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startup accelerator of the month by vestbee.com
24 November 2023·9 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month: Culttech

Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: Europe, based in Vienna
Preferred industries: Culttech - Culture technology, including: music, art, cultural heritage, performance, literature, any tech solution that help make culture more accessible and sustainable to all
Company stage: Pre-seed
Product stage: MVP and above
Product type:  All, software, hardware, app, blockchain, AI etc.
Revenues:  Pre-revenue

Program Details

Duration: 6 months
Participation fee:  Success fee of 5% up to 18 months after the accelerator program has ended (capped at €30,000). And a commitment deposit of a €1000 that gets returned at the end of the program if the participant has completed the program requirements.
Equity Investment: equity-free
Grant: No
No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications):  1 batch per year. Rolling applications all year long and selection process from November until the end of January 2024.
No. of startups in a cohort: 18-20

Q&A with Samanta Peña, Head of Culttech Accelerator

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

When evaluating startups for our acceleration program, we prioritize the following key factors:

  • Culttech Industry Focus: We seek startups that actively engage with the Culttech space, looking to create a positive impact to the culture sector through a technological solution, especially if it makes culture more accessible to all.
  • Team: A crucial element is the composition of the startup team, both for their diverse experience and their attitude. We look for founders with who are eager to learn and contribute to the sector positively and to the Culttech community.
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): We look for startups that are at an MVP stage or close to having an MVP. A tangible demonstration of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is always a plus. Startups should showcase a prototype or functional product during the selection process to illustrate their commitment to tangible progress and the potential for further development.
  • Registered Legal Entity: To qualify for our program, startups must be established a legal entity. This criterion ensures a level of commitment and professionalism, aligning with the program's standards and expectations.
  • Understanding of Business Model: Having an idea of how your business model will operate. At this stage we understand this might change, but we’re looking to see how scalable and feasible the startup’s offering is even if it changes. This is also something we will help founders validate during the program.

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

Before applying to our acceleration program, startups should consider the following factors:

  • Culttech focus: We’re looking for startups in the Culttech space that apply  technology to the benefit of culture and society. This means it has the potential to empower creators and consumers, enable massive access to culture & foster new economic models.
  • Establishing and Scaling: We have a specific focus on helping you establish your startups with strong business fundamentals, and learn the essentials of fundraising and building a scalable business, also focusing on the development of the entrepreneurs themselves. Startups should carefully assess whether our program's emphasis aligns with their specific requirements. Understanding the program's resources and support in the context is essential for a mutually beneficial partnership.
  • Time Allocation: Successful participation in our program requires dedicated commitment. It is crucial that at least one of the founders actively engages in program activities, sessions, and mentorship opportunities. As the saying goes, "you get out what you put in," emphasizing the importance of investing time and effort to maximize the benefits derived from the program.

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

We don't have a specific list of things to avoid, but if a startup doesn't meet our basic requirements, they might not qualify for our accelerator program. For example, if a startup isn't working in the Culttech industry, doesn't have a solid team or an MVP, hasn't officially registered their business, or doesn't really understand their business model, it could mean they're not a good fit for our program, and they might not be eligible to join. 

We also try to make sure the startup is at the right time in their growth to benefit from our program, so it’s not so much about the red flags as much as making sure that the founders get as much value as possible from the time they invest.

Green flags, on the other hand, we appreciate is showing your enthusiasm and commitment to learning and actively contributing to the community. 

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

Startups participating in our program have the chance to enhance several essential skills, including:

  • Fundraising and Business Building: Our program equips startups with a comprehensive understanding of the fundraising process, helping them develop expertise in investor relations, team building, and strategy.
  • Market Adaptation and Customer Understanding: Startups in our program gain skills to not only comprehend, but also adapt to the dynamic demands. This involves a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences, enabling startups to tailor their offerings to meet market expectations and stay ahead of industry trends.
  • Founder Development: as an entrepreneur, we focus as well on building their confidence in their skills set, especially as first time founders, to help them scale their teams and their businesses.
  • Collaboration in a Supportive Community: Being part of our Culttech-focused accelerator provides startups with the opportunity to learn the art of collaboration within a community of like-minded founders. This collaborative environment fosters knowledge exchange and allows building synergistic partnerships, as well as a deep support system amongst founders.

