According to Hedi Mardisoo, the CEO of Cachet, the founders were not planning to apply to an accelerator, but Techstars approached them. “We were thinking we should meet them once for politeness. Then all of a sudden we were on a high-speed train and, to our surprise, we got selected, ”said Mardisoo.
Long but low-budget process
The preparations for the accelerator started already in October, when Cachet was first contacted by Techstars. The accelerator rules require a thorough due diligence of the selected startups. There were several rounds to go through and the process was heavy, but mainly in terms of man-hours. The program has funding specifically allocated to cover the costs of participation. "If your idea is good and you have a clear goal, then money will not be an issue," said Mardisoo.
Cachet recently received a seed investment from Lemonade Stand, a new angel investment fund. Its manager Siim Teller has previous experience with Techstars Boston program with GrabCAD, so good advice was close. "When recommendations were required, he (Siim Teller) was ready to put in a good word and I think it certainly had a strong impact," Mardisoo said. Lingvist, a language learning app, also had gone through a Techstars accelerator program, but it was difficult to ask for specific advice because the process wasn't public until just recently. However, the founders of Cachet were supported by many local startups with experience in various international acceleration programs.
High percentage of women founders - in 40% of selected startups
A big portion of startups, chosen for the accelerator program this season, are women. Mardisoo praises the strong level of the teams and regards the high proportion of women as good chance. “When we first met the ten companies on stage, I realised the women there had built really strong companies. There were a couple of really cool startups focused on data and artificial intelligence, with whom I see potential cooperation. There were also a couple of interesting fintech startups with potential points of contact with Cachet. ”Cachet is not the only insurance startup to enter the program, but Mardisoo sees it as an opportunity for collaboration. Participants came from several different countries, for example Belgium, India, Ireland, England and Estonia.
An ambitious program fosters high expectations
It is mandatory for all founders to participate in the program on a full-time basis, so both Mardisoo and Palling (co-founder of Cachet) will be in London for three months. The rest of the team will be involved in the program, but only when specific topics are concerned. During the first two weeks, participants will meet a big part of the 200 program mentors. For the next three months, the founders of Cachet have defined two major goals for their startup, concerning expansion, development and scaling. “First of all, we expect to develop the product a lot further. Since the strategic partner of the program is Barclays, then it will definitely help to analyse our product more widely than before. Today we are fully insurance-driven, but at some point we could also provide other financial solutions. Surely this is the place we can develop and test the product with a lot of support from mentoring. Another major issue is rapid scaling to additional markets. Today we are working on Poland, we are looking closely at Scandinavia. Certainly the big markets in Western Europe are of interest, so targeting some in that area will be our second big focus,” said Mardisoo.
Cachet is a startup established in 2018 that offers insurance marketplace.
Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is a London-based fintech accelerator with a 13-week intensive development program that includes mentoring from leading global companies and an investment of up to $ 120,000.