A Founder’s Perspective On The Fit 4 Start Program

The public acceleration program now has a dedicated Wikipedia page where you can find all the important information about it. Among these is the list of all the startups that have participated in it since 2015. There are already 78 startups to have followed the four months of coaching offered. We asked entrepreneurs to give us their impressions and to testify about the program’s benefits. After all, the founders are those who would know best!
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
photo: Marie De Decker
featured: Fit 4 Start’s participant

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I remember the first presentation of the Fit 4 Start programme in 2015 in the Technoport premises when it was still building its MVP. There were only about fifty of us who attended and discovered the broad outlines of a programme that a few years later would become the flagship acceleration programme for the country’s startup ecosystem. The institutions have been very active and have allocated a substantial budget to initiate the programme, keep it going and to create new businesses and jobs. Let time take its course and startups to grow. Now, twice a year, the selection of new startups are events attended by hundreds of entrepreneurs.

From the pilot edition to the upcoming new edition, one thing is certain; the program is becoming increasingly popular. Many startups are preparing themselves from one edition to the next in order to be selected and to have not only the chance to follow 16 intensive weeks of coaching but also have the possibility of receiving significant financial support in order to validate a product/service and to launch it on the market. For others, the program is an excellent gateway to Luxembourg and the European market. It allows, in a few weeks, to structure the startup from A to Z, in a human-scale ecosystem keen on innovation. Yollty founder Alexandros Trepeklis can testify. “Fit 4 Start was a key element in the success of Yollty, as it helped us transition from an early prototype to a product with more than 100 monthly paying businesses and 20K monthly active users. The combination of financial support and coaching was an integral part of this success as it helped us pivot our early prototype to a scalable and viable solution.”

“I can’t stress enough the importance of the visibility and credibility that Fit 4 Start has brought to our startup.”

Visibility for startups is a major asset of the program. The programme enjoys considerable media fame both at the national level, where it is covered by the local media, and at the international level, where Luxembourg’s representative offices – better known under the name of Luxembourg Trade Investment Office; LTIO – activate their networks to attract foreign startups and publicize the best innovations of the selected and awarded ones. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the visibility and credibility that Fit 4 Start has brought to our startup. I would totally recommend Fit 4 Start for any early-stage startup!” confirms Trepeklis.

And what about the opportunity given to foreign companies to develop internationally from Luxembourg, the very heart of Europe. This is the case of the Nomoko company, which is building the Mirror World platform including the gateway to add more spatial data. Nomoko’s competitive advantage lies in the combination of the ability to generate extremely detailed 3D models at large scale and the creation of a universal spatial data infrastructure. “Given that Nomoko is a Swiss company, Fit 4 Start allowed us to set a foot in the European Union. It was great to get coaching at such an early stage of the company – in 2016, Nomoko existed only for a few months”, says Nomoko’s Co-founder Vincent Pedrini.

“Since the end of the program and to this day, we grew Nomoko from 10 to 40 employees. As of today Nomoko has raised 7.5M EUR.”

From an idea to growing a business is only a step away and the “small Luxembourgish paths” – the decision-makers are only one contact away in your network. This is confirmed by Pedrini. “Even when the majority of the founders are from Luxembourg, it has allowed us to enter the Luxembourgish startup ecosystem with more ease. Most importantly, it has enabled us to establish a close relationship with companies, the government and startups. Extending your network as a young venture is fundamental to being able to exchanging ideas and best practices at an early stage.”

The strong involvement of the majority of players in the ecosystem and their desire to turn the country into a “startup nation” opens unique doors to these budding startups, which represent a growing workforce and an increasing part of the Luxembourgish economy. “Fit 4 Start enabled us to find the perfect office and we are very happy to be a part of the Paul Wurth InCub – the incubator founded by industry leader Paul Wurth. It has also allowed us to meet one of our current Board Members, Thierry Fromes, former Chairman of Skype and General Manager at Microsoft. Since the end of the program and to this day, we grew Nomoko from 10 to 40 employees. As of today Nomoko has raised 7.5M EUR,” concludes Pedrini.

The reputation of the program will come from these success stories and from the Alumni network that gathered for the first time a few weeks ago. His ambition? To create a network of entrepreneurs based on the model of business school networks or the country’s powerful business clubs. Mutual assistance and experience sharing are the key words and pillars of a program that aims to be one of the most attractive in Europe. Which startups will be crowned. In the meantime, you still have a few days to try your luck to enter this year’s selection process, here.

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