The Pre-Accelerator programme is a talent organization that acts as a bridge between startups and accelerators. The programme is suitable to early-stage or first time entrepreneurs who are serious about building a scalable, repeatable and investable business and are committed to apply to acceleration programmes dedicated to their field of expertise.

We’re not helping you get glory or fame, but boil down ideas to get the essence of what will bring success in the future. With a constantly changing economic landscape, with lack of trust from investors in star-entrepreneurs or the so called “brohood” in Silicon Valley, we’re creating a safe haven for you to explore ideas that will attract both customers and investors without polished pitch decks.

Transformative economy is emerging through companies that become more sustainable and socially involved. Brands need more connected “jobs to get done” with customer needs and customers are increasingly becoming self aware in the process of transforming the planet through consumption. As such, Aspire Pre-Accelerator’s purpose is to bring back the authentic needs and wants in the center of entrepreneurship!

Who can apply to Aspire Pre-Accelerator?

This is a social entrepreneurship programme designed for all individuals from the CEE, with a focus on Romania and close countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia, Albania, Czech Republic, The Slovak Republic, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia. However if you are not living in the CEE area we still invite you to contact us in order to discuss your possibility to participate to the programme.

We are looking for:

  • Purposely driven individuals who understand the power of social movements and the cosequences of disrupting the status quo – It’s not just fun, but it’s serious and you need to know what you’re changing and how you’re replacing it.
  • You’re aligned with your values in all aspects of life and you’re able to inspire others follow your zen/ balance in life- We believe it’s important if you want to become a true leader to first get to know yourself very well.
  • You want to give back to society in some way. Thinking beyond your own horizons is important for getting further with your mission.
  • You’ve failed and learned from that experience. You’ll be also using the wireframes formed from experienced failures to reframe and reshape new business models starting from a much stronger WHY.
  • You’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone and get your hands dirty in creating a prototype done during a pressure cooker.
  • You’re not ego driven but you have the grit to get things done in a team!

The focus is on people that have a strong desire to build a team and work towards creating a MVP. From recent graduates to experienced individuals what we look for are individuals that demonstrate G.R.I.T (gut, resilience, initiative, tenacity) in working for their dreams.

Why a social entrepreneurship Pre-accelerator?

We believe that developing alternative business models to the startup status quo has become a central moral challenge of our time. These alternative models will balance profit and purpose, champion democracy, and put a premium on sharing power and resources. Companies that create a more just and responsible society will hear, help, and heal the customers and communities they serve.

Social entrepreneurship relies on: understanding social challenges at a macro level; forming an empathic mindset at micro level; ability to formulate a triple bottom line return for the business (social inclusion, environmental sustainability, commercial viability); business model innovation.

This new movement demands a new symbol, the zebra. To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real. Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.

Aspire’s purpose since beginning has been to have a positive social impact on the community in which it operates.

Aspire Pre-Accelerator focuses on nurturing the resources for the next economy and new social paradigms.

CEE is a region which is fueled by social transformation after decades of being oppressed by communist regimes. The flourishing tech and educational context of the CEE countries provides endless opportunities for businesses to thrive in making a high impact in transformative economy.

 

How does Aspire Pre-Accelerator work?

Phase 1

After a rigorous matchmaking process we will select more than 50 participants. They will participate in the Pre-Accelerator bootcamp, held between April 12th and 15th.The bootcamp will put the participants on a reality-based startup journey where they will actively acquire knowledge on their ideas. They will also test their entrepreneurial skills and look for one or multiple co-founders to join them on their mission.

By the end of the bootcamp participants will form teams made up of 2-3 members and the best will be selected to participate in a 3-months mentorship program. The individuals that will not find a team can still participate to the general trainings. We highly recommend them to still be present in order to gain a deep understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset. This will also help their application for the following year when maybe they will get a better chance at finding a suitable co-founder.

Phase 2 

The final teams will engage in the 3 months “MVP Program” that will take their startup from 0 to 1. Based on our experience, we expect about 2-3 team reiterations during this phase. The MVP Program offers consulting, mentorship, funding, trainings and workshops. This will help the teams get from an idea to a viable business ready to help their first clients.

This phase represents a commitment both from our side but also from the participants’ side. During these months, the teams will benefit from all the community’s support and knowledge. But participants must be ready to work hard, respect the deadlines and invest time and energy.  This will help them maximise their chances to transform their ideas into real businesses. 

Phase 3 

The last step in our transformational journey is the Pitching Day. The best teams will be facilitated access to our Accelerator partners which will help them take their business to the next level.

