StartupYard — Secret Unicorn Factory in Prague, Interview with Cedric Maloux

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Why should founders apply to StartupYard?
Because they will get skills, knowledge and a vast network. 3 months at StartupYard is like 3 years in normal life when it comes to those factors.

Is StartupYard more in the “spray and pray” model or do you have an investment thesis you follow?
We invest in deep tech startups, that is startups that use advanced technologies, difficult to replicate, preferably backed by science to tackle global problems. Only about 3% of people who apply for our program are accepted.

What is the difference between StartupYard and YC or 500 Startups? How does SV influence your business?
YC or 500 startups are focusing on more advanced startups. We are OK to take a startup that has not launched yet. Even better we can prepare them for YC, Techstars or 500 Startups to make sure they won’t be rejected. SV has no direct influence on our day to day activities.

What are biggest success stories of StartupYard?
Just to name just a few, we have Gjirafa, Rossum, Neuron Soundware, Budgetbakers. They all have one thing in common, they use some type of AI to provide a better service.

Where will StartupYard be in 3 years?
By then, we will have passed 100 accelerated startups and hope to have more exists (so far we have exited from 7 startups — 10% of our portfolio).

Allegro, CD Project, AVG, Avast, UiPath, Eset are the unicorns of CEE. Why are there so few unicorns in the CEE region?
Good question. They are coming, CEE is just a bit late to the party because the ecosystem is only showing results now.

How has the startup market changed in CEE? What’s driving the changes?
Compared to a few years ago, we now have a full ecosystem booming. We have role models, angels who have exited from their company, a lot of funds.

What are typical problems of CEE startups? How does StartupYard help?
Access to customers (especially in B2B) can be harder because the region is not known for being full of early adopters. For B2C, the lack on good marketers is an issue. We help by making introduction to corporates who are looking for innovations.

Any crazy stories from StartupYard’s portfolio?
It is a crazy world out there so we have a lot. They range from investors pulling out of a deal on the day of signing to shareholders trying to do a brutal takeover of the company. We always try to warn our founders. Some of our favorite quotes are: it’s not signed until it’s signed. It’s not done until the money hits your bank account.

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