Allan Martinson, one of the most best known and experienced investors from Estonia (currently the founding and managing partner of MTVP), has cast concern about the amount of new accelerators and different support programs for startups. He states a valid point, that if every town and your brother has an accelerator they will fail to attract critical mass to support their functions. Martinson states that Baltics really need one big accelerator with strong financing and a strong team to make a splash in the global pond of startup activities.
There really cannot be too much discussion around this topic, and therefore we have included Allan Martinson’s original statement from his public Facebook status below.
Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Helsinki, we have a problem.
In the last 3-6 months we have seen a sudden explosion accelerators, “accelerators”, co-working spaces, support programs, “innovation awareness initiatives” etc in our region.
Going from North to South, we have serious attempts by Startup Sauna, Garage, Tehnopol, Startup Estonia, Techhub, Startup Highway, Startup Monthly, Gamma, probably I forgot somebody. On top of that, lots of also-runs and governments wasting their money.
Everybody is trying to do something in his corner but there is no critical mass (except maybe in Startup Sauna). What the Baltics needs is ONE strong pan-regional accelerator with strong financing and strong TEAM – 2-3 full-time people and 20-30 mentors who really have achieved something (having at least $100m worth of exits or $50m in annual revenues in their track record).
Only Startup Sauna (/barely) fills those criteria at the moment.
The only point of having accelerators is to produce early-stage startups. Simple criteria of success here is number of startups who have exited the accelerator and raised funding (minimum 100k EUR per startup in 12 months). An accelerator shall be able to produce at least 10 such successes a year (let’s say in 2 batches). If the success rate is 30% then you need to pass 30 startups thru the accelerator per year and have pool of 300-500 good quality projects per year.
This is impossible to achieve in one country only. We need a pan-Baltic thing.
The problem is that if the accelerator will not gain this critical mass it will lose its credit of trust in about a year. Mentors will not come because it’s waste of time, investors will not come because there are no decent companies etc.
We need somebody to put together a Baltic accelerator, perhaps a Baltic-Finnish one.
Who will pick this up, guys?
It’s fair concern on the efforts of the region currently. Countries should let go of their nationalistic interests at this point and work together to create something bigger. As one commenter to Martinson’s status update commented, “some still believe that entrepreneurship has a nationality”.