to the highly anticipated Y Combinator Winter Demo Day in Silicon Valley as an angel investor. YC’s demo day is famous not only for the hot startups that it features but also for the celebrity cameos such as Ashton Kutcher and Joe Montana who attend in an attempt to hand pick the next AirBnB or Dropbox. The atmosphere was intense as over 60 startups lined up nervously to pitch their world changing idea to the all the top startup investors in the world. The primary goal of demo day is for a startup to pitch investment into their company but it also makes for a great networking event allowing the community to come together and celebrate a new batch of innovation.
We’ve spoken about the great advancements in Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem in the past and I was truly excited to see one of our very own home grown accelerators Betatron successfully complete their first Silicon Valley-esque demo day earlier this week.
Have you heard of Betatron?
Betatron is an intensive four-month long Hong Kong based accelerator program that is non vertical specific. The program was founded by six independent parties which include some of the top Hong Kong VC investors such as MindWorks Ventures, Vectr Ventures, CoCoon Ignite Ventures and The Aria Group. Startups that are successfully admitted into the program will receive funding, dedicated mentorship from one of the “partners” and free workspace at the Betatron Lab in Hong Kong. Not a bad deal in a city such as Hong Kong where rent the single largest expense for most companies.
Betatron’s financial commitment to each startup in the program is US$30,000 which is smaller than most of the larger accelerators (YC invests US$120,000 for 7% and 500Startups invests $112,500 for 6%). What’s interesting is how Betatron invests this US$30,000 via a Simple Agreement for Future Equity or SAFE note. Seen as an alternative to the traditional convertible note, Betatron will only receive stock at a later date (capped at a post-money valuation of US$375,000 or 8%) if there is a subsequent funding round or exit, or on the first anniversary of the issuance of the note. Finally, to ensure that all startups remain motivated for the duration of the program, this investment is spread out over three installments with the final one given only upon successful completion of the program.
Betatron’s founding partners not only provide money but also resources within their network to maximize the chances of success for the startups in the program. Perhaps the largest benefit of going through the program is the intangible stamp of approval a startup will receive knowing that they have the backing of Hong Kong’s most prominent VC investor group.
An overview of Betatron’s first cohort
LogFlows: A cloud-based, all-in-one platform for the logistics industry
Off Menu: The smart O2O marketing platform for bars & lounges
Vmind: An offline-to-online platform for enhancing your pre-dining experience
Pakpobox: A multi-service network of smart lockers that solves all the existing problems for logistic operators, consumers and e-merchants.
Perhaps the most exciting news of the night however was the announcement of the next cohort which is due to start in the fourth quarter of 2017. Fresh off the success of cohort one the burning thirty thousand dollar question that most are asking is “How do you get accepted into the next Cohort?” To answer this, I directly asked Sam Ameen, Betatron’s Head of Digital Marketing.
“Regarding the specific application criteria, we focus on finding startups who tick three main boxes. Firstly, they needed to have built a product which utilizes technology - as this demonstrates that their team can execute and their product can scale. Secondly, they need paying customers (or a lot of users) - as this validates that they are actually solving a problem. Thirdly, they needed a large addressable target market as we want to ensure that their startup is scalable outside of Hong Kong.”
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