If you follow our blog, maybe you are thinking we are not moving too much in the last 3 months and nothing further from the truth. 
We've been applying for a couple of acceleration programs and now we would like to share with you our experience.

What is an Startup Acceleration Program?

One company, organization, business angel or a group of them open a process to help a few startups to accelerate their business (See Seed accelerator in Wikipedia for more info). These are the normal steps:
  • Open the selection (Startups apply)
  • The selected startups receive some funding (in exchange for a %)
  • Work during few months in a free co-working space with other startups and with some mentors
  • At the end of the program, startups get a chance to pitch to top angel investors and venture capitalists for funding. 

Obviously, these companies are not NGOs, so the reason why they provide you with (some) money, support and mentoring is because they hope to get a revenue. So, the last point is really important for them (and for you of course :-D).

The idea

We are focus in Public transport applications so, of course, our idea, our business model is based on a transit solution. One of the thinks that we learned is that the idea is not so important. 
You can see in the picture below a summary of our solution, in a future post we will explain  it carefully.
We are working almost a year on our transport apps but taking into account that our dedication is not 100% to Quoders yet, our milestones take longer than we wish.
We had the idea, we had the knowledge to do it but we hadn't the time.
One day reading a blog we hear about accelerator programs and we thank they could be a solution for us.

Applying

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We started applying to Startupbootcamp for Berlin. We had to fill an online form about our idea, the team, etc... Also, we also showed them an application (they like to see at least a prototype). They contacted us asking also for a short video where the whole team (if possible) simply introduce ourselves (1-2 minutes long with a webcam).  
One month later Alex Farcet (Startupbootcamp Director) informed us we have passed to the next round. We were selected between more than 300 startups. At that moment only 50 startups continue "playing", the next test was an interview by Skype with Alex Farcet. From the 50 teams interviewed, 20 would be selected to participate at the 2 Day Selection Event in Berlin, and 10 would be the winners.
We had the call with Alex and one of the surprising things is that he asked a lot more about the team and our commitment that any other thing. It was a very interesting chat of around 30 minutes.

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In the middle of the process of Startupbootcamp we found information about another very important accelerator program in Valencia (Spain) so we applied too.
In this case we had to sent some documentation. From PlugandPlay sent us a template to fill out. It was some kind of business plan :-)

We were selected for the second phase. And they asked us:
  • A powerpoint presentation in english (maximun 20 slides) selling our project and with an specific point of the project status and the metrics.
  • Access to a beta or a demo (at least in case we have nothing yet).
  • In case it was a hardware project (it wasn't our case) a video with a demo (with as much details as possible).

They even passed us a presentation example, really good, to be honest, so let us share it with you too.
At the end we were called for the third and last phase (more than 150 startups applied and only 10 were on this round). After that, they had to select 4-5 startups for the acceleration program.
Juan  Luis Hortelano (PlugAndPlay director in Spain and one of the most important bloggers in Spain) contacted us in order to have an interview by Skype.
We had the interview with Juan Luis and other 3 colleagues from PlugAndPlay. Again, they focused a lot on the team and the commitment. Of course, they also asked about the product and the business model. The duration of the call was about 45 minutes.

Results

Startupbootcamp: We weren't selected for the 2 Day Selection Event in Berlin. In this case we didn't receive any kind of feedback why we weren't selected between the 20 finalists.
Anyway, we are happy to be between the first 50 from more than 350 startups from all parts the world.

PlugandPlayAccelerator: We weren't selected either. Again, to be between the 10 finalist from more than 150 was a bittersweet experience. The good news is that Juan Luis Hortelano provided us with feedback and coming from a person with so many experience we think it's a good idea to have them into account. This is more or less a translation of his constructive feedback (let us keep some secrets ;-):
  • We like the team and the project in general terms.
  • It's not so clear the business model. It is not providing a clear focus. Also, you will need a lot of resource to escalate the consultancy part and this is not what Plug&Play is looking for.
  • There are a lot of competency in transit apps and you are at risk that Google try to "eat" all that market in any moment (with Google Transit).
  • The team is scattered and some of you are working yet.

Positive and Negative

We had to dedicate a lot of time and effort to apply to these programs. Not because they requested us lot of paperwork, that was the easiest part to be honest. In order to be able to answer the questions, prepare the presentations, etc... it's necessary to work a lot in your idea and focus a lot in the risks, the Strengths, Weaknesses, etc... 
Everybody in the team must to take a stance, it sounds like something easy but it isn't.

Ok, let's go with the summary, is it positive to apply to one of these accelerate program?

