Why should you join Rockstart?
If your team is dedicated to turning your startup into a high-growth company that drives positive change, Rockstart is a radical partner to propel your startup forward. In short, we have the capital to fund up to € 2 million in your startup (up to series B), and even more important: we help address the most difficult challenges that your startup faces from a strategic, commercial, and operational perspective. From experience, we know that most startups face challenges in several key areas when launching their product on the market and trying to grow:
– Defining the right pricing model. Is your product too expensive or are you charging too little? In our experience, most startups begin modestly, resulting in prices that are too low rather than too high. This is a problem because it could mean that a startup has a negative LTV / CAC ratio. We know it’s hard to charge a significant price for your product when it isn’t completely doing everything your customer wants, which is why we help you define the right pricing model for your startup and find tailor made solutions to the challenges we just mentioned.
– Moving from pilots to recurring customers. These days it’s not too difficult to get a corporate/company to commit to making a budget available for a pilot, but turning that pilot into a full scale implementation is a challenge, takes time, and can often lead nowhere. We help you build a strategy that turns pilots into customers and decide which pilot customers to focus on and which are a waste of time.
- Identifying the ideal market segment(s) for your product. You have one customer in a specific segment of the market, but your product could also fit multiple other segments. You’re trying to approach multiple segments at the same time, but are having difficulty getting major traction. How do you decide which segment to focus on without spreading yourself too thin? We help explore whether it is best for you to focus on or address multiple segments at the same time and, if this is the case, help you with relevant connections.
These are just a few examples of the type of questions that Rockstart helps its portfolio companies with, and we do this in three ways. First, with the support of the Rockstart team, who have extensive experience helping startups overcome specific hurdles. We also provide hands-on support through our extensive mentor, partner, and investor network and through a customized curriculum that provides fast validation opportunities and hands-on access to experts in the domain (e.g. Energy, AgriFood, or Tech) and the startup field. And last but not least, Rockstart offers follow-on investments (as a co-investor) up to series B.
Who are we for and what do we do?
Rockstart is a privately backed early stage investor with funds totalling more than €60 million. Since its inception in 2011, Rockstart has invested in more than 250 startups and its alumni value to date is €80 million. We believe in a regenerative and sustainable future and we aim to fund and empower founders to drive positive change on a global scale. The Energy fund was launched in October 2020 and we recently announced the final close of our first AgriFood fund at +€22 million
. We are a commercially seasoned team of entrepreneurs who have raised private capital to invest in a portfolio of startups in order to drive returns from both a financial and positive impact perspective.
We already received some funding and/or are not early-stage. Can we still apply?
Yes. Your investor(s) would probably like you to join a program because they know what kind of support you can get by participating. Early-stage investors often spend a lot of time coaching the companies they invest in to increase their survival rate, but cannot organize the amount and quality of mentors that Rockstart has available to help its portfolio companies. The reason is simple: we spent 10 years building it. Rockstart’s Programs will help you grow faster and bring your startup to the next level by teaching your team how to think through your business proposition, opening doors that have been closed, helping you with funding, marketing and PR, and making sure you lay the foundation for growth (also from personal growth and leadership perspective). We tailor the program to meet your needs.
I am by myself and don’t have a team. Can I apply?
We prefer startups with a team that already runs a business and has (early) commercial traction, but are open to discuss with single founders looking to build their teams. Ideally, the existing team already consists of the co-founders but has also hired one or more employees. You and your teammates need to have complementary skills and a positive dynamic to be able to make your business work. Team dynamics is, in fact, a critical component of the selection process.
We already received some funding and/or are not early-stage. Can we still apply?
There are several components that make up our selection criteria. Firstly, we believe in the power of a great founding team. We always invest in people first and foremost. Some of the key things we look at in the team are: the right skills and/or experience for the market you’re active in, a deep passion for what you’re building, and a track record of being exceptional, whether that is individually or jointly as a team. We look at what kind of great things have you done in the past, and for your current startup. We’re also looking for innovation. It doesn’t mean that you have to come up with a totally original idea, but your execution of that idea has to be unique.
We do not invest in ideas where you have not yet started to work on a startup. You should have a running startup that shows some traction, e.g. at minimum one or several pilots, but ideally, you already have customers or users. We’ve invested in companies who had their first MVP and pilots who were acquired for $330 million, but also in companies who had up to €50.000 monthly revenue who grew substantially during the program and raised their series A afterwards. Finally but most importantly, since we’re looking to change the world together with the founders we work with, you need to have a clear mission of how your company will help drive positive change in your domain.
We only have an idea. Is it too early-stage to apply?
In order for us to help you get the most out of the program and our investment , we’re primarily looking for startups that have developed at least an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), and who have customers or users and can show some signs of traction. However, if your idea is still on the back of a napkin at the moment, or just at the beginning of the startup journey but you have an exceptional product vision and/or you’ve achieved great things in your career, we still encourage you to apply for our program so that you can be on our radar regardless of you having or not an MVP. We can start to get to know each other and can keep an eye on your progress. Then we can suggest the next steps and how your business needs to progress in order to be ready for us.
