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Accelerate Cambridge makes first two seed grants


Themes: Entrepreneurship

Real-world risk prediction and a dynamic data gathering platform are the first two ventures to receive funding from the new Cambridge Judge Business School ‘Accelerate Cambridge’ business accelerator

???????sThe two fledgling companies, Cytora and Stat.io, have each received £15,000 to progress their entrepreneurial ideas to the next level, after impressing the newly formed CJBS investment committee chaired by Sir Paul Judge, one of the School’s founding benefactors. Cytora and Stat.io were put forward based on the recommendation of Accelerate Cambridge director Hanadi Jabado, who has been working with them for nearly a year.

Accelerate is CJBS’s unusual in-house incubator for budding businesses ventures, where young entrepreneurs can walk in with nothing more than an idea and a dream. If Accelerate Cambridge believes in the team’s potential, they will work intensively with the entrepreneurs to progress their idea.

Cytora is Josh Wallace (26) and Richard Hartley (25), who have come up with a system to predict country instability that they are confident will change technology-driven risk prediction, making the world a better-prepared place. They have now gathered a team of seven to work on delivering version two of their product.

Stat.io is the brainchild of Nathan Boublil (28), who co-founded the young company with Elliott Verreault (25) and Mike Williamson (24). The trio are developing the world’s first search engine for socio-economic data. The Stat.io online system brings together meaningful information in a meaningful way on a single platform. It has already attracted a prize and some funds from Google.

Accelerate Cambridge Director, Hanadi Jabado, herself a serial entrepreneur and business angel, said the two young ventures were now well-positioned for the next crucial stage of their journey:

The money is obviously important but, crucially, they have now also had 10 intensive months of coaching, mentoring, networking and introductions that are priceless. We push them hard; they mature and gain skills fast. Having Cambridge Judge support gives potential investors confidence in them, as due diligence in early stage ventures is so difficult.”

Unlike the usual funding model, Accelerate Cambridge takes no equity stake in the young ventures it supports, but there is some ‘payback’ expected. The entrepreneurs helped are asked, when they begin to make money, to pay back the amount they received (or more) to fund future teams.

Jabado is confident of the future success of both Cytora and Stat.io:

Josh and Richard from Cytora are very hardworking and visionary – they have a really clear road map of where they want to go. While their idea has been done before, it has never been done this way. Stat.io have very strong values and a strong sense of where they are going and how they need to get there. Again, the product has been done before but, again, it’s the way they package and deliver it that is so special. For these two businesses, a good analogy is Facebook – there are other social platforms out there but it’s Facebook that has packaged and delivered a really special and popular experience.”

Accelerate Cambridge will continue to be involved with the two young companies as they grow and is bringing through more start-ups all the time. Along with Cytora and Stat.io, there are 20 other ventures at different stages of development. Not all will get to the funding stage, but all will undergo the unique Accelerate Cambridge experience.

Social enterprise is increasingly the hallmark of many new entrepreneurs, with over half of the start-ups coming through Accelerate Cambridge now having a social enterprise element. Cambridge Judge Business School Professor of Innovation & Organisation Dr Paul Tracey will lead a new social innovation specialism on the Cambridge MBA next year, reflecting the growing interest in the field amongst MBA students coming to Cambridge, who are increasingly opting to do their main MBA project with social enterprises.

Professor Tracey commented:

Many entrepreneurs are increasingly motivated primarily by a desire to solve a particular social issue or problem rather than by financial or other personal considerations. It’s great to see Cambridge Judge helping to incubate two really exciting social ventures, which, alongside our other initiatives, demonstrates our commitment to supporting entrepreneurship for social change.”