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accelerator of the month rubikhub by vestbee
03 November 2022·8 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Rubik Hub

Rubik Garage is an equity-free accelerator developed by Rubik Hub (from Romania), designed for early-stage CEE startups looking to reach their first paying customer, raise a first investment round, or scale internationally. The intensive 4-month acceleration journey starts with an in-person Founders’ Bootcamp in Piatra Neamt, Romania, and ends with a Demo Day. For the most motivated teams, the journey continues in the next 6 months by being selected for Rubik Hub’s investement-readiness program.

Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: CEE (located in Romania)
Preferred industries: medtech, climate, fintech, impact
Company stage: Early-stage
Product stage: at least functional MVP
Product type:  no preferences
Revenues: no preferences

Program Details

Duration: 4 months
Participation fee: No fee
Equity Investment: No equity
Grant: 6000 euro total grants  (the amount could change)
No. of batches per year: 2 batches per year (applications open between February-March, September-October)
No. of startups in a cohort: 22

Q&A with Alexandra Hutanu, Startup Community Builder & Marketer at Rubik Hub

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

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

  • The team is our top criterion and we know it’s highly important for investors as well. One of the top reasons startups fail is not having the right team, so we look carefully into this.
  • Focus - how many hours are the founders dedicating to the startup per week? How many team members are involved full-time? We are looking for founders fully involved in their startup.
  • Validation - has the solution been thoroughly validated on the market?
  • Product-market fit - does the startup have an in-depth understanding of its customers? Is their solution the right fit for their needs?
  • Cochability - we evaluate the willingness of startups to consider and integrate both our feedback and the feedback received from mentors in our community. Did they participate in other programs? What was their progress there?

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

First of all, founders should thoroughly study our acceleration program and make sure this is the right fit for them. It would also help to read about what Rubik Hub does and understand that we are community-focused. Our motto is that #WeAreInThisTogether and behind “We” stays strong community of 150+ mentors including investors, startup founders, representatives of academia and experts in different fields.

We also believe in #GiveBeforeYouGet. The success comes from the understanding  from the beginning that collaboration is the key that we had to bet on. That’s why, we surrounded ourselves with people willing to help unconditionally. Therefore, the founders applying to our programs should think about the contribution they can bring to other entrepreneurs. 

Last but not least, startup teams should consider their level of commitment - all our programs are free-of-charge and equity-free, but the founders have to be committed to attending all of the sessions and pro-actively contributing to the community. 

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

First of all, we look at the level of commitment - how many hours are founders willing to put into our accelerator? How many team members are working full-time for the startup? If they are not treating startup development as their core activity while joining the program - it’s an obvious no-go for us. 

Then, technical skills with no business validation are worrisome. In this case, we recommend that founders complete first our incubation program, and from there they can fast-track to our accelerator. 

Solo founders are not necessarily disqualified, but we know their journey is much more difficult and they are more likely to fail. Of course, finding a co-founder can be your main goal, so then we could help with connecting you to the right person. 

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

In our Rubik Garage Accelerator, we have over 30 workshops focused on different topics, such as go-to-market strategy, building a community, getting ready for an investment, or getting ready for a pitch. However, we believe the most valuable skill founders develop while working with us is networking - both discovering its power and learning how to leverage it. 

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

During the accelerator, we have 1:1 meetings with all startups, to better understand if how we can support them in their acceleration journey. According to founders’ needs, we can connect them with right mentors. There is also a possibility for startups to receive from us free tickets to conferences or events. 

Our goal is to give founders all the support they need to grow rapidly and sustainably. Once they are part of our Rubikorns community (as we call it), the founders have access to a Startup Package Support inclusive of $150,000 credits in total and other perks, freebies and discounts (available during and after the accelerator). We secured partnerships with strong players, such as Notion, AWS, Miro, HubSpot. Under the concept “House of Startups”, we also offer support in finding accommodation in Piatra Neamt, Romania, where we are located. Also, the startups can work from our hub free of charge - yeah, we also have a beautiful 1800 square meters coworking space, surrounded by forests and mountains. The startups also have the possibility to organize a retreat here for their entire team. 

When a program finishes, we don’t just end our relationship with the startups. We are ready to further support them in their growth journey by being there for them whenever they need us, connecting them with mentors from our community or giving an opportunity to become mentors themselves. Of course, everything depends on the founder. The success of our startups is our success, and we take pride in sharing their small or big victories on our channels. Also, promoting in our community the available jobs in their startups is another benefit we offer.

Moreover, for those looking to raise investment in the next months, we crafted an investment-readiness program, with workshops held by investors and 1:1 meetings tailored to their needs.

 What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

We have a great community of passionate founders and appreciate each one of them Many times, after participating in one of our programs, a founder becomes a mentor, wanting to give back what they have received. 

Between the best ones we distinguish: 

  • Digitail, an all-in-one veterinary software for modern veterinary practices that raised over 3.7 million USD. They have been supporting us right from the start and we are extremely grateful for this.
  • Bloomcoding, the online after-school that teaches children coding skills. Bloomcoding is the winner of Best Startup and SeedBlink Award of Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022, winner of Genesis Startup Academy by Meta 2022, winner at the Business Festival „sTARTUp Day 2022” from Tartu, Estonia, and finalist of How to Web Spotlight 2022.
  • Chambr, the startup that helps create learning games that increase content. They are the winner of Best Pitch and Popularity Award of Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022, and have been selected to pitch at Web Summit 2022.
  • Synaptiq, an AI-based contouring for radiotherapy. The startup helps doctors identify and delineate cancerous tumors and organs at risk with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Helperz, the first Romanian online platform for babysitting, pet sitting, elderly care and cleaning.
  • SMSO, an omnichannel communication platform for businesses..
  • TULIPR, a digital platform that streamlines the event planning process for businesses, agencies and event professionals. One of its female co-founders has been nominated in Forbes 30 under 30 Romania 2022.


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

Don’t spend so much time on non-coachable founders. We should not be more involved in their startup than they are. :) 

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

Accelerators bring immensurable value to founders with no networking. The power of collaboration is extremely valuable, as well as having access to trustworthy mentors ready to share their know-how and give objective and fair feedback. Also, vertical-focused accelerators or geo-focused accelerators are popular for the beachhead they can create for that market.

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

We just launched an accelerator focused on EU startups targeting the USA market (looking to launch there or raise investment in the next months). We have a great community of founders, mentors & investors in North America who can help early-stage startups with their 360 perspective on how it is to expand into the USA (cost-wise, competition-wise, legal-wise, and so on).

Also, we look up to the Nordics - they are climate-focused and have a lot of expertise in climate-related verticals. 

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

Maybe an accelerator in Metaverse? :) But nothing compares to face-to-face interaction, right? Don’t get us wrong, we are very passionate about technology, but the connection and synergy that you can feel when meeting in person are unachievable online. This is why we try to bring at least one offline component to each of our accelerators. 

 Related Posts: 

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

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

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - The Alpha Accelerator (by Dorota Potępa, Community Builder, Vestbee)

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