Sunday night, right before stepping out of the office, we felt a gust of pure excitement.
Because yesterday marked the launch of our 4th Seed Fund Program at The Refiners since inception in September of 2016.
Before we get into Fleet #4, here’s what happened since the end of our 3rd program back in December. Long story short, we hit a huge milestone!
To date, we met with over 1,000 startups and invested and accelerated in 44 world-class startups run by foreign founders so far. Not only did this warrant a quick round of applause in our office, but validated our company’s vision.
We believe that innovation is everywhere, but you can’t afford to be in Silicon Valley if you want to have a global impact in the digital space. Moving to the Valley, however, is a brutal process — competition is fierce, your network is key, and time-to-market is of the essence.
We now know, however, that foreign companies need a landing platform when they’re trying to become cross-border and envision their company at global scale. Upon arrival, we provide just that — unparalleled access to key executives, entrepreneurs, investors, experts, business and technological leaders. All you have to do is come here. We’ll do the rest.
With that said, we’re proud to announce the 11 world-class startups who decided that being local is not enough; it’s all about being global. Fleet #4 has landed.
But first, here’s an update about the past Fleets
The startups in our first two Fleets have been up to a lot lately. From rebranding their company name and logo to partnering with American mobile phone company (it’s Motorola) and pioneer a new mobile device with a Refiners startup’s tech… needless to say, they’ve listened to our tagline. They’re “crushing it”.
In terms of success metrics, 45% of the startups from Fleet 1 and 2 have successfully raised at least $500k since concluding their programs (we do not take into account the ones that raised less than $500k). Collectively, they’ve raised over $20M and counting; from U.S. / European VCs and Angel Investors (an average of $2M). Click here to see our portfolio.
Don’t worry, we won’t leave our status update on Fleet #3 left unsaid. Although it might be too early to identify results, here are a few of the startups we have some success to share with you.
Arise Travel — they open access to online travel market with a Blockchain-based hotel distribution network, closed a pre-seed round within 3-months of finishing their program in December 2017.
Lovebox — an IoT device empowering positive communication — was gifted to the French Olympic Team by a sponsor at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang! Team supporters were able to share their support and love by sending personal messages to the athletes.
Shone — retrofitting existing cargo ships with autonomous technology, has completed Y-Combinator’s Winter 2018 program and is closing its round of financing at the end of the month. Shone was named a Top 7 Startup at YC's Demo Day.
Now that you’re convinced that startups in The Refiners are makin’ moves, we’ll tell you how our program works and what new components we’re bringing to the table in Fleet #4.
How our program works
Our program is broken into three parts: Silicon Valley acclimation, network building, and fundraising. Here’s what it includes:
23 Mentor Masterclasses — to educate and raise global knowledge
9 Inspirational Talks — fireside chats with high-profile executives, entrepreneurs, and investors
6 Investor Grills — group sessions grilling the startups like a real investor meeting
22 Investor Panels — gather a group of investors to provide professional perspective in an intimate and open environment
Mentor Sessions — meet with industry experts throughout the program
Unlimited access to The Refiners Partners
Pitch Night (our informal Demo Day)
Part one is the most painful process of all. What we focus on doing here is helping the foreign founders unlearn what they’ve been taught from their home country.
… why would we want to do that?
We need to redefine their strategy for product/market fit in America.
Consumer, corporate buyer, and investor behaviors are entirely different here in Silicon Valley. Heck, what we do here in the Valley is completely different than any other city in America. It is, however, essential to understanding how it works in Silicon Valley because if you’re able to gain traction here, you’ll strike an interest with the world’s top investors and eager early-adopters.
The second month happens instantaneously upon arrival. Our focus is on quality and not quantity. We’ll find out what their current problems are and connect them with the best industry leaders and experts. In Fleet #4, we’re excited to welcome Whitnie Narcisse, Zander Adell, Frederique Dame, Jeremiah Owyang, and other high-profile entrepreneurs to join our Refiners Mentor Network.
When the third and final month arrives, we measure key metrics to judge their fundability probability and get them investor-ready from a series of workshops and Investor Panel events.
