The Brazilian-American initiative accelerated four Brazilian startups, one of them winner of the Winter Expo
The first four Brazilian startups selected by the acceleration program April Plug and Play, created to unite Brazil to Silicon Valley, ended its activities last week, at Plug and Play headquarters. From here, the driven entrepreneurs of OneTwo, Zase, TraktoPRO and TruckPad left for Brazil with new perspectives and business strategies. The startups spent seven months in acceleration, three of them in the Valley, between pitch sessions, mentoring and networking with experienced professionals from different parts of the world. In addition, each startup received seed capital in the amount of US$50 thousand.
“The focus of this program is on mobile technology and we have selected startups that already had a product on the market with an app in the store and users. So our job was to make their products take off, indicate necessary adjustments or pivot the business, if necessary, explains the business manager of Abril Plug and Play, Guilherme Massa.
Massa says that the acceleration program sought to look at each startup, uniquely, creating ‘one of a kind’ experience for the entrepreneurs, according to the market and level of development of each business.
“We called professionals with market experience and from various business fronts to provide mentoring, addressing all issues necessary for the development of these startups. We have created a system where we offer diagnoses early in the process, placing specific mentors depending on the needs of each startup. It is a full transformation, “said Massa.
The partnership between Abril with the accelerator Plug and Play, was essential to give a more complete experience to Brazilian entrepreneurs, according to Massa.
“We realized that the Brazilian market for startups is growing, there are several acceleration and support programs from the federal and the states governments, but there was not that bridge to Silicon Valley. We do not intend to replicate the Valley in Brazil, but we want to show that you can develop global Brazilian companies, “he explains.
According to Daniel Grossi, also business manager of Abril Plug and Play, some of the selection criteria adopted by the acceleration program was the entrepreneur’s experience in the line of business chosen and his expertise in digital products. He also says that an important feature valued by the program is the quality of the entrepreneurs, much more than their business model.
“We selected promising teams, most of all, since they do not even have clients and sufficient revenue yet to say whether that model is valid and scalable. The important thing is that these entrepreneurs are empowered to change their course, if necessary, in the best possible way, spending the least money and time,” says Grossi.
‘Changing the business route’ or ‘pivot’ are common expressions in the acceleration process of startups. According to the executive director of the project, Rogério Tamassia, that’s exactly what happened to two of the participating startups. “In this business validation phase you can get the expected results or be surprised. This is a normal process and we are actually proud of them for being able to pivot quickly, “says Tamassia.
Zase, the biggest pivot of all, according to the program’s managers, started in the acceleration program offering a type of digital loyalty card to consumers, focused on bars and restaurants. During the acceleration in the April Plug and Play program, the startup became a loyalty tool, which works through check-ins made by consumers, via Facebook, at shops and entertainment places. Zase’s app users can earn points and redeem rewards according to the number of check-ins. In addition, the startup functions as a CRM tool for businesses owners, providing them contact information, gender and customer frequency in their establishment.
Abril is one of the largest media groups in Latin America and it has a dedicated sector to seek new digital business for the company, which Massa, Grossi and Tamassia are part. The goal of creating the accelerator, they say, is to promote a cultural change in the company, seeking new innovative business for Abril. Hence, the company’s interest in joining the discovery process of new startups.
Abril Plug and Play was launched in February of this year and received more than 1,000 candidates in its first selection, with about 250 entries that met all the requirements. Of these, 20 startups were selected for the classification pitch, at Abril, with the presence of judges of Abril and Plug and Play, who chose the best four. For the second group of entrepreneurs who start the acceleration at Abril on December 15th, the number of applications doubled the previous.