Boosting your Start-up to the Next Level

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Fünfzehn europäische Start-ups pitchen ihre Business-Idee beim EELISA Next Level Event der FAU

Fifteen European Start-ups pitched in front of a jury of investors at the EELISA Next Level Event

“Why do you need additional funding if you already have paying customers? Can you tell us more about your team? Are your customers self-paying or do you want to enter into cooperations with health insurance companies?”’ At the EELISA Next Level Pitch and Networking Event on Friday, 22 March 2024, 15 start-ups from seven different EELISA partner universities from six countries faced challenging questions from a jury of five investors.

Three minutes of pitching, seven minutes of questions from the jury – this is how the start-ups were tested for the quality of their business model as well as its scalability and market potential. During the day all participating founders had the opportunity to network with more than twenty investors and exchange ideas with other start-ups. The three teams with the most convincing pitches were awarded the EELISA Next Level Startup Awards.

The start-ups presented ideas on digital mousetraps, logistics in warehouses, AI in the healthcare sector, and an app for people with eating disorders. The participating start-ups were focused on digital, tech, and deep tech, and were seeking seed or Series A funding, which typically ranges from 500,000 to 5 million euros.

Ariane Coletta, an Investment Manager at Müller-Medien in Nuremberg, was one of the five investors on the jury. “Start-ups working with artificial intelligence are currently of particular interest to our portfolio. We are entering a new era with many untapped opportunities!”

This trend was also evident in the winning teams of the pitch competition. All three start-ups use AI: Rayscape (3rd place), a start-up from Bucharest, to assist radiologists in making diagnoses based on image analysis, and the Italian start-up Olivia (2nd place) to analyze social media data to predict restaurant visitors. The winner of the pitch competition was Syntonym. The Turkish start-up has developed an AI that can replace faces on video recordings with artificially generated ones in real-time. This technology retains all emotions and facial expressions, which can be important data for monitoring a train station, for example, without violating personal rights.

In addition to the jury, the pitches were listened to by more than 100 visitors among whom were many investors, various members of the EELISA partner universities’ start-up consulting services, and other start-ups who wanted to get in touch with the more established founders. A case in point were Daniel Kessler and Zukhra Mirakilova, who are still in the early stages of their start-up IDO! – an app that provides potential founders with a platform and AI-based support to turn their business ideas into reality. “Our founding team came together at the EELISA Entrepreneurship School at FAU in October 2023,” explains Daniel Kessler, a student at FAU. “Our team is spread across the different EELISA partner universities, but we have been working on our idea online since October. Since then, we have also been trying to participate in as many EELISA innovation and entrepreneurship programs as possible,” explains his colleague Zukhra, also a student at FAU.

They use events such as EELISA Next Level to expand their network and learn from more experienced start-ups. This is particularly important, emphasizes investor Ariane Coletta and advises all those interested in founding a company: “Keep getting feedback from friends and investors. But also build up a network of people in the same position: another CEO or CFO with whom you can discuss specific topics!”

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