Program

StepFWD is an 8-week pre-accelerator program, aimed at fueling growth for tech companies with diverse teams.

Applications are now open for the 2021 Cohort

Apply now

Mission

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

How

Startups get a personalised hands-on experience, with their lead mentor guiding them like an advisor and the StepFWD PMs acting as an extension of their team.

Focus

We focus on building confidence for first-time founders that can benefit the most from building a relationship with experienced mentors and investors.

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Timeline

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May 18

Applications open

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Sept 5

Applications close

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Sept 27

Program kickoff

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Nov 22

Demo Day

What’s in it for you?

Learning Journey

All the activities are planned for first-time founders as a learning journey from 0 to awesome.

Pump up your startup

Grow your startup with StepFWD in 8 weeks as others do alone in months.

Practical steps

Activities are delivered by seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts and are designed to be actionable hands-on experiences.

International network

You will be part of the Google for Startups where you will have access to leading coworking spaces, accelerator programs and events all around the world.

Tailored Mentorship

Your startup will be paired with a lead mentor that will advise and guide you for the duration of the program.

Networking

You’ll get access to an extended network of entrepreneurs, investors and corporate partners, enabling you to navigate the local startup ecosystem.

Validate your startup

StepFWD guides you on how to talk with your customers to validate your startup!

Entrepreneurial mind-shift

Do the work, get out there for feedback, iterate, and built the right product!

Master your pitch

Craft the best pitch for your startup through practice, practice, practice.

We are here for you

StepFWD is a support system that offers guidance throughout the program and beyond. After the program, you will take part in recurrent Office Hours sessions with the StepFWD team.

Community for life

You’ll be part of the StepFWD Community and have access to the TechHub Bucharest community.

Hub Pass

As a part of the TechHub community you can work for free from co-working spaces all across Romania with the Orange Hub Pass.

Program Schedule

The StepFWD program is structured over an 8 weeks time span. During each week we will have workshops and mentoring sessions with different topics. All workshops will be delivered by the founders of established startups and seasoned industry professionals.

Your startup will be paired with a lead mentor that will advise and guide you for the duration of the program.

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 meeting

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 meeting

Week 4: Sales & Marketing

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

Thursday, 10:00 - 16:30
Hands on*: Product marketing
Hands on*: Sales / Growth Hacking
All-hands meeting

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 meeting

Week 6: Break & Speed mentoring

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

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 meeting

Week 8: Pitch practice & Speed mentoring

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

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 30-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 is valuable by itself.



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Achieve your goals

Lead mentors help you make sure you achieve the goal you set at the beginning of the pre-accelerator. They will be there to help you achieve things, but also break them, as during the life of a startup you always have to break things in order to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

A perfect match

In the first week of the program, we will pair the startups and lead mentors both from a professional point of view but also a personal match, in order to assure a smooth collaboration throughout the pre-accelerator.

How does it work?

You will have 30-minutes weekly office hours with your lead mentor and one of the program managers. During this time you will: talk about your last week’s progress, set up the plan for next week, ask for help from your lead mentor and the program managers.

Your dedicated coach

We believe that lead mentors are 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.

Activities Overview

We designed StepFWD with first-time founders in mind – as a journey that takes you through different areas of expertise which are absolutely required in a start-up.

Workshops

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

Hands-on Sessions

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

1-on-1 with Lead Mentors

Every Tuesday or Wednesday, startups will meet their designated 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 will help you achieve the perfect presentation at Demo Day.

Speed Mentoring

Engage with a lot of mentors in a back-to-back meetings format. These meetings are designed to be short and to the point, so you'll have to show your startup's potential in a time-effective manner.

All-hands meetings

During these meetings, all the participants and the StepFWD team will share their highs and lows of the week.

Roundtables

Social activities for building connections with mentors and the StepFWD alumni, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Share highs, lows, and lessons learned.

Virtual Coffee

We start the week with a 30 min virtual coffee, where you get to know your fellow participants, but 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 will showcase its 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 that 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 listen and talk 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 the participating teams will showcase their business in a 5 min pitch, get feedback and connect with the audience.

Apply now

Ready to Apply?

Applications for the 2021 Cohort are open!

Apply now*

* To ensure the participants and mentors' safety, activities will take place online.