The competition is complete, the battle is done, winners of Get in the Ring in 2016 have been chosen. But the program is not finished yet. Day 3 is dedicated to networking. It’s time to talk with a startup, an investor, a corporate.
Eric Yoon Ju Kim of DOT, Claudia Cecilia Restrepo Serna of Biodencell and Yassine Faddani of LIK woke up this morning, excited about the possibilities as Get in the Ring winners. The team behind Get in the Ring deliberately chose Medellín for the International Final, as Medellín also hosts the Global Entrepreneurship Congress this week. 6,000 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policy makers from 160 different countries connect, gather insights and learn from each other. It’s an excellent opportunity for the Get in the Ring startups to network. What’s the result? Four interviews.
Among the bustling people in the lobby of the convention centre Jef Van der Avoort is walking around in an orange t-shirt with the logo of his startup, Squirl. It’s an app that lets you discover locations within books.
Ultimately you were not one of the six finalists, was it all for nothing?
“No, the connections that I’ve made here with the other startups are incredibly interesting. I’ve noticed that people are very open to sharing their network.”
You are networking right now, what is your goal?
“Our product is ready and we are now looking for investors to create revenue. Authors can add books and locations with our authors’ tool, but this is free at the moment. We need the investment to complete the paid tool, which has additional features. For that we need $120,000, in return for a 10% share.”
And did you find the investor that wants to make that investment here?
“I’ve had some conversations that are possibly going to continue, but most of the contacts I have made are in the starting fase. I have to put in some more effort and follow them up after the conference.”
What’s your secret networking trick?
“In a conversation always try to let the other speak first. After that I’m looking for a connection.”
Ohad Gilad, one of the Investors that came over with the Delegate Mission from the Netherlands, is also part of the network. His work here in Medellín is done, he says. Gilad was on Monday’s selection jury, and in the end he found even more investments than he had hoped for. In the Netherlands he is managing partner at Keadyn Venture Builders, a company that helped startups like Nestpick and Bird Control Group.
Did you meet interesting startups?
“With this type of event you never know what to expect, but this time it was a lucky catch. I’ve had some very interesting startups in front of me. I will now consider whether we want to continue with two of the startups. My visit to Medellín was very useful, better than I expected.”
What could you do for those startups?
“With Keadyn we not only invest in companies, but we try to provide more added value by helping them strategically, getting them in touch with the right people, and coaching them.”
What did you think of the quality of the Get in the Ring-participants?
“This is the third year that I’ve been a judge and I can see that the quality is getting better. Not only the quality of the participants but also the matchmaking. When the participants pitch in front of judges and they also collaborate with them later, it’s a win-win.”
The Innovation Ecosystem Manager at Colombia’s largest bank Bancolombia, Camilo Velasquez, is thrilled about what he saw. “The lights, the music, what an event!”
What is your impression of the startups that have made it to the finals in Medellín?
“At first I was skeptical. I expected that this would be a competition of ideas, but it really is a competition with real companies. I am surprised by the quality of the startups, some of them have great track records and are making big revenues.”
Why is it interesting for Bancolombia to be involved with an event like Get in the Ring?
“We’re always looking for new opportunities, we want to increase our knowledge and expertise in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. And the startups now may be our major corporate customers of the future. We want to be of service now.”
Are there startups which Bancolombia will work with?
“Biodencell is of course located here in Colombia. We are going to have a talk with them and have a look at the possibilities. And I’m going to meet up with SolarizEgypt, because we want to know more about their model. We are investigating the possibilities to finance clean energy. We as a bank want to take up the role of networker, so I’ve already connected a number of startups with interesting people and businesses from my own network.”
What’s your secret to networking?