Pitch Deck Crafting Webinar

16th of April 2:00 pm CET

13 July 2023·8 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - FIRSTPICK

Are you a startup blending SaaS, Fintech, and a Better World mission with cutting-edge technology? With their pre-acceleration and acceleration programs, FIRSTPICK offers the perfect blend of investment and knowledge to help construct successful companies. Discover how FIRSTPICK is shaping the startup landscape in the Baltics and empowering founders to build successful companies.


Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: Baltics

Preferred industries: SaaS, Fintech, Better World

Company stage: Pre-seed.

Product stage: MVP, soft launch, PSF, PMF

Product type:  Software and hardware 

Revenues:  Pre-revenue / Revenues / Traction driven proof


Program Details

Duration: 4 months

Participation fee:  we do not charge for the programs

Equity Investment: 80K - 250K investment; Up to 10%

Grant: 5K EUR (per team member, up to 4 members)

No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications):  2-3 (looking for gems 24/7/365 )

No. of startups in a cohort: 6-8


Q&A with Marijus Andrijauskas, Head of Accelerator and Partner of FIRSTPICK

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

At FIRSTPICK, we carefully evaluate startups based on several key criteria to identify the most promising candidates for our acceleration program. The five most important things we look for are:

Strong Team (surprise, surprise! :) ): We believe, and we state it, that a capable and passionate team is vital for the success of any startup. We assess the team's expertise, commitment, and ability to execute their vision. We have several processes and exercises in the selection process. But surely, the real picture appears during the program, with real world stress tests.

Then we look for innovative ideas that solve real problems, introduce new technologies, or disrupt traditional industries. We assess the market potential and scalability of the startup's product or service, considering a large and growing market as a positive indicator. Traction and potential for future growth, including market validation, customer acquisition, and revenue generation, are crucial factors. We also value coachability in startups, prioritizing those who are open to feedback, willing to learn, and adaptable to incorporate mentorship and guidance for their growth. But our beloved criteria is - ability to hustle :)

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

We highly value openness to collaboration. We foster an environment that emphasizes collaboration and networking, encouraging startups to engage with mentors, experts, and fellow founders in the ecosystem. Can you imagine an accelerator without night talks on the terrace? Or experience sharing walking in the woods. Difficult, right?. Additionally, commitment and availability are crucial factors for success in our program. Joining an acceleration program requires dedication and active participation from the startup's team. Startups should assess their availability to make the most of the opportunities offered and fully engage with the program to maximize their growth potential. 

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

While it is not necessarily a disqualifying red flag, we see that cap table issues can be a common challenge faced by startups in our region, especially concerning early stage investors or angels. At FIRSTPICK, we understand the complexities involved and have experience in helping startups resolve these issues. We provide guidance and support to startups in navigating cap table concerns, ensuring they have a solid foundation for growth. Our aim is to assist founders in addressing these challenges, enabling them to focus on building their businesses and unlocking their full potential. 

Other than that, it is all about chemistry. If you love what you do the same way we love what we do, flags are just temporary challenges.

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

On a hygiene level, I'd be happy to say Strategic planning and execution, Sales process and execution, Hiring and company building, Investor readiness and fundraising and many many more depending on individual founders maturity. BUT, most important part, we at FIRSTPICK are sweating hard, to unlock founders ambitions. With the right ambitions you may setup the right goals, and with the right goals, execution becomes the king. 

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

At FIRSTPICK, our support for portfolio companies extends way beyond the duration of the program. During the program, we provide various resources and assistance to help startups thrive. 

Mentorship and Coaching: Each portfolio company is paired with experienced mentors who provide guidance, expertise, and feedback. Regular check-ins, workshops, and one-on-one sessions help startups address challenges and make informed decisions.

Network and Partnerships: Our accelerator fosters a collaborative environment, allowing portfolio companies to connect and learn from each other. We organize networking events, side chats with different founders, industry-specific meetups, and facilitate partnerships with potential customers and strategic partners.

Workshops: We organize tailored workshops to enhance specific skills and knowledge areas. Topics include marketing, sales, finance, legal aspects, and more.

Alumni Community: Even after the program, portfolio companies remain a part of our alumni community. They continue to benefit from ongoing support, access to our network, and participation in exclusive events and initiatives.

Access to Investors: We facilitate connections between portfolio companies and our extensive network of investors. This includes various events, introductions, and assistance with fundraising strategies.

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

We just started our journey and we already are the most active investor in Baltics in 2023 H1, with 14 new investments and 6 planned for H2.  We take pride in the success of the companies that have been a part of our portfolio. While it's challenging to single out specific companies, we have seen remarkable growth and achievements across various sectors. Some of our portfolio companies have experienced significant funding rounds, expansion into new markets, and notable customer acquisitions. We encourage readers to visit our website firstpick.vc or LinkedIn to explore our portfolio and learn more about the success stories.

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

Failure is an essential part of the startup journey, often offering valuable insights and learning opportunities. One key lesson we have learned at FIRSTPICK is that market timing and fit play a critical role in a startup's success. Even with a great idea, entering a market that is not yet ready or facing intense competition can pose significant challenges. Good timing, aligning the launch of a product or service with market demand, can be a differentiating factor for startups. Additionally, we have seen exceptional founders who face challenges head-on, adapting their strategies and persevering through obstacles. These founders demonstrate resilience, creativity, and a strong ability to navigate the ever-changing startup landscape, ultimately positioning themselves for long-term success.

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

Firstly, the startup ecosystem has grown rapidly, with an increasing number of entrepreneurs launching innovative ventures. Accelerators provide a structured and supportive environment for these startups, offering mentorship, resources, and access to networks that can greatly accelerate their growth. Secondly, accelerators have proven to be effective in bridging the gap between startups and investors. They help startups refine their business models, develop traction, and become investor-ready, increasing their chances of securing funding. Thirdly, accelerators foster a collaborative community where startups can learn from experienced mentors and peers, sharing insights and best practices. This supportive ecosystem creates opportunities for partnerships, collaborations, and knowledge exchange. Lastly, the success stories of startups that have graduated from accelerators have attracted attention and generated a positive reputation for these programs, further fueling their popularity. Overall, accelerators serve as catalysts for startup success, driving innovation, and contributing to the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

On the other hand, it is not easy to build a working, awesome and successful accelerator. You should have a purple heart.

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

AI is buzzing the world, maybe not too much in our region, so we encourage our fellow founders to hustle more. As an accelerator, we closely monitor emerging trends and promising markets. While our investment focus areas may evolve over time, there are several sectors that currently pique our interest due to their potential for growth and innovation -  BioTech, Sustainable finance and FinCrime, Agricultural technology, Data and personalization, Life science and healthcare. Most of them lead to a Better World category that we at FIRSTPICK deeply looking after.

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

The actual trends that shape the European accelerator scene will depend on a multitude of factors, including market dynamics, regulatory environments, technological advancements, and global trends. Watching dynamics in the AI field, our prediction would be very related to this trend.


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