The EiR Program in Retrospect
Lessons From an EiR and VD
Once again, we’re thrilled by the growing interest in our EiR program. Over the past few months, we’ve received hundreds of applications from enthusiastic entrepreneurs interested in joining our new initiative.
As part of Next Big Thing AG’s second EiR cohort, we continued the search for individuals who excel in the areas of Construction Tech, PropTech, Industry 4.0, DLT, and Pharma — all falling under the popular topic of the Machine Economy.
Each potential founder was selected to take part in the program based on their personal merits and their alignment to NBT’s overall portfolio strategy and technology fit.
Since our EiR program is still a fairly new initiative, we continue to make this process a learning experience so that in the future, we can develop the most efficient venture-building methodology to fast-track the development of B2B companies in the fields of IoT, ML, and DLT.
We are more inspired and motivated than ever to ensure that YOU — the future founder — build the ‘best in class’ company with us, today.
💡EiR Program Recap
NBT’s four-month EiR program is aimed at entrepreneurs who are inspired to build, test, and refine new ideas into venture-funded companies. The program itself is divided into 6 stages of venture development, where each EiR will need to achieve predetermined milestones by the end of each sprint.
As a committed technical co-founder, NBT provides you with the necessary toolkit —Engineering, Marketing, Design, Growth, Legal, and Operations — to build your very own startup from scratch.
To give you a better idea of what to expect from the EiR program, we’ve conducted a retrospective Q&A with an EiR and venture developer who has lived the NBT experience.
🧗♀️ Why Do A Retrospective?
NBT believes in conducting a retrospective because we want to take every opportunity to learn, improve, and initiate change.
Retrospectives can take on the form of many different shapes and sizes but they should always answer three essential questions:
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- How can we improve going forward?
At our core, we aim to make every opportunity a learning opportunity. We crave to know the ‘why’ behind everything. That’s why we’re highlighting the experience of an EiR in comparison with one of our very own venture developers — to uncover more valuable insights for the future EiR roadmap.
👋 Meet Our EiR and VD
📈 Measuring the EiR Experience
Below is a high-level overview of the NBT EiR experience. Here’s what we learned👇
Storate — Salvatore Alaimo (EiR)
About: Storate is a solution that helps F&B operators minimize waste and inefficiencies by having greater control over their inventory.
Words from Salvatore ✍️
What was your highlight during the EiR program?
I found the EiR program to be well-defined and clear in terms of the planning and objectives required. Even though at times it wasn’t always easy, it helped me focus on urgent tasks and allocate my time in order of priority.
As one of NBT’s venture developers assigned to my case, I think Simon Bernard’s role was incredibly helpful in bringing this business case to life. Having already had some experience with EiRs, he knew what common errors to avoid, the main challenges, and how to solve them. However, the whole team was very supportive when I needed guidance. I also had the opportunity to speak directly with Mohammad Khan(Emkay), Enrico Mariotti, and Max Drechsler — who are all previous NBT EiRs. Hearing about their experience was extremely beneficial for me to understand the process, the challenges, and what it takes to be successful when developing a new business case.
What did you find most challenging during the EiR program?
In my opinion, the customer discovery phase is the most challenging part. With my business case, I had to screen a lot of customer suggestions and figure out how best to incorporate those insights into the solution. Time is such a crucial part of the equation and the program is extremely fast-paced which means that you’re required to cover several different tasks all at once.
What’s next for Storate?
We’re working on two crucial aspects for the future of the company. The first is the selection of the CTO which we are close to finalizing. We have received an overwhelming number of applications with very strong candidates applying from all around the globe. I feel very fortunate and thankful for their interest which makes selecting just one candidate an extremely difficult task. The second aspect is the product discovery phase that will help us in defining our minimum viable product (MVP).
What is a unique insight you can share about your experience?
During the first bi-weekly I had with one of NBT’s venture developers, I was asked about how I was feeling after speaking with Emkay about his case and EiR experience. I still remember my answer to that question: “Well it’s a lot of work but it’s not meant to be completed in a week. It’s a 4-month program, right? Then, I know that can do it”.
Before the start of the program, I read the dedicated EiR booklet about what to expect but the conversation with Emkay made me realize just how much work would be required to reach my goal. I believe that my organizational skills and focus, together with my self-confidence, have propelled me to be where I am today — an official founder of one of NBT’s portfolio ventures.
So, my advice to all future entrepreneurs is that you need to believe in yourself and believe in your business case. Ask questions, work hard, iterate, and you will thrive in an environment where support is readily waiting for you.
Get to know Salvatore Alaimo.
NBT Venture Developer — Simon Bernard
What was your highlight during the EiR program?
I’d have to say that my favorite part of the EiR program is Sprint 3 which focuses on product ideation. After brainstorming on potential solutions and having the first interviews with potential customers, this is the stage where each business idea becomes more concrete. Sprint 3 aims to use data collected in earlier conversations and derive useful information from it, such as the creation of a user persona, a user journey map, and the start of the prototype mapping. It’s during this sprint that you can begin to see what the end solution will look like which I find really exciting.
What aspect of the EiR program do you think candidates find most challenging?
I think most EiRs find customer discovery most challenging, although it’s often regarded as the most essential stage in the venture building process. It’s particularly difficult in the sense that the EiR has to source potential customers and enquire about their specific industry challenges and what they’re hoping to gain in a solution. During this phase, the EiR must obtain validated information. In customer discovery, the EiR plays the role of a scientist, allowing evidence to lead to a solution without letting their own prejudices get in the way. Sometimes it’s not easy to secure these conversations, but each EiR must be resilient and attempt to reach as many people as possible to get valuable information in the short timeframe that’s available to them.
What’s one unique insight that you can share about the program?
The program is specifically designed for people who are experts in a certain field or industry that would like to start their own business without taking on the risks themselves. While NBT provides the necessary capital to kickstart the venture-building journey, we also provide equally important resources such as service hours to support the EiR with the essential processes and tools to successfully develop the business.
In your opinion, what makes a strong business case?
I believe that the founding team is the most important piece of the puzzle in creating a successful startup. Therefore, when it comes to building a strong business case in the EiR program, a strong founder is essential. The founder must have identified a gap in a certain market from his or her own experience in that particular field. In addition, the founder must have a strong network that can be called upon quickly. These elements are essential to rapidly validate a business case and decide on the best solution adapted to the current market need.
What industries and technologies have the most potential for a new venture?
In terms of high potential industries, CleanTech is becoming more interesting in the eyes of investors. However, I believe that this industry has to be further developed, especially since the climate crisis is urgently calling for solutions that limit current and future environmental damage.
Regarding high potential technologies, I think that blockchain and machine learning are still relatively new technologies with great future potential. Blockchain, in particular, is in the early stages of adoption and its applicability is not yet fully explored or understood by the vast majority of people. This will certainly change as more use cases are developed with real-world useability.
Get to know Simon Bernard.
🏁 Get Involved: Join NBT’s EiR Program
While our EiR initiative is still new, we’re doing our best to improve the entire EiR program so that each new founder is well-equipped with both the tools and the know-how to build a company from scratch — and in record time.
If you’d like to make your mark on the world, now is the time! We’re taking submissions!
If you’re ready to launch your next big idea — apply to our EiR program today!