The RAPTOR Small Grants program is now officially up and running with our first cohort entering their second week of the eight week program.
Being a Panel Member and Mentor for the RAPTOR Small Grants Program, I had the privilege of reviewing the initial submissions to the problem statements; I was also involved in the final selection process and choosing the winners. After 6 weeks, it was a privilege to finally meet the winners in person last Friday.
I know the RAPTOR Team is thrilled to be having these enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneurs in the first cohort of the program. On behalf of RAPTOR, I would like to welcome aboard WeLikeShopping and Lamppost Technology in the retail category and The Genie Tool and Oprillo in the Urban Environment category – We at Raptor look forward to working with the winners and developing some awesome solutions and products.
I have been involved in the UK start-up scene for a couple of years now and I have seen different organisations approach seed-funding and incubating start ups in various different ways; whether it is financing, mentoring, incubation / office space or providing sandbox environments – each approach is unique. In the past 12 months I have been involved with 2 separate programs; The Cisco BIG Awards and the RAPTOR Small Grants Program.
The RAPTOR Program is a unique approach – start-ups respond to industry submitted problem statements to the start-up community with a view to provide a solution. This is a novel approach and one that I am very much looking forward to seeing the outcome emerge.
What makes this experience even more rewarding for me is not only seeing the ideas from initial submission, but actually meeting the start-up founders that will be moving into the RAPTOR offices last week for an open round table discussion to help develop their solutions.
To be honest, I think I got more out of the session than the start-up participants.
But, the sole purpose of the RAPTOR program is to find bright early stage start-ups and help them develop solutions for real world needs with the RAPTOR partners and stakeholders.
RAPTOR is also a key strategic pillar to the Cisco British Innovation Gateway program; a five year program to assist and develop start-ups in London and the UK.
Over the next 8 weeks, the start-ups will be collaborating with the key stakeholders, mentors and programmers to help create their solutions in their new home on the Digital Peninsula at RAPTOR HQ in Mitre Passage, Greenwich.
I am personally looking forward to working with some the winning teams to help develop their solutions, both technically and assisting with their business planning and commercial offerings – but I have a feeling I will be the one learning a thing or two about launching and nurturing starts-ups.
What I love about the RAPTOR Program and working in the scene generally, is the passion and infectious enthusiasm demonstrated by the start-up founders -- I am excited to witness first-hand the results of this collaboration of energy, ideas and industry knowledge over the coming weeks. Good Luck guys!