Program

Tech startups with diverse teams go through our 8-weeks pre-accelerator program when they need guidance and support to grow.

Applications will open soon for the 2021 Cohort

Mission

We support tech startups with diverse teams through the first stages of their growth.

How

Get a personalised, hands-on experience, with your lead mentor guiding you like an advisor and StepFWD PMs acting as an extension of your team.

Focus

First-time founder in need of a confidence boost? We got you! Achieve focus by talking to experienced mentors and investors who understand what you're going through.

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What’s in it for you?

Practical steps

Work side by side with seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts in hands-on workshops where they guide your steps, share frameworks, give you feedback, and answer your questions.

Entrepreneurial mind-shift

We teach you how to talk with your customers to validate your startup! Do the work, get out there for feedback, iterate, and build the right product!

Tailored Mentorship

We pair your startup with a lead mentor who will advise and guide you for the duration of the program. You’ll also have 1-on-1 discussions with 10s of entrepreneurs, investors and corporate partners.

Master your pitch

Craft the best pitch for your startup through direction, feedback, and practice, practice, practice.

Community for life

You’ll be forever part of the StepFWD Community and have access to the TechHub Bucharest and Google for Startups communities.

We're here for you

StepFWD is a support system that offers guidance not just during the program but also after it. Once you “graduate”, you can attend recurring Office Hours sessions with the StepFWD team.

Program Schedule

For 8 weeks, you become part of a program that gets your startup into shape, from product to pitching and everything in between. Each week packs a workshop and mentoring sessions focused on specific topics where you get to work with founders who’ve been where you are, plus industry pros who give you their best advice.

A lead mentor will be by your side every step of the way.

The schedule below is subject to small changes.

Week 1: Intro

Monday, 10:00 - 17:00
Program Kickoff (Orientation, elevator pitch practice)
Meet the lead mentors
Meet Google for Startups

Thursday, 14:30-17:30
Online tools training with PMs
Speed mentoring practice
Roundtable: Meet the StepFWD alumni

Week 2: Legal Mechanics & Customer Development

Monday, 09:30 - 14:00
Workshop: Startup legal mechanics with Tudor Stanciu
Workshop: Customer development with Raluca Apostol and Letiția Ștefan

Thursday, 10:00 - 16:30
Hands on*: Startup legal mechanics
Hands on*: Customer development
All-hands sessions

Week 3: Business Models & Product Development

Monday, 09:30 - 14:00
Workshop: Business models with Mircea Vadan
Workshop: Product development with Monica Obogeanu and Alexandra Anghel

Thursday, 10:00 - 16:30
Hands on*: Business models
Hands on*: Product development
All-hands session

Week 4: Sales & Marketing

Monday, 10:00 - 14:00
Workshop: Product marketing with Irina Scarlat and Andra Zaharia
Workshop: Sales with Gv Freeman and Ciprian Borodescu

Thursday, 10:00 - 16:30
Hands on*: Product marketing
Hands on*: Sales
All-hands session

Week 5: Fundraising & Pitching

Monday, 09:30 - 14:00
Workshop: Fundraising with Ciprian Borodescu and Daniel Dragomir
Workshop: How to pitch with Bogdan Apostol and Liviu Cadariu

Thursday, 10:00 - 16:30
Hands on*: Fundraising
Hands on*: How to pitch
All-hands session

Week 6: Break & Speed mentoring

Thursday, 10:00 - 18:00
Roundtable: Serial entrepreneurs share their story
Speed mentoring
All-hands session

Week 7: Pitch practice & Speed mentoring

Monday, 09:30 - 15:00
Pitch practice: Refine pitch deck with mentors
Pitch practice with the StepFWD team

Thursday, 13:30 - 18:00
Speed mentoring
All-hands session

Week 8: Pitch practice & Speed mentoring

Monday, 13:30 - 18:00
Speed mentoring
All-hands session

Thursday, 09:30 - 15:00
Pitch practice with mentors
Pitch practice with the StepFWD team

Week 9: DemoDay

Monday, all day
Pitch practice: Final rehearsal
Demo day

* During hands-on meetings, each startup will have a 20-minutes slot for discussing the assignment with the mentors and can also (optionally) listen to feedback give to other startups from their group.

Lead mentors

Talking with an experienced mentor can help you validate your assumptions and avoid common pitfalls, which cost you both money and time (you don’t have).