We set the bar of “investor readiness” very seriously. This is the core purpose of any startup in our program, so we want to ensure that they’re ready to crush any investor meeting.
We get the startups prepared by weekly group sessions in which we call “The Investor Grill”. In addition, startups participate in weekly mini demo days where they pitch in front of a panel of investors from such funds as Khosla Ventures, Greylock Partners, August Capital, Ignition Partners, Crunchfund, General Catalyst, Yes.vc, and more.
You’ll have a chance to see the startups present their companies at Pitch Night, our informal demo day open to our Refiners Community and the general public. Everyone is welcome.
Interesting facts about the Founders in Fleet #4
Let’s start with proudly announcing that Fleet #4 is global — 11 startups with 12 founder nationalities: Belgian, Canadian, Danish, Finnish, French, Indian, Indonesian, Israeli, Tunisian, Indonesian, Romanian, Saudi Arabian, and American!
This is another major milestone for us… From day one, we wanted to help immigrant founders from all over the world. We first started with the French community because of our Founding Team being from France with a tight network with the entrepreneur community there.
After three programs in less than 1.5 years, we’re seeing the magic happen. In Fleet #4, 30% are founded by French entrepreneurs, the remaining 8 startups are from the rest of Europe, Asia, and United States.
Now, let’s talk about the innovative projects we have in Fleet #4.
We’re dipping our toes into helping companies in IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, HealthTech, FinTech, SaaS, EdTech, Immigration, Bots, Deep Learning, Music, Retail and more.
Without further ado, we’d like to give you to take an early peek at your newest addition to the Silicon Valley ecosystem...
Introducing, Fleet #4
Big Boy Systems
Big Boy Systems creates immersive reality video content by combining 3D imaging and binaural sound, thanks to an immersive forehead camera.
Botmatic allows you to engage HR candidates with startups through personalized and automated conversations via chatbot on messenger. The chatbot is multi-platform and sits at the base of any site.
Heroes Jobs is a mobile app that connects hot startups and talents worldwide via 60 sec video interactions.
Herrmutt Lobby turns any song into a multi-touch and evolutive graphic interface. Their app Playground already hit +1M downloads!
Jenyai is a student tutor and a "school buddy" to help students with their homework. Their bot is able to answer your question when there is no adult present to help you.
Unlike traditional law firms, PassRight is designed to give you full services from reputable attorneys with the use of a friendly, easy to use software, that guarantees safety and accuracy.
Thanks to Practech, caregivers and chronic medication patients are able to scan and verify medication at home via a wearable barcode scanner. Now, you can make refill payments and check fitness data without leaving your home.
RapidMathematix utilizes Deep Learning algorithms to dynamically price and promotes products to match their real-time value based on freshness, inventory levels, and market conditions.
Sparkwork is a powerful intranet sharing and training software for your entire workforce. We focus on helping the 80% of workforces in today’s business — the deskless workers.
Satochi is an app that simplifies the investment process by rounding up everyday transactions to the nearest whole and placing the difference in user’s individual cryptocurrency portfolios.
Veamly helps support teams optimize their attention span by integrating into existing support tools. Veamly analyzes, flags, then prioritize all inbound messages according to its context.
See them pitch live at our next event!
You don’t have to let us convince you that these projects aren’t, well, cool as sh*t!
Don’t believe us nor are you convinced? Join us for our Pick Your Fledglings launch party on March 28th and be the judge for yourself!
At the event, we’re encouraging the crowd and mentors in the crowd, if there are any, to pick which Fledglings (this is what we call our startups) are their favorite.
Bonus: You’ll get to mentor a startup if you truly believe you can play a key influencer in their projects.
In closing, we want to thank you
The Refiners cannot do this alone, nor do we want to. That’s where you, our valued and respected community, come into play. We want to encourage those with the time, expertise and motivation, to join us and give foreign founders the best Silicon Valley has to offer.
Please drop us a line if you’d like to be involved. From kindergarten to corporate, there’s always a way to help. Thank you for promoting opportunity and equality in the startup ecosystem. We’re also here to answer any questions you have, just post it in a comment below!