In today’s highly competitive world with thousands of entrepreneurs vying for the spotlight, it truly takes a special push for budding businesses to succeed. Seedstars World is a global competition for startups which has activities in 65+ countries. BTW speaks to its co-founder and CEO Alisée de Tonnac about her challenges in making Seedstars World assist local entrepreneurs thrive.

Tell us briefly about yourself, where you are from and give us a brief summary of Seedstars.

Alisée de Tonnac is co-founder and CEO of Seedstars World. As far as Alisée remembers, she has been traveling around the world, from Singapore to Italy, California to France and Switzerland.

She was recently nominated Innovation Fellow at Wired UK and was a member of the Harvard Model Congress Europe where she won the Award of Excellence. Previously Alisée worked as product manager for luxury brands at L’Oréal Group and was part of the Italian team at Voyage Privé, a leading European startup.

Alisée de Tonnac is co-founder and CEO of Seedstars World

After traveling for a year around the world to set up the first edition of Seedstars World, an international seed stage startup competition focused on Emerging Markets, back in 2013, Alisée is now managing Seedstars World, the flagship brand of the global organisation Seedstars, which has activities in 65+ emerging markets (such as Nigeria, Colombia, Bahrain and Philippines). Seedstars’ objective is to connect stakeholders within these ecosystems, build companies with entrepreneurs, public and private partners and invest in the top high-growth companies.

How did Seedstars start? when was it founded and with what mission?

Seedstars is a Swiss based group of companies founded in 2012 which has the goal of impacting people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. Seedstars connects stakeholders within these ecosystems, builds companies from scratch with public and private partners and invests in high growth startups. Through different activities of startup scouting, company building and acceleration programs, the team has now access to entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, corporations and government officials from 60+ countries. The Seedstars group includes Seedstars World, a worldwide startup competition, sourcing in emerging markets the top talent from these regions; Seedstars Growth, a three month virtual acceleration program; Seedspace a network of coworking and co-living spaces now in 25+ countries and Seedstars Academy, a six months program to train aspiring local entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses.

If someone has an idea do you support them to make the idea to a business model?

Together with our private and public investors/partners we put together workshops, bootcamps and courses for “wannabe entrepreneurs” to help them build their MVP (minimum viable product). However, with regards to the Seedstars World competition, we only accept companies that already have
an MVP.

What have been the initial challenges and how did you overcome them?

There have been so many challenges and I believe that we have failed on a day-to-day in order to better understand how to grow and provide real value to our partners and startups. Maybe the biggest challenge we faced in the early days was convincing people about our crazy ambition to have an impact not in one country but 60. Then again, it did not scare us to try!

How do you think you are filling the gap between knowledge and investment?

We are working hard in building a platform that will become the go to place when it comes to anything related to investing, recruiting or expanding to emerging markets. Our mission is not only to support and accelerate the top startups and entrepreneurs in these regions but accompany and support the growth of these local ecosystems. On one hand we try to support the untapped talent and their potential but on the other side we are also trying to educate the investors on the opportunities of investing in technology startups and the impact they can have in their own regions.

What is the minimum qualification for someone to come and pitch for Seedstars World?

  •  Less than 2 years
  •  With an MVP
  • Less than $500k in capital investment
  •  Regional and/or global ambitions

If you were to list 5 essential qualities of a successful entrepreneur, what would they be?

  •  Passion, passion, passion
  •  It’s not about having a big ego but a big vision
  •  Surrounding yourself with a talented team. You can’t do it alone!
  •  Test. Fail. Learn. Change. Test. Fail. Learn. Get back up!
  •  Resilience! It’s all about the execution. No pain, no gain.

What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs of Bahrain?

“The biggest risk in life is not to take risks!”