In a terrific example of a self-organising industry, some of OpenCoffee Greece's founding members and a number of web entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have launched Openfund, offering seed capital for internet startups in Greece and South East Europe.
The model draws inspiration from YCombinator and Seedcamp, with plans to fund up to five startups per round. The startups will receive €20k- 30k in return for up to 20% equity. Perhaps more importantly, Openfund aims to mentor the startups too. To this end it has enlisted a number of well known business figures from Greece, that are willing to consult the startups free of charge — among them: the country managers of Microsoft and Google.
Timeline for first round:
The fund has been hailed rather enthusiastically as a game changer in a traditionally VC dry region. Venture capitals in Greece tend to make late stage investments and are rather risk averse in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere.
- Call for applications: Open, up to September 30, 2009
- Evaluation and selection: October 1 to November 15, 2009
- Seeding: Starts December 1, 2009
- Next call: December 1, 2009
Very few technology companies have been funded so far. Opencoffee Greece has managed to attract 200+ people audiences every month, giving space for new and old startups to present their work. Complaints about the lack of funding have been a constant theme of these meetings. It is out of these complaints that the idea of Openfund was conceived. And the name denotes the connection.
Despite legitimate questions about the next financing rounds (such as, a) whether they will happen and b) who will be willing to undertake them), the overall reception of the idea has been positive. In other words, the seed is sown. We have to wait and see if it will bloom too.