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HackFwd invests up to Euro 191 000 for up to 3 founding members in exchange for 30 percent of the equity (3 of which go to mentors and / or referrers). The founders are expected to be techies, and the business must be in the easily scalable B2C space. Geographical coverage is wider European Union.
Last month as a new referrer for Eastern Europe I attended HackFwd invitation-only event Build0.9 in Berlin, and saw for myself the inner-working of the European startup accelerator / micro VC (which has already backed Eastern European startups including Outlander Studios, Infogr.am and Filmaster).
The gaming theme stood out: out of nine teams or HackBoxes which presented their progress update at the last HackFwd Build0.9 event in Berlin three of them: Delta Strike, Outlander Studios and Yoone develop games, whilst Fantasy Shopper gamifies social commerce.
To coach its HackBoxes the organizers invited games industry experts. I had a chance to speak to Chris Deering, the former president of Sony Europe, Siegfried Müller, a co-founder of a successful German online gaming company Travian Games (120 million registered gamers), an expert on games due diligence Professor William Latham to mention just a few. I suppose this is the kind of industry-specific coaching is what startups should expect from an accelerator.
So for a moment I got a feeling that HackFwd decided to specialize on gaming industry. Personally I see great benefits of having some sort of specialization as it could help focus the accelerator efforts to support their investee companies. After all, even VCs begin to specialize.
However according to Lars Hinrichs, the founder and the Executive Geek at HackFwd (and number two Berlin investor to follow on twitter, after Ashton Kutcher), the gaming focus is more a legacy from the past. With the rise of 3D gaming last year the accelerator invested in two teams focusing on 3D technology in browser games: Delta Strike (flash 3D) and Yoone/TankWars (unity 3D). Later a 3D action strategy game developer Outlanders Studio from Lithuania also joined, but in general HackFwd looks for engineering-driven companies who make useful and highly innovative new products which can scale globally, and that is its only focus.
Startup pitches called Pitch in Berlin are also a part of the Build0.9 mini conference, typically a second day of the event. This time its audience included investors from Accel Partners, EarlyBird, Partech International, b-to-v Partners, PROfounders Capital and Sunstone. Some interesting pitches were by the LeWeb winner BabelVerse, the real time crowd-sourced interpreter, Croatian startup called Habbits, a mobile task app with elements of Tamagotchi, and RadioJar, which provides SaaS for radio stations, including DJ dashboard and even access to advertisers. See HackFwd blog for the full list.
The winner became an automated Facebook app builder Hike Social Apps, the runner up was the cloud services notification aggregator AppHub, and the popular vote took a Polish startup ScatchApp created at the Startup Weekend Szczecin, a mobile app, which turns sketches into digitally meaningful models.
Full disclosure: HackFwd pays for the trips of its referrers, and with this my “financial gains” and a full disclosure is complete.
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