What are the Rockstart programs?
The Rockstart programs are domain-focused, tailor-made programs designed to rapidly take your business from MVP to investment-ready.
The Rockstart programs run twice per year: in the spring from February to June and in the fall from August to December. Throughout the programs, we run six Deep Dives – an intensive week of workshops, 1-on-1 expert sessions, coaching sessions, peer-to-peer sessions, events and more. Each of these weeks is focused on a specific area of your business, such as marketing and communications, fundraising or pitching to give you access to the tools, people and opportunities to build a solid and scalable business. We’re happy to explain to you more what the programs are all about during a video call.
How do Rockstart programs compare to other programs?
Rockstart's programs are unique, and we believe it’s much better than comparable programs for several reasons. First, we are not just an accelerator - we are an accelerator and an early stage investor, meaning we have a significant amount of capital that we can invest after the program. Second, our motivation is unique: we are an independent, privately backed early stage investor started by entrepreneurs who want to build the best place for startups to grow. We aim to use the program to create commercial and societal impact for our portfolio companies. We utilize our program to help scale the portfolio companies we invest in. Our aim is not to educate you on what a company is or to help you develop your idea or concept.
Third, the duration of our involvement is much longer than other accelerators. We are not involved for just 3-6 months like traditional accelerators, but for 5-7 years. We know that building a company takes years, not weeks or months. That’s why after the program we continue to co-invest in our portfolio companies up to Series B with a maximum allocation to any one company of >€2m. We also take positions on boards, when it makes sense, and connect you with strategic partners and mentors who can fill our role if there is a specific strategic need. With this long-term perspective in mind, we are looking for companies that are ready to move the needle. Your company’s timing also needs to match. We want to see some traction (be it commercial, academic or some other proxy) and we want to work on taking that traction to the next level together.
Where is Rockstart based?
Rockstart is based in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Bogota. Known for its entrepreneurial climate and open lifestyle, Rockstart is the place for any startup to grow internationally. Hosting startups in person helps us to ensure a soft landing for your startup in a new market and for you to get the best out of our network.
You do not have to relocate for your respective program after you have been selected for a Rockstart investment. While designing the specific program, we aim to be as founder-friendly as possible. For the time being, all programs are run remotely until COVID-19 restrictions allow for worldwide travel again. After, we will find the best mix of in-person events and remote content.
How does Rockstart support startups in the long term?
When the program ends, you become a Rockstart portfolio company and we continue the journey together. You remain part of our community of more than 250 startups and have access to our online events (investor events, corporate events, etc.), to various deals, continue to have mentor support, and participate in marketing and communications campaigns. We are also at your side when it comes to investing as we co-invest from seed until series B.
What does “after program support” mean and why does Rockstart offer it?
What we’ve learned in the past 10 years is that the rollercoaster journey is far from over after the acceleration program - your challenges will just become bigger and bigger. After working with and investing in 250+ startups, we realised that we can continue to add a lot of value in the years to come and that it’s crucial to help founders build successful and meaningful businesses.
During those years, we will bring continued structural support through follow-on investments, (informal) board seats, syndication partners, and our large mentor and corporate network. We will also help you scale and (potentially) exit your company with the help of future investors.
The after program support also means that you can continue to reach out to our network to ask for advice. There could be interesting (corporate) events you can attend and we will continue to introduce you to possible partners and/or investors and much more.
What is the value of the accelerator program and how much initial funding do Rockstart startups receive?
Our accelerator program fee is €65k. This fee is based on the cost-prices of program activities and many extensive services, tools and privileges. These include essentials for every startup that could easily cost you twice as much outside the program, such as workshop and sessions (group and 1-on-1 sessions), connections to potential customers, external management assessment, intensive mentorship, support in legal setup, documentation, accountancy and subsidy questions, networking events (e.g. investor events, mentor events),software packages through our startups’ deals, entrance tickets for conferences, as well as a program team dedicated to you.
Startups accepted to Rockstart receive an initial investment with a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity). Rockstart also continues to invest in its portfolio companies, co-investing with a lead investor. Rockstart can continue to co-invest up to Series B.
Does Rockstart follow-on invest?
Yes, Rockstart follow-on invests. Startups accepted to Rockstart receive an initial investment consisting of a convertible note. Rockstart also continues to invest in its portfolio companies, co-investing with a lead investor and investing up to 50% in the next round. Rockstart can continue to co-invest up to Series B up to a total amount of € 2 million.
Does Rockstart invest in startups throughout the year?
Yes, we definitely do. We support founders year-long with access to capital, but also to mentors, corporate partners and our founders community. Rockstart offers two accelerator programs per industry domain each year; one in the spring and one in the fall. This gives the opportunity to scout for startups all year long. Running our domain programs in tandem allows us to also invest throughout the year as startups are selected continuously. In 2020, we invested in more than 30 startups and in 2021 into more than 45.