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

Our accelerator offers support to portfolio companies throughout and beyond the program:

  • During the Program: We provide tailored mentorship, offering focused support to address specific challenges in the Culttech domain, with a particular emphasis on fundraising. Our mentors, who are industry experts, work closely with portfolio companies, ensuring that they receive targeted guidance tailored to their unique needs.
  • After the Program: We facilitate network expansion for our portfolio companies. This involves providing opportunities to connect with influential industry leaders, potential customers, and investors within the Culttech space. By fostering these connections, we aim to create lasting partnerships that contribute to the continued growth and success of our portfolio companies well into the future. We always keep our alumni in mind for any interesting opportunities that arise!

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

  • Matchspace Music - a leading full-service platform that makes music education easy. Music teachers can market themselves better, earn more, and manage their students and lessons in the Match Space Music web app. Students find the right teacher, set their schedule, and enjoy an improved learning environment.
  • Quantic Brains - Quantic Brains builds Gen. AI brains for 3D characters that allow audiovisual content to be automatically generated. Quantic creates the dialogue, scripts, voices, the music, the characters are animated, and the content is produced entirely within the app.
  • enote - music technology startup using AI to bring centuries of written music into a reliable, flexible, and accessible digital standard.

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

From projects that didn't unfold as expected, we've learned invaluable lessons such as:

  • The Importance of Market Validation: We've learned the critical significance of early market validation. Testing startups’ offerings at the very beginning is crucial to ensure what customers want and need. We've learned that understanding the market before investing heavily in the product itself is instrumental for success.
  • Adaptability and Learning from Failures: These experiences showed us how crucial it is to be adaptable and build a culture that's ok with learning from mistakes. It's all about having a mindset that sees setbacks as chances to get smarter and stronger. Making sure folks can talk openly and share feedback easily creates a space where everyone can innovate better and handle challenges more flexibly.
  • Team: Have the right team and dynamic is important not just in terms of skill set but in terms of communication and trust. Most startup projects that fail are due to issues between team members, that make it hard to align on vision and subsequently the direction of the company will take.

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

Accelerators, particularly those like Culttech, are experiencing a surge in popularity for several compelling reasons. Firstly, their specialized focus on niche areas, such as the convergence of technology, art, and culture in the case of Culttech, addresses emerging and underserved markets. This targeted approach allows startups to receive tailored support and guidance. Additionally, accelerators serve as hubs for founders seeking community and mentorship. It’s the opportunity for founders to connect and share experiences, as it can be quite an isolating experience without a proper support system.

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

One of the hottest markets capturing our attention is the realm of Digital Experiences and Interactive Art. The mix of technology and artistic expression is getting a lot of people excited. We think this coming together has the potential to shape the future of cultural engagement in ways that really connect with today's audiences. As well as, of course, AI which is by far the most hyped technology at the moment which is creating very interesting solutions for the cultural space, unlocking a whole new level of creativity and possibilities. 

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

We expect to see more collaboration among European accelerator programs. There might be new accelerators popping up, focusing on specific industries as well. Also, there's a noticeable push for sustainability and social responsibility in the startup world, no matter the industry. It shows a larger dedication to entrepreneurship that's driven by a sense of purpose. But there is a clear indication of growth and renewed focus at a European level for the culture and creativity sector, which is incredibly exciting to see! We’re excited to start seeing the consolidation of this wonderful Culttech sector!

Related Posts:

Startup Accelerator Of The Month: Katalista Ventures (by Martyna Konys, Program Manager, Vestbee)

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Forest Valley (by Martyna Konys, Program Manager, Vestbee)

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - AceON (by Martyna Konys, Program Manager, Vestbee)



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