Positive:
  • You must to prepare some documentation and presentations, this is very good because you are obligated to put it on a paper.
  • They ask you a lot of interesting questions that maybe you didn't, so you must to think in your idea from a different perspective.
  • They give you a third party vision of your project. A clean vision. Many times, we were so concentrated in our idea that we didn't spend a minute to know what could think other people about it.
  • We had to do a very hard job in order to align the whole team.
  • They ask you about the money, the business, etc... so it's a good chance to think it your idea can provide revenue or it only will do a better world ;-)

Negative:
  • In our case nothing was negative, maybe to be so close to get it the both times. We felt like the guys that are the 4th in an Olimpic Games, you know, so close of the medals and so far from the glory. 

Conclusion (Worth the effort?)

DEFINITIVELY YES.

Maybe, after reading the post you are thinking a lot of effort and poor results, but we see the things in a different way.

Thanks to this job we have thought a lot in our product. We have analyzed the strengths, weakness , we have discussed about the future.
Also, we have received very interesting feedback from people with a lot of experience on Internet and Startups and we have taken note.
We have learnt during the process and we've done self-criticism.
And finally, we have known each other a lot better and we are a better team no.

So if you are asking if it worth the effort for you team and/or your idea, from our perspective the answer is YES, ABSOLUTELY.


How to get accepted? (The million $ question)

Maybe we are not the best to explain what is needed to get accepted when we didn't get it.

If you look what they are looking for, you will notice it's very similar:

Startupbootcamp: 5 Tips to Get Accepted

1. Be 100% Committed
Joining Startupbootcamp requires total focus and availability. The rest of your life — from jobs to studies to, yes, your social life — has to be on hold.
2. Be a Team
We love teams who have done stuff together before – another startup, being colleagues, or just knowing each other really well. Startupbootcamp will put on tons of pressure and tension. We look for tight teams who can handle it.
3. Be Coachable
Of course your idea and product are brilliant. But can you listen to (often contradictory) input, see the wood for the trees and act on the best advice for you?
4. Be Resilient
You and your idea will be questioned, argued with and pushed around. You have to be determined, unstoppable.
5. Have a track record
This may be your first startup. But what have you achieved before that’s truly impressive?

Plug&Play Valencia: Assestment
- You have a company or you are working on it
- You have at least a developer
- You are looking for funding
- You have a product or service that can be tested, checked. Not only a business plan on a paper.
- Someone in the team is able to talk english (this one is from Spanish perspective)
- The project must be international and you would like to go to Silicon Valley.

Maybe you didn't notice one thing yet. It was surprising for us in the beginning, they don't ask about THE IDEA. How is it possible? Isn't THE IDEA the most important thing? 

Perhaps, haven't all of the entrepreneurs the best idea in the world (that anybody thought before us)? DEFINITIVELY, not for them. The most important thing for them is the COMMITMENT. And if you think about that 5 minutes you will probably agree with them. Would you lend your money to someone who doesn't believe 120% in his/her project?

And the second important thing is THE TEAM. It should be a complementary team (better if you have a developer and a marketing guy than two developers, etc...).
During both interviews they pushed us a lot about our commitment and also a lot about the team, our rèsumè, how did we meet each other, our relationship, who is taking care of each part of the project. 
We talked about 70% of the time about commitment and team and 30% about the business plan and the idea.
The idea is not the important thing, it's the EXECUTION, that's the step where fail most of us.

And finally THE PROJECT. Regarding this point it's important that you are able to show how you and them are going to get money with it. It's a "silly" detail but they are not NGOs, they are assuming a big risk giving you money in exchange for "a hope". 
So, you must prove you are not "a hope", you are "a reality", and they will have a revenue for each $ they invest on your idea (and of course thanks to that the world will be a bit better ;-D).

 
 

MadridBus v0.99.5 Beta. 

This is a new transport app for Android devices that provides info about the lines, stops and timetable of buses in Madrid (EMT). It's a FREE APP.

Why is this app different or better from the dozens of apps in the market?
  • It's extremely easy to use. You don't need to know what line you need, where is the stop, NOTHING. You simply say where you want to go and the app will calculate the closest bus stop and the line you need to take. That's all.
  • It's in 5 languages (English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish). We want tourists, foreigns, Erasmus ;-) to use the app too.


From Madrid to heaven

On Nov 29, 2011 Quoders started a fantastic adventure with BilbaoBus. It was a different product (after Archer Master), a different market, so we hadn't any idea what would happen. In less than one year we have something in the market very close to the app that we dreamed, probably better, thanks to the advice and support of our users.
A few months ago we noticed that we were spending too much time for one app in order to get the quality that we wanted and it was bad for the business ;-).

And here is the elephant in the room, if you have a look to BilbaoBus and MadridBus you will see they are very similar, in fact, they have the same core app. But both of them have a very important difference in the backend. We use General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) as source data for MadridBus. GTFS is an standard format proposed and supported by Google and it's being used right now for almost 500 cities in the world. It means that once we complete the beta for MadridBus and the users gave us their approve we are in a position to raise hundreds of transport apps in the world. But this is material for other Post in the future :-).

