Apply To Startups Of The Month

26 April 2024·7 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month — Envolve XL

Envolve XL strategy overview

  • Geography: Greek-founded startups worldwide
  • Preferred industries: industry agnostic
  • Company stage: pre-seed, seed
  • Product stage: MVP – Launch ready
  • Product type: any product/service that sustainably or digitally transforms the economy
  • Revenues: agnostic

Program details

  • Duration: 4 months
  • Participation fee: 1% equity after Bootcamp
  • Equity Investment: €265,000 available for investments
  • Grant: -
  • No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications): 1 open call each Fall
  • No. of startups in a cohort: 20

Q&A with Alexandros Nousias, Managing Director at Envolve Entrepreneurship

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your acceleration program?

The single most important thing that we would like to see in a startup is a committed and diverse team, who can take their innovative solutions outside the country’s borders and scale rapidly. We are searching for teams with a strong vision, that can communicate effectively. Ultimately, we are searching for solutions that meet our thematic impact, present an innovative approach with the ability to scale across markets. 

We strongly consider the teams’ willingness to learn, adapt and receive feedback from our industry experts and our team. In a fast-changing environment, teams and businesses that can pivot effectively, receive feedback, and continuously adapt to market needs have what it takes to succeed. 

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program?

The startups that stand out are those who have expressed their commitment to their ventures and their participation in Envolve XL accelerator. Their time and resources, as well as those of our Industry Experts Network, are valuable. So, it is important that they receive the maximum out of this program, displaying proven growth. We advise startups who are interested in applying to our program, to make sure their innovative solutions align with our accelerator’s focus, tapping into the sustainable and digital transformation of the economy, therefore the society we live in. 

We are aiming for multiplied impact, and we are searching for 100 startups in 5 years, who will serve as catalysts for change. 

Apart from our responsibility to evaluate the readiness of the startups for such a program, they should also be assessing if their team, product and business model are sufficiently developed and ready for an acceleration program. 

Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

One of the major red flags that we have identified is when teams are not fully committed to their ventures. Most startups start as side hustles, which they develop on their free time, after their 9-to-5 jobs, although we want to see that they have a clear roadmap on when their venture will be their full-time business. An intensive acceleration program requires commitment from the team and sufficient engagement to the program’s activities and sessions, allowing them to gain our support to the fullest. 

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

Envolve XL consists of 3 stages. For each stage, we aim to help the team validate three main aspects of their business, starting with the product/service validation. Once we have completed that, we continue to the business model validation, to ensure that startups have a clear path on how to be financially sustainable, and, lastly, we conclude with the market validation and investment readiness of these ventures, where the teams test their fit with the respective markets and investment attractiveness. 

But apart from the business aspects, the cohort members will develop their soft skills, such as effective communication, managing a team, engaging with potential investors, and grasping market and societal trends. 

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

Envolve XL cohort members receive extensive training on their product development, business validation and investment attractiveness. Besides trainings and workshops, they have access to Founders’ Talks, where they have the chance to meet and discuss with seasoned startup founders and serial entrepreneurs, they have access to networking opportunities, through which we aim to foster synergies and rapid penetration into the market, access to a marketplace with perks, including pro bono or heavily discounted services from an extensive network of partners, to help them grow more effectively and efficiently. 

With the completion of the program, we stand by them as advisors, providing also continuous access to our Industry Experts Network, where professionals from all over the globe provide substantial support, each one on their own expertise, guiding the teams through challenges, sharing their best practices and experience, especially when such an expert’s opinion is much needed. 

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

As one of the longest standing startup support organizations based in Greece, we have met thousands of entrepreneurs and have fueled 37 teams from 20 different sectors with over €6 million, through Envolve Award Greece, our former flagship program until 2022. We are proud to have supported numerous successful startups, since our establishment in 2012, that have achieved remarkable growth and impact to our society and economy. 

While each one of our portfolio companies is unique and have set their own small steps, some notable examples include Blueground, a recently announced unicorn that revolutionized the short term lease accommodation services for corporate housing, RTsafe that has taken major steps in enhancing patients’ treatment on radiology/oncology, Ferryhopper that has revolutionized the way citizens and tourists travel around the plethora of Greek and other European islands, and the list goes on. 

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

For startups that did not unfold as anticipated, we have confirmed the importance of thorough market research and validation, as well as this of building a committed and resilient team before approaching the first customers. 

Additionally, the resistance to agile adaptation in response to changing circumstances and those who do not prioritize clear and concise communication with their team, have been proven key driving forces for failure. Choosing the right people to work with, your business partners and companions on this journey, is usually even more important than the business idea itself. 

Why, in your opinion, accelerators are becoming more popular nowadays?

We have observed ground-breaking innovative ideas by well-educated researchers, engineers, and tech-savvy founders, but when it comes to commercializing their research/solution and getting it to the market, they fail. The need for valuable and precise guidance on how to accelerate an innovative solution, transforming it into a financially sustainable venture, has rapidly increased the demand from those teams for support services offered in an acceleration program. That being said, organizations like us have identified those needs in the early-stage window and designed programs that tap into those specific needs of the ecosystem. 

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator, and where do you see the biggest hype?

As we are an industry-agnostic program, we do not necessarily look at specific sectors and trends. But we have identified, among the applications, that healthtech, traveltech, and fintech have a strong presence in our ecosystem. 

This could be related to recent crises in the respective industries, whether that is because of Covid, the need for a more sustainable way of transportation or the downfall of the more traditional way of banking and the shift towards neobanks and fintech solutions. 

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

Predicting the future of the European acceleration ecosystem, undoubtedly calls for the need to consider current trends and potential changes that are coming our way, as conscious citizens of this region. 

Considering the region’s strength and foreseen growth in research and innovation, we expect a rise in accelerators tapping into deeptech solutions, since AI is also dominating today’s world and it is here to stay. Also, quite an intensive increase on impact investing schemes surely indicates an increasing emphasis on impact-driven startups that utilize today’s innovation for the sake of tomorrow’s sustainable development. 

Lastly, ecosystem intercollaboration is much needed and will, for sure, witness rapid growth in the near future, as societies’ needs for adaptation to ever-changing people’s habits can benefit from exchanging best practices and co-creating solutions for the benefit of all. 

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