This Swiss accelerator isn’t new to virtual Demo Days
In the age of COVID-19, Demo Days and other events are starting to move online. And Techstars, perhaps the largest accelerating program with dozens of programs around the world, is hosting virtual Demo Days for the foreseeable future. But it’s the WIForum Accelerator who may be best prepared. After all, they’ve been operating virtual Demo Days for years.
The WIForum Accelerator is a rigorous three-month program for growth-stage startups, operated by the Swiss-based World Innovations Forum Foundation. The program starts with a one-week bootcamp held in Vietnam, with the remainder conducted online with weekly sessions, exercises, and updates. Not only is it rigorous — it’s extremely competitive. After meeting with over 1,000 startups, just ten were accepted into the program, and out of those, only five successfully graduated.
WIForum held its virtual Demo Day for its eighth batch on April 8. During the live webinar, startups from Cambodia, France, South Korea, and Vietnam pitched online and were introduced to angel investors and VCs from around the world. The event started off with a greeting from Chairman Axel Schultze, who introduced the program, its partners, and startups.
The startups then each delivered a quick three-minute pitch. For many startups, pitching online presents new challenges. For those pitching, they can’t see the audience or their reactions, making it difficult to adjust or feed off the audience’s energy. And the audience sometimes struggles to clearly see both presenter and pitch deck on their screen. WIForum uses GoToWebinar for their online sessions, which seems to work well. With their software, audience members have access to two screens — one of the presenter, and one of the pitch deck. And both screens can be resized to the viewer’s preferences.
Two of the pitching startups, DamoGO and Shuttle, gained entry to the program after winning Seoul Pitch Day in 2019. Seoul Pitch Day was the final pitch event of Podium Star, which itself became one of the hottest startup events in Korea. Both Podium Star and Seoul Pitch Day were organized by PowerPT, who coached and advised the startups with their investor pitch script, design, and presentation skills.
DamoGO is tackling the giant food waste problem by offering users the chance to rescue delicious food from nearby restaurants. CEO Lin Hwang said that not only has the WIForum Accelerator changed the way he runs his company, but also the way he thinks. His team learned a lot about the growing Southeast Asian market and even incorporated in Indonesia just last week.
Shuttle is one of the top food delivery platforms in South Korea, especially amongst younger audiences who enjoy international foods. Shuttle CEO Jason Boutte said that the program helped his team make important decisions from a global perspective. WIForum’s obsession with speed also rubbed off on his team, as Shuttle looks to continue expanding both within the Korean market and internationally.
After pitching, the WIForum Demo Day concluded with a private Q&A session between investors and founders. The WIForum Accelerator boasts a success rate of 50%, measured in terms of funding received from independent investors after graduation. Mr. Schultze says that number is amongst the highest in the world.
To learn more about WIForum, visit https://wiforum.org.
Pssst, today is World Innovations Day. Celebrate by sharing your favorite startup story, or participate in the initiative below.
WIForum aims to knock out COVID-19 by spreading its own viral initiative. To participate, just follow these simple steps:
1. Wear a mask and maintain social distancing (no host = no virus)
2. Continue sharing useful, preventative advice using the #kout19 hashtag.
For more on the #kout19 initiative, like their Facebook group at fb.com/kout19.