Empirical knowledge showed us that only deeply focused teams that check out all the points needed to validate their idea will be successful in participating to an Accelerator programme. So make the most of your time at the Aspire Pre-Accelerator programme!

How will Aspire Pre-Accelerator support you?

  • CONNECT: You have the opportunity to network within a large entrepreneurial community. This will benefit you by finding a co-founder and by connecting with educated investors. Your new network will also help you overcome typical start-up obstacles. The community will also act as a business knowledge platform.
  • LEARN: If selected, you will be part of a 3-months period of continue learning. During this time you will increase your business acumen, you will learn the principles of pivoting and how to sell to potential clients. But most importantly, you will transform your idea into a company!
  • ASPIRE ALUMNI: You will be part of our large community of over 700 alumni spread in more than 37 countries worldwide. From global events, mentorship and professional opportunities to introductions to startups and like minded entrepreneurs, Aspire offers infinite chances. The community will offer great support in continuing your development for a lifelong experience!

 

 

Applications are now open
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Where are the meetings and courses held?
    The bootcamp and the pitching event will take place close to Bucharest. The pre-application feedback is given online, through several calls. The place of the meetings in the 3-months mentoring period is decided between the selected teams and their respective mentors.
  • When is Aspire Pre-Acceleration held?
    It is a year-round project. The applications usually open on March 1st and they close on April 1st. The bootcamp takes place between April 12th and 15th at OK Centre in Bucharest. Starting June throughout the summer, the selected teams will participate in the MVP Program. The program will end with the Pitching Day. Please check regularly our website and our social channels to be up to date with our latest news and timeline.
  • What is the selection process?
    For the initial phase of the Bootcamp, you can already check the application button on the website, and in order to continue in the acceleration programe, you will first need to pass this 4 days bootcamp test. The application consists of entrepreneurial skills tests and supportive documents such as a mini business plan, a CV, etc. The selection process will give us the chance to examine your skills and will offer you the opportunity to explain to the Aspire Pre-Acceleration team the problem you have identified, your solution and your innovation model.
  • What is the cost to attend if I am selected?
    The real cost of organizing Aspire Bootcamp is over €500 per participant. However, thanks to our multiple sponsors and partners, we are able to perceive a participation fee of €100. Nevertheless, we offer a range of scholarships, both partial and full, accordingly to your current financial situation. Please let us know if you would like to be considered for a scholarship, by filling in the necessary section of the form. The Pre-Accelerator program is a non-equity based program.
  • Am I going to receive funding from Aspire for my project?
    The final winning teams selected after the Pitching Day will have a facilitated entrance to renowned Accelerators that we have partnered with. Those teams will have all the chances of getting a considerable amount of funding through VCs. For the other teams there are also funding chances as some of the program’s mentors are business angels who might invest in your idea if you match their criteria. We give you all the chances, but everything is up to you!
  • Do I have to submit the project as a team? Can other people outside the Aspire community apply?
    Aspire Pre-Accelerator is a programme where we receive individual applications. We noticed that the biggest pain of someone interested in starting a business is finding the right co-founder. So we take a step back from “the next big idea” and look where the entrepreneurial talent is, bringing them together so they can find the perfect human relationship match before starting to intensively work on building the Minimum Viable Product. However, if you already have somebody with whom you would like to partner we recommend both of you to apply.
  • How developed should my business be?
    The program targets early stage start-ups, that did not develop a MVP or did not go through any funding round. Your business idea should reflect the basic plan: problem, solution, market research, competition, client profile, etc. We welcome applicants who are either very passionate about their business idea and want to develop it or who have minimum 3 years experience in the area they want to implement their idea. Please make sure that you clearly state in the application how developed your business is.
  • Where can I find the list of mentors?
    Unfortunately, Aspire Pre-Accelerator cannot disclose the mentors until the actual event takes place, because the team carefully selects them based on the needs of the participants. We will however post past mentors as a reference.
  • Is there an age limit for participants?
    There is no age limit and anyone is welcomed to apply to the program. What matters is your mindset and your desire of solving the identified problem.
  • What type of business do I need to promote in order to qualify as a social entrepreneur?
    The only criteria to qualify as a social entrepreneur is to integrate a component of giving back to society in your business model one way or another. We accept various types of business ideas that have purpose in them and demonstrate a sustainable way of contribution in society. However, we highly encourage applications that focus on these key industries: Fintech, AI & Big data, Health & Education.
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