Features

If you already know BilbaoBus then you are ready to use MadridBus. In other case you can find more details about MadridBus on this page.

Things you need to know about the MadridBus

 
 
We are very close to complete our last sprint before releasing a new version of BilbaoBus, in this case it will be v.0.99.4 Beta.

Of course, we'll be providing you a detailed post with technical details and new features included on this new version, as we did with the previous version: BilbaoBus v0.99.3 beta.

Anyway, we are so excited with the new features that we wanna to show you an advance.
 
 
As we told in our March post about the release v.0.99.3 of BilbaoBus we've included an important (invisible) feature, Google Analytics,  to learn more about the habits of our users and so be able to improve our app on that way.
After two months in the market and more than 2500 active users we have got some lesson learned.
In our last post we talked about the comments and rating of our users and how we try to take them into account for future improvements.
Anyway, it's a reality that most of the users don't provide direct feedback but now thanks to Google Analytics we are receiving it anyway.

We are working in the new release of BilbaoBus v0.99.4 (we hope to have it before the end of this month) and we are including some improvements based on analysis of Analytics data.

What Analytics is telling us

In the picture above we can find very interesting statistics. Let's discuss topic by topic.
  • 81.17% Returning Visitor. Very good news, it means that most of our users continue using the app and don't remove it after first testing. This number is quite aligned with our downloads vs active users.
  • 7.04 pages/visit and Avg Visit 00:04:25.We need to check this more carefully. It looks like good news because the users spend more than 4 minutes each time they open the app. If they are looking for different stops and/or lines that's fine but if they spend all this time to find the info they need, we are in trouble. It won't take long until the users search for a new app. We have clear this is a "service" app, so the users only open it when they need the info regarding the buses, etc... So, it's mandatory to find it easy and fast. On the other hand it could be that our users like to check for different options or spend sometime "playing" with the app while they are waiting next bus (what means terrific news for us).
  • Line Visits evolution. We started the first week with a big increment of the visits (this is due to the time spent by our user to upgrade the app to the version 0.99.3 that supported Analytics.  The next 3 weeks we kept more or less the same visits and we had an increment the last month due to the more than 1000 downloads during April.
  • Line Avg. Visits Duration evolution.  The time spent by our users each time they open the app is ok. We think between 3-5 minutes is a good average. It should be enough time to find the info they need and check for other lines, read the news, etc...
This screen from Analytics is specially useful. It gives us at a glance how our users are navigating through the app.
We've added the view of the home screen of the app in order to help you to understand the graphic. As you can see the name of the options are self-explanatory.
  • home. As normal most of the users go trough the home (we are trying to understand how is possible some users go directly to other section :-D). In this page the most important topic is that most of the users continue navigating. Only 12.8% (in red) drop off.
  • lines. Most of the users like to go directly to check the line they need and once they get it go to Stopdetail (this is an screen that show details about the Stop, including timetable, next bus estimation, Streetview, etc...). After stopdetail only 5.66% of the users left the app. So, it seems they like to check of the lines.
  • favorites. 15.3% of the traffic go directly to Favorites. To be honest we though more people would use it. Anyway if we check only the "Returning Visitors" the number of users that go to Favorites is a bit higher.
  • goto. This is our STAR feature but it's not being used so much as we expected. We think it's due to most of the people that is using the app are from Bilbao so they have an idea where is the Stop or what is the Line they need. Anyway, we think that it will be a fantastic feature for big cities 
  • stops. Definitely, our users look more useful Line screen than Stops. 
  • news. 5% of the users  are looking to the news. It make sense because we are only providing the info regarding BilboBus than normally are regarding changes in the service.
  • other. The rest of pages of the app aren't almost visited. It's quite normal. One of them is the "Information" that shows Quoders information. Only 1.87% of the users navigate till Greentab screen where we show the CO2 info (we need to think if we remove this screen from the app or if we change it.).
Apart of this info in other graphs we found that most of the people is using Spanish (89%), 10% is using Euskera (Country Basque local language) and less than 1% english. (So, definitively not too much tourists are downloading our app :-( YET).


Conclusion

Returning to the begin of this post users continue providing us with very good feedback. They tell us what their favourite features are and how they want to use our app. 

After analyzing the info above we have to take some decisions about the improvements for the new release of BilbaoBus v0.99.4 (vs the current v.0.99.3).
  • Most of the users go from Lines to StopDetails page. We should think in a way to avoid this step to our users.
  • Should we remove Greentab screen? Nobody is using it but at the sametime it's not disturbing anyone. So, what's the best choice?
  • Is there some way we can get that Bilbao tourist have a look to our app?

As always your feedback will be more than welcome. Leave a comment or send us an email from our Contact webpage.

In our next post we will provide you the first screens of the new release of BilbaoBus and the new features.