After 3 successful acceleration programmes, BlockStart came to an end. To celebrate our journey, we present you a video summarizing everything we achieved, how we achieved and, most importantly, with whom we achieved such outstanding results:
If you would rather get to know our story in a written format, please check the text below.
From September 2019 to April 2022, technology evolved and blockchain kept on its growth. And speaking of that, let us introduce you to BlockStart. BlockStart was an EU-funded blockchain accelerator. It provided almost €800,000 equity-free in 3 programmes. It supported 60 solution providers and 67 end-user SMEs. These companies came from different sectors, like retail, fintech, and ICT. 3 entities managed BlockStart: Bright Pixel, an early-stage VC investor in B2B software startups; CIVITTA, a leading innovation consultancy in the Eastern and Central Europe; and F6S, a global tech founders’ community.
BlockStart held 3 acceleration programmes. Each started with an Ideation Kick-off event, lasting around 2 days. 20 to 23 startups had the chance to pitch and meet several SMEs. After that, we entered the Prototype stage. During 4 months, 10 startups developed and validated their MVP. And finally, we arrived at the Pilot stage. For 2 months, 5 to 6 startups implemented pilots in SMEs and pitched at a Demo Day.
BlockStart had a lot to offer to its participants. Equity-free funding served as an initial stimulus. But the true value came from market validation and growth support, with a group of mentors with very different profiles. In that group, there were Investors, Founders, CTOs, Business Developers. All contributing to transform ideas and technologies into products and businesses. And, of course, BlockStart provided several moments of networking.
BlockStart also generated some interesting stats. It received applications from 317 startups and 173 SMEs, coming from 55 countries. With pilots implemented in 55 companies and over 200 mentoring sessions held, which led BlockStart to a satisfaction rate of over 90%. A programme that caught the attention of the public, considering that over 250 press articles and more than 800 social media referrals were created about BlockStart.
At the end of the day, there were 60 startups and 67 SME adopters. Let’s give credit to the finalists among them, shall we? Starting with 2bSMART, IoT for a covid free office. There was also Datarella, tracking for supply chains. REXS.IO, data notarization. Kedeon, last-mile delivery monitoring. And Infidia, invoice verification for invoice financing. These were the 1st acceleration programme finalists. Moving on to the 2nd programme, it’s time to talk about its 5 finalists. There was ComeTogether, ticketing with health passport. IBISA, platform for agriculture insurance. Knowtary, digital document certification. LoanXchain, secondary loan marketplace. And Motoblockchain, digital identity for motorcycles. And the finalists for the 3rd and last programme were AgeVolt, EV charging digital ecosystem. BlockFrauds, fraud detection for insurance. BlockTac, blockchain of things devices. Comunitaria, social currency enabled by solar energy. There was also Digital Village, social metaverse. And HOPU, industrial emissions monitoring.
But why talk about the protagonists, when we can hear directly from them:
“I would like to thank BlockStart team for the great support received during BlockStart programme. We were able to develop 2 IoT prototypes and also to test them with 4 different early adopters. The funding received, also if limited, was really useful in our case, because it led us to develop a prototype that alternatively should have remained in idea stage. A personal agreement goes to João Fernandes, who was really always available to support us, and who helped us spreading Motoblockchain’s message through invitation in several online events. BlockStart was definitively an awesome positive experience for us. I really thank you for this great opportunity.”
Simone Brighina, CEO & Founder, Motoblockchain
“Our experience with BlockStart was incredible. We got to work with European SMEs, we validated our product, all the way from the marketplace and metaverse, and the blockchain interface Village Protocol side. We created several demos and prototypes with our clients. We understood what our clients need and how we can really develop our product further. We got to meet experts and investors. We got mentored by João himself, and I think BlockStart has contributed to the success of Digital Village tremendously. We’ve raised since joining BlockStart over $2M and gathered over $200k of grants, so thank you so much for having us, it’s been a pleasure.”
Evelyn Mora, CEO & Founder, Digital Village
“Great recommendation for BlockStart from my side. I really feel that we’re building the future of blockchain-based finance together. And I’m really thankful to their great people, such as João and Ugnius. And I feel grateful for being a part of their ecosystem as well, being a judge and a mentor and meeting some great startups along the way. Let’s build the future of blockchain together, and start with BlockStart.”
Mirko Kikovic, CEO & Co-Founder, Infidia
“It’s been brilliant being part of BlockStart. The mentoring has been excellent. A particular shout-out to João Fernandes, and also to Mirko Kikovic of Infidia, from cohort 1, who is a particular star too. So, thank you both. And BlockStart also helped us focus earlier than we’d planned on SMEs. And we are so glad that we did, because the value that is out there, the sheer scope and agility in collaboration has been incredibly valuable for our business. So, thank you for that BlockStart.”
Roanna Doe, CEO & Co-Founder, BlockFrauds
BlockStart allowed some companies to achieve big accomplishments. For example, Datarella signed a two-year contract with the European Space Agency. And there were several funding rounds from VCs that deserve attention. Like IBISA, who got €1.5M. And Digital Village, raising $2M. As you can see, BlockStart had real impact. Since the start of the programme, startups attracted more than 120 clients. Hired 60 employees. Received €5M in public grants. And raised €13M of private investments.
All these facts allow us to say that BlockStart was much more than an accelerator. It was an ecosystem builder. It empowered startups, SMEs, associations, investors, and policymakers. This empowerment was achieved with practical knowledge of blockchain challenges and use cases. 30 events. The “Do you need blockchain?” assessment tool. 15 public reports about blockchain. Newsletters, more than 100 blog posts, over 900 social media posts. Fostering digital communities with hundreds of members, in Slack and Telegram.
As a conclusion, let’s give space to a few final words from some of the key people behind BlockStart:
“BlockStart challenged blockchain startups to go beyond technology and validate its product/market fit. Facilitating win-win partnerships between solution developers and SMEs, in the form of pilots, commercial agreements and even joint ventures.”
João Fernandes, Project Manager & Investment Analyst, Bright Pixel
“In parallel to the acceleration services, we organized dozens of events, exploring several blockchain-related themes. From NFTs and DeFi, to sustainability and self-regulation. We demystified blockchain and went beyond the hype, explaining the potential of Web3 and showcasing specific examples of how this technology can help the Society be a better place.”
Laura Šėrytė, Project Manager, CIVITTA
Jovita Tautkevičiūtė, Innovation Consultant, CIVITTA
Vytautas Černiauskas, Expert, CIVITTA
“Yes, BlockStart came to an end. But we hope that, through our website, with all the companies’ profiles, reports, articles and videos, its impact endures for years to come.”
Inês Melo e Faro, Communication Manager, F6S
The truth is that this project counted on an essential support: the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. To the European Commission, and everyone who was a part of BlockStart’s journey, we express our deepest gratitude. Thank you!