US VC heavyweight Sequoia has announced the 17 European seed-stage companies in the inaugural cohort of its startup accelerator programme Arc, starting Monday.
The eight-week programme will run to July 15, and give participants time with some of Europe’s top founders and operators to strengthen company building skills. Additionally, Sequoia will invest $1m up-front in each selected startup.
The accelerator forms part of a larger trend of VCs looking to establish relationships with companies at an earlier stage through angel and scout programmes (Sequoia also has a scout programme in Europe). Sequoia invests from seed all the way to late stage.
For Sequoia, building relationships with companies from their earliest days is particularly important. “Our business is built around this idea of trying to find people as early as we can and be in business with them for as long as we can,” Sequoia partner George Robson explains.
One question that often comes up when VCs invest in companies through programmes such as this is whether they’ll put more money in at later rounds. Some founders say it can send a negative signal if a VC doesn’t follow-on.
Robson says that Sequoia thinks about the accelerator programme “in that context of trying to build an enduring relationship,” citing the fact that Sequoia often participates in multiple rounds for companies on their way to a public listing. “We believe that there's a signalling advantage for companies that participate in Arc,” he says.
Despite the various sources of instability affecting the market, Robson says Sequoia’s advice is to “encourage [the startups] to focus on factors that they can control inside of the building, by investing in R&D behind their products, [and] thinking very carefully about the channels that work for them.”
The cohort hails from 13 countries and includes 33 founders across Europe, including six female founders. The members of this cohort come from “all walks of life”, including founders from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. The selected companies span a wide-range of fields, from AI to edtech.
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So, which companies made the first cohort? Two companies in stealth are not included on this list.
- Synativ - Synative uses the latest AI research to support companies that create computer vision solutions to train models and generate high-quality images.
- Telescope - Through using advanced machine learning, Telescope acts like a B2B sales assistant which can monitor, create outreach emails and close deals through using machine learning.
- Twain - Twain is a free Google Chrome extension, which acts as a virtual sales coach. By utilising natural language generation, Twain hopes to help salespeople communicate more effectively.
- Akeero - Cybersecurity is becoming ever more urgent and important, and that’s where Akeero steps in. The security design platform seeks to enable teams to collaboratively build secure apps for cloud products.
- Baselime - Serverless architecture offers greater scalability and resilience for software engineers - but this brave new world is also extraordinarily complex. Baselime hopes to help software developers better understand and utilise serverless architecture through its system of automated dashboards and alerts.
- Calliper - Startups want to make the most of their data, but in reality data is stored and processed in a fragmented way. Calliper seeks to change this by providing a plug-and-play mission control centre which aggregates all operational data in one place, and highlighting the most important insights.
- CreatorSpace - Finding the right collaborators can be hard, and it’s easy to end up falling back on old university networks and local groups. CreatorSpace wants to change this by helping engineers, designers and content creators to find collaborators with the right skills and interests to work together.
- Fides - Munich-based Fides seeks to digitalise corporate compliance by building an all-in-one management governance platform, which also provides a secure audit trail for corporations.
- Popsink - Based in Munich and Paris, Popsink aims to build innovative data tools to build real-time data jobs for continuous operations, without the hassle of scripting.
- RevMap - RevMap is on a mission to fix the product sales feedback loop and help companies find the right product for the market faster. Through gamifying teamwork, the platform seeks to encourage greater collaboration between product and sales teams.
- Surein - The Berlin-based platform empowers small businesses to choose the right level of insurance, through providing personalised recommendations through its automated advisor.
- Choice Options (no website) - Whether it’s choosing which Netflix films to watch, or deciding which AirBnB to book, consumers today are faced with a “paradox of choice”. Choice Options wants to help consumers discover the films, music and destinations that they’d enjoy, whilst utilising responsible algorithms.
- Studeo - The London-based edtech company wants to make quality education more accessible for students. Their app packages together short videos from tutors, practice tests, flashcards and a community forum, and is intended to encourage more efficient learning.
- Xelda - The payment app removes the hassle of paying through a card machine. The app enables people to send and receive money through simply scanning QR codes on their phones.
- Otto Finance - The London-based platform wants to make financial support services accessible to employers and employees alike. Through its package of coaching and educational resources, Otto strives to give employees more control of their financial health.