October saw the Arctic 15 Pitching Competition move online this year. The competition carried out in cooperation with the NewCo Helsinki Accelerator, attracted a great deal of interest when more than 150 start-ups from the Nordic and Baltic countries applied, eyeing up early-stage investment.
Throughout the competition finalist were considered and screened by all attending angel investors with a view of finding a match so they can lead in building a syndicate to invest through Arctic15 immediately.
Coming out top of the pack was Estonian start-up BidrentoPro which was founded in 2019 by wife and husband team Natalja Napsep, (COO), Taavo Annus (CEO) and CTO Umar Zarip. Together they have created a platform for managing rental properties for the SME market.
BidrentPro is an automated time saving and cost effective software solution for landlords and property managers by consolidating all processes in the rental property market. The platform claims to save rental companies at least 30% on accounting costs and at least 5 hours a week.
Napsep took us through her experience of the competition during Covid times where all interactions are now done virtually, but that was not the first thing about the process which she found challenged her.
“It was the most detailed application that I have ever filled out,” says Napsep. “There were a lot of questions which actually made me have a good think about things. Some of the things I thought through we are still using now so it was actually useful in some way just to apply to it.”
After the application process entries are reduced to 30 start-ups who are up for a public vote to find the final 15 who pitch live in front to a panel of European investors and experts.
“It was our first time pitching online,” she explains. “Before we have been used to pitching on a stage, but this was done via Zoom and I was very nervous about the technology,” she says. “If you’re on the stage, then you can be emotional or present more expressively but if you’re sitting in front of your computer, it’s very strange to be very expressive because the only thing that is looking at you is your computer.”
“I had to practice a lot before I felt very comfortable but, in the end, it was okay,” she continues. “Actually, after my pitch and the Q&A session ended my internet connection was lost – it was so close, just a few seconds after they finished with me.”
It must have been fate that made that connection hold as BidrentoPro were crowned winners, “when we heard our start-up name, we were shocked, and even some tears came as it was really unexpected,” securing them ‘smart money’ investment as they not only gained monetary investment but their discussions with investors has slightly changed the direction of their next market move.
“During the whole process I had discussions with a few lead investors from Arctic 15 and exchanged some financial information as well as talking about the markets,” she says. “When we applied to this pitching competition, the Finnish market was our first priority ‘other’ market but at the end of this whole pitching contest, we actually decided that we will currently not expand to Finland, but concentrate on the Central European countries.”
“The funding process is currently still in progress and we expect to finalise it in the coming months,” she adds.