When designing a Funding Program together with FiBAN and Nordic Angel Program last year, we focused on what startups actually need – useful feedback, hands-on experience, and funding.

This year we are committed to helping entrepreneurs on their journey to success in a plain and practical way, and we have our partners – FiBAN and Nordic Angel Program – with us again. #ActionMatters.

We say no to standard pitching competition at Arctic15. Instead – we are organizing a Funding Program for entrepreneurs. Let us quickly tell you what it is not.

Not a pitching competition.

Pitching competitions have become engraved into the startup culture. Almost any startup event proudly adds pitching competition in the agenda, hoping to generate some extra buzz around it. But, setting aside the entertainment aspect, what is there for your business? A chance to get funding? Only about ¼ of the deals you see on Shark Tank result in real deals. PR? You could do a better job by posting a video of your cat on your Instagram business account. Let’s face it, pitching competitions are not that effective when it comes to real results.

Not a startup rockstar show.

An average pitching competition lets judges read a one-pager for a few minutes and then asks them to decide the winner based on a 3-minute presentation and a 2 minute Q&A session. With no disrespect to any participants, but even Air Guitar Championships have more strict rules, regulations, and practices while the World Conker Championships are definitely more fun. The truth is, one cannot possibly choose a winning company judging only by their stage performance squeezed in quick three minutes. Who on earth would invest in a nice stage performance? To get your funding round closed you need to put quite a bit of time and effort and invest in building your relationships.

Not a way to win money.

With all your experience in business, be it even a small one, do you honestly still believe in “easy money”? Pitching competitions are often advertised as a way to “win” money, i.e. get money in exchange for the pitch. Funding program is not a lucky win, but a result of persistence, dedication and collaborative work between startups and investors.

Ok, so what is it then?

A journey, not a destination.

Funding program is exactly what it reads – a program for early stage startups to get funded. The Program starts on February, 12 and culminates on June 5-6 at Arctic15. Ultimately, it is a 4-month program during which companies and investors get to know each other and find ways to collaborate. Startup applications will be evaluated by a group of investors, consisting of business angels and some VCs from the Nordics and Baltics. After careful selection, the list will be narrowed down to 30 companies that will move to the next round. Companies that weren’t selected in the top 30, will be given individual feedback on request.

Success is not an accident.

Unlike many other programs, we want to make sure that the investors are the right match for the startups. Once the applications are narrowed down to TOP 30, startups will be introduced to investors and go through the business together. At the same time, the TOP 30 list will be published on arcticstartup.com and CoFounder magazine and distributed to the network of tech journalists and media partners. Selected startups will enter a period of public voting. Everyone will get a chance to vote for their favorite company from the Nordics and Baltics. The ability of a team to gather a buzz around themselves is a strong indication of their ability to succeed and gain traction. The voting results will not only be shared with all the investors, but the results themselves will act as if they were a voting investor on the jury.

At this stage, startups will be invited to sign a term sheet and to provide more information to investors. This will help startups to get their profile in order and investors – to see the real commitment to the deal. The purpose of the program is not only helping investors choose the right startups, but also helping startups select the most suitable investors for their growth.

Startups and investors will also go through a due diligence process, and once ready, move the next stage – negotiating the Term Sheets. Companies that are serious and ready to sign papers will be taken to the finals.

Action Matters.

Based on the results of public voting and communication, investors will select 15 companies. Companies that don’t make it to the Top15 will receive individual written feedback from investors and comments on what to improve on. The Top15 will be invited for 1-on-1 sparring workshop with investors. The finals will take place at Arctic15, where startups will present their businesses and announce the deals.

Last year, Finnish company Screenful hit a home run and was able to top secure 115k with the Funding Program. Screenful develops a project management tool which provides project management teams visual dashboards and automated team status reports. Their CEO Sami Linnanvuo told us about his experience from the program in this post.

“Arctic15 has always been focused on building relationships and making deals. We wanted to extend these values to our program for startups, and that is how the Funding Program was born. We don’t believe in startup rockstar mentality and strive to inspire collaboration, commitment and passionate work in entrepreneurs. Action matters!” comments Taru Ryske, Arctic15 Director.

“FiBAN investors are really lining up for this spring’s program, as the quality of startups last year was really cutting-edge. We are looking for startups which have great potential in scaling up internationally – our group of international angels can open up their own home markets to the startups, and in addition, share their expertise with the best entrepreneurs”, adds Reetta Ilo, FiBAN’s International Affairs Manager who facilitates the round.

The application for startups is open now.

Funding Program is designed for early stage, pre-seed or seed startups from the Nordics & Baltics looking for angel investment or aiming to close a funding round in the next 3-4 months. If you are one of them, apply here.

If you know founders who are in the middle of fundraising, share the love and help them by forwarding this application link.

Apply here: http://bit.ly/a15-funding-program-application