Achieve your goals

Lead mentors help you make sure you achieve the goal you set at the beginning of the pre-accelerator. They're there to help you build towards you goals but also break them. As you'll soon learn, sometimes you have to let go of old beliefs to embrace new ones in order to innovate and stay ahead of competitors.

A perfect match

In the first week of the program, we pair each StepFWD startup with a lead mentor. We look for both a professional and a personal match, to make sure you have a smooth, rewarding experience throughout the pre-accelerator.

How does it work?

You get a 30-minutes office hours session with your lead mentor and one of the program managers each week. Use this time to: talk about your last week’s progress, set up the plan for the following week, ask for help from your lead mentor and the program managers.

Your dedicated coach

We believe that a lead mentor is like a sports coach: they “train” you for the match day, but it’s up to you to put in the hard work and perform at your best when the time comes.


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Alexandra Roată
Manager Partner at Softlead
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Andreia Pătroiu
Chief Make It Happen at TalentBrowse
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Melania Moga
Product Consultant, Founder at Lean in Cluj


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Monica Obogeanu
Startup Programs Manager at Orange
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Alexandra Anghel
Director AI Engineering at Algoria
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Mihai Rotaru
Serial entrepreneur & angel investor


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Ciprian Borodescu
Head of Algolia R&D Romania
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Vlad Gliga
Co-founder & CEO at Rubik Hub
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Daniel Dragomir
Managing Partner at StepFWD

Activities Overview

We designed StepFWD with first-time founders in mind – as a journey that takes you through all the topics that are fundamental for a start-up.

Workshops

Get a 360-degree view on topics related to building a startup, such as customer and product development, business models, marketing, sales, startup legal mechanics, fundraising, and pitching.

Hands-on Sessions

Startups assemble into 2 working groups, each with 1 mentor. All startups get 20 minutes to collect feedback on their workshop assignments and can (optionally) learn from the feedback other startups from their group receive.

1-on-1 with Lead Mentors

Every Tuesday or Wednesday, startups meet with their lead mentor and StepFWD PMs for a 30 min call to talk about last week's progress and set up the plan for next week.

Pitch Practice

Rehearse and improve your pitch with mentors and the StepFWD team. These sessions help master the process of building and delivering the perfect presentation at (any) Demo Day.

Speed Mentoring

Engage with multiple mentors in a back-to-back meetings format. Short and focused, these meetings push you to showcase your startup's potential as effectively as you can.

All-hands sessions

This is when all the participants and the StepFWD team get together and share their highs and lows of the week.

Roundtables

We also include social activities for building connections with mentors and StepFWD alumni in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Virtual Coffee

We start the week with a 30 min virtual coffee where you get to know your fellow participants and also meet up with our community partners.

Demo Day

Mentors, investors, community partners, corporates, press attendees are invited together with the broader community to the final event. Each startup gets to showcase their business in a 5 min pitch.

What do our alumni say?

Our mission is to support tech startups with diverse teams through the first stages of their growth.



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"The program connected us with people who are well seasoned in the startup environment and could guide us with advice, on the level that we were at that particular moment. The StepFWD program exceeded my expectations. It was like a snowball rolling down the hill, just getting bigger and bigger."
Cristina Oprea
COO, LopiAI
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"I learned a lot and by the end of it I had a pretty good idea on what to do next. Later on, I found how useful it was to prepare for all the assignments, the go-to-market sheet, the one-liners, the pitch decks. They all have been useful since."
Ciprian Grigore
CTO, Licenseware
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"During the pre-accelerator, I learned practical things on how to grow my business. The most important ones are: test, test, test and test again followed by always listening and talking to your customers. Having mentoring sessions with experts, business owners and being able to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs, helped us skip some mistakes and accelerate our growth."
Ovidiu Stegari
CEO, Sitter
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"The reality of the program exceeded my expectations because there were many mentors with a lot of knowledge and expertise on each of their fields who wanted to share that knowledge, who listened and helped us individually with the issues each of us was facing in our startup. Additionally, listening to the other participants was actually really helpful as well, as it helped in assessing our startup in different ways."
Simina Stancu
CPO, Quandary Systems

Demo Day

The program wraps up with Demo Day, an event where participating teams showcase their business in a 5 min pitch, get feedback and connect with the audience.

Applications are closed

Applications for the 2021 Cohort are closed.