If ever you have met me, you know that I’m not a huge advocate of European startups going to the US from day one. Beyond the VISA issue, the complete lack of a cohesive network, and the cultural/language barriers, I think that your home country, however big or small,, is, at the very least, a great beta-testing market, and to really be lean, you should keep costs (like international flights & VISA applications) to a minimum. That being said, I have nothing wrong with European startups taking the US by storm, given the right equipment.
Blackbox Connect – the Right Equipment
I had the opportunity to check out Fadi Bishara, the head of Blackbox, earlier this year, after discovering his accelerator program and Blackbox Connect. Self-described as a “Silicon Valley Immersion Program,” I had heard this talk before, and so made a point to meet up with Fadi at their Atherton mansion headquarters last time I was in California. To say the least, Fadi is the real deal. While plenty of people have offered tech tours and road trips through SV tourist attractions, Fadi seems to get what European Founders really need – introductions, introductions, introductions. Year round, Blackbox is the host of an accelerator program meant for startups who have had success in their home markets, and are looking to take off in the US. Blackbox Connect is the abbreviated version. The first edition of Blackbox Connect featured French entrepreneur Ismael Nzouetom of I-Dispo.com, who “fully recommends it” according to twitter.
Applications are due December 20th, and while the accelerator isn’t free, I can tell you that every founder I met during my visit seemed happy with their decision. The mansion feels like a startup frat house, with packs of dogs running around the pools, post-its lining every room, and food perpetually cooking in the kitchen. Applications are $100, the program is $6,495/founder, or $9,495 per company (2 founders).
Fadi’s been a part of the startup network since dial-up, and, most importantly, the first question he asks you when you meet him is “What can I do for you?” So, what can Fadi do for you?