In a nutshell:
We came from (almost) nowhere, but we did it faster than anybody else.
We are more than an accelerator.
We are going to change the VC world from the bottom up.
The numbers speak for themselves. Only 3 years from the start of our 1st program we are now opening our 10th application window. In the meantime we have invested in 100+ companies, making us the most prolific early-stage investor in Europe. We’ll keep the momentum by doubling the size of our first fund to EUR 25m as of 2016, allowing us to invest even more per startup than now*.
And everything we are doing is made possible, because of our community...
For those of you less familiar with Eleven, our acceleration fund was started about 3 years ago by a trio of friends determined to change the VC landscape in a remote Balkan corner. Apart from tech talent, there was little the region could boast in terms of entrepreneurial spirit or favorable startup environment. But we proved all the naysayers wrong.
Initially, we didn’t have much to boast about, so we came up with an almighty slogan: “Innovation happens at the edge”. It went along with a complex message that we’d like to invest in interdisciplinary projects in Sofia, a city itself on the edge of Western civilization, yet in an easy-going and friendly setting. Then we started looking for our actual edge and after investing in more than 45 companies in our 15 months, we found it: “Community is our edge” - our founders, mentors, partners, supporters, co-investors is what makes us strong.
Fast forward a year later and we ended with #oneof11 as our new motto, embodying our newly found strength that’s here to stay and that’s getting more important every day.
We introduced #oneof11 during our first Founder Conference in December 2014. Mind you this get together for our alumni was only second to 500.co’s first similar event called Fabulous Founders Weekend. Our second founders get together in May 2015 almost coincided with Y-Combinator’s first Camp YC.
For the casual observer, these large teambuilding events could be just what they appear on the surface - a large team building. However, they signify an emerging trend in the VC industry, one focused on the value of the underlying human network. Community is quickly becoming the new mantra of some of the most progressive VCs and deservedly so. We are happy we are on the edge in this respect. :)
As many of our co-founders testified: “The Founders Weekend was much better/useful/fun/inspiring than the latest X conference I recently attended”. However with more than 300 Eleveners today, even the biggest startup conference are becoming ad-hoc mini eleven reunions these days. The great team spirit of our weekend was carried over to the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, where Eleven team Dronamics was the winner, supported by a vociferous #oneof11 crowd. It was immediately followed by Spark.me, dominated respectively by Coprix in a similar friendly setting.
What’s next? We started with a day-long event first, continued with a weekend, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we extend it to a Founders Week next time around. We’ll call it DigiLamb on a Bus, combining the best of Geeks on a Plane and Digital|K :). It will be hosted by Eleven’s Serbian crew, and there will be less talk and more lamb to accompany the bonding and experience sharing.
So if you want to become #oneof11, apply now.
* Initial investment EUR 25k; maximum EUR 200k; current average EUR 80k per startup in 107 companies.