Survey completed by: Paul Van Bommel
Sector: Property Tech
Cutoff: October 2019
Q: How did you hear about the EIC? Why did you decide to apply for the EIC and how many submissions took you to receive the grant/equity?
We actually heard from H2020 in 2018 through Paul, one of the Lira founders. We were initially sceptical (‘why should the EU give us funds?’), and thought we might be in a bit too early stage, but he was able to convince us that companies similar to ourselves had been successful with him. So we went for it.
Q: Do you think it was an easy process to go through?
The EIC administrative processes, as well as the proposal structure needs could certainly be easier to navigate. Fortunately Lira was very experienced in these subjects, and a big help.
Q: Let’s deep dive into the details of the proposal: any general tips & hints on the overall documentation preparation?
First, nobody knows your business better than you as founder. So we believe it’s important that you take control of this, and do not rely on more junior team members or any consultant.
Think of it as a business plan, where you try to convince a venture capitalist or bank. Be enthusiastic, compelling, and well-documented. Both strong narratives and strong facts make a real impact.
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “excellence” section of the proposal?
Really show off what you’ve done, both technically and commercially. If something was difficult to build: Demonstrate how you did it. If you had an early-stage test with clients, demonstrate the results!
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “impact” section of the proposal?
Show you’ve done your homework. Factors that really count are that you can convincingly show the market size, and the way your problem is solved in the industry now, and after your product implementation. Quantify everything!
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the “quality and efficiency of implementation” of the proposal?
Show that you know the sector, stakeholders, and channel partners. What are their interests? What are their fears? What will drive them to change to your product?
Q: Once you received the invitation for the second step in Brussels, how did you prepare for it?
The timeline was surprisingly narrow. From the moment we were invited, we had less than two weeks to Brussels. We practiced our pitch slides nearly every day (be aware it cannot be changed after hand-in), and built a detailed Q&A document, prepping any curve ball they might throw us.
Q: Any practical tips & hints on the second step in Brussels? More than on the specific questions, could you share with us how you felt the interaction with the panel went and what their expectations were?
The panel was very professional, and their questions well thought-out. Not unlike questions you’d expect from a private venture capitalist. Some big-picture conceptual, some detailed to see how well you know your subject. All in all they’re looking to figure out if you’ll be a good investment for their funds.
Q: Would you recommend this programme to other SMEs?
Absolutely. Our experience has been very positive.
Q: How, in your opinion, the EIC is perceived among the investor community?
I think it’s perceived as a positive impact on the landscape, and a collaborator more than a competitor. Investors like it if you attracted public funds, it shows you were prepared, and is real validation. Also, the EIC is specifically set up to allow for co-investment with private investors.
Q: Once you received the funding, how closely did you follow the project plan?
We set up a specific data room to track our biggest expenses, to make sure we can justify ourselves in a post-review. Other than that, the plan are ‘stakes in the ground’. The EIC knows that young companies can follow different courses along the way based on validated learnings.
Q: How has receiving the funding changed your company? etc. Product, company, reputation, interest from potential partners (strategic, commercial, etc.).
The main impact has been on hiring. The EIC moves in a very nimble way, funds were transferred fast and on the agreed time. This is vital for planning ahead, knowing when you can onboard certain people and make certain investments. That’s been a big help.
Paul van Bommel
Co-founder at Geowox
As co-founder and COO of Geowox, Paul is in charge of building and executing business plans and commercial strategy. Previously, he built and led sales teams in eBay, Google, Rocket Internet and Twitter. He is an experienced startup mentor and holds a masters degree in business from Copenhagen Business School and Bocconi University, Milan.