Startup life is hard. It's stressful. It causes premature wrinkles. It chews people up and spits them out.
What if I told you about a thriving startup ecosystem where you could end your work week with a dip in the Blue Lagoon while hot steam relieves the stress of your shoulders-- too good to be true, right?
It's real. It exists. It's in Iceland.
Iceland not only offers beautiful scenery, funny words like "snyrtingar" and the spectacular dance of the the northern lights -- it also has a growing entrepreneurial environment with top-notch accelerators.
We are pleased to bring you Accelerator of the Week #15: Startup Reykjavík
In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do?
Startup Reykjavik is an annual mentorship-driven seed stage investment program in Reykjavík Iceland.
What makes your program different or unique? What’s your primary value-add?
Iceland is a small, quirky and creative place. The Startup environment here has improved immensely in the past years and we like to think that we’ve played a role in that evolution, as the first program of our kind here.
We run a 10 week program in Reykjavik once each year. Selected companies get $16,000 in seed funding from Arion Bank as well as great perks such as free hosting and services, a nice place to work, ten weeks of intensive top-notch mentorship, and the chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program.
There is immeasurable value in the mentorship-driven connections and advice that you’ll receive when you start your company with Startup Reykjavik. Startup Reykjavik is a member of GAN, an invite-only community of the world’s most respected organizations that provide startups with the best resources to create and grow their businesses, wherever they are. Startups accepted into a GAN accelerator have access to a variety of exclusive perks including over $1M worth of free services, introductions to a network of investors and access to soft landing spaces worldwide.
What do you love the most about working with startups?
The creative energy! Startups have a can-do attitude that gives entrepreneurs the self-confidence that they can make a dream a reality. There’s a passage in Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic that really encapsulates the romance of chasing your dreams, even in the face of failure:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?
Focus! Starting a new company is a feat of endurance and it’s easy to get sidelined, distracted or disheartened. Remember why you were driven to this in the first place and keep your eye on the ball.
Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting companies to go through your program?
We’re only 4 years old but our companies have already acquired approximately $2.5 million in funding and continue to enjoy the benefits of participation and the guidance of their mentors, even after completing the accelerator. We are proud of the innovative and original ideas we have helped make a reality. Their success is our success. Read more about our alumni here.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your companies?
Programs such as Foundersuite offer entrepreneurs a way to make their work more organized and efficient. While we have only recently been introduced to Foundersuite, the pain-point they address is one we know quite well. We're excited to try it out.
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Have the difficult conversations early and have them often. Organization, goals and roles have to be clearly defined. If something is everyone’s responsibility it ends up being no one’s responsibility.