Immersion Trip in the USA for the Startups from Rubik Garage, Scale to USA Edition

Immersion Trip in the USA for the Startups from Rubik Garage, Scale to USA Edition

March 10, 2024

Our Rubik Garage Accelerator, Scale to USA Edition, reached its final stage, the one that was most awaited – the immersion trip in the USA. After over three months of intensive workshops, many 1:1 meetings, meet-the-investors sessions, and mentoring sessions, a part of the 21 startups in the cohort participated in a two-week trip in the States, where they had the chance to connect with important players from the startup ecosystem, get tailored feedback, and meet potential partners.

We organized three pitch eventsone in San Francisco, one in Palo Alto, and one in Austin. Read this article to see the highlights of our journey and who won the big investment prize of 500,000 from Fortech Investments, our main strategic partner of the program.

First Pitch Event in San Francisco

We had the first Demo Day in San Francisco, on February 27, at the Highwire PR headquarters. Ruxandra Muys-Stoian (WIT Angels Club), Char Kwon (The Hustle Fund), and Miro Tenkl (Telegraph Hill Advisors, CEE Tech House) joined us as jurors.

The winners of the day were:

  • Best Pitch chosen by the jury – Virbe, the solution for optimized customer experience for retail customers through virtual beings
  • Audience AwardVaunt, the platform that simplifies the process of buying and selling international properties

San Francisco & Silicon Valley Highlights

Our days in San Francisco and Silicon Valley were filled with so many incredible experiences and valuable connections.

  • We delved into innovation and technology at EIT Digital, thanks to Pui San Tam and Orestis Trasanidis.
  • We gained invaluable insights into sales during a workshop with Christopher Dailey.
  • We had the pleasure of meeting Sean Randolph, Senior Director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.
  • Our visit to the prestigious Salesforce was unforgettable.
  • We were inspired by the vibrant community of SHACK15.
  • We were honored with an official reception at the Honorary Consulate of Romania in San Francisco, where we had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Dana Beldiman Honorary Consul General for Romania in San Francisco. Special thanks to George Roth for facilitating our visit and for his support!
  • Some of the startups had the privilege of touring Meta.
  • At Plug and Play, Elina Gorji, Senior Program Manager, warmly welcomed us and facilitated an engaging introduction. We also had an AMA session with their Partner, Ivan Zgomba, and gained invaluable insights on reaching out to US investors.
  • We started the last day in San Francisco with a meeting powered by Jason Yeh (founder of Adamant), who curated a gathering of investors and founders at the AngelList Headquarters as part of his Dawn Patrol series. This event provided an invaluable opportunity to network with San Francisco’s investment community and glean insights from local entrepreneurs.
  • We went to Stanford University, where our startups had yet another opportunity to showcase their potential. This time, the pitches took center stage in front of Benjamin Rolnik, the Director of Stanford’s Healthcare Innovation Lab. Our gratitude extends to Benjamin for facilitating this meeting and for extending invitations to two prominent venture capitalists.
  • We strolled down University Avenue in Palo Alto, the place where innovation thrives and the most iconic startups call home. Along the way, we caught glimpses of the former Google office, the headquarters of Amazon, as well as the venture capital firms, Accel and 500 Global.
  • The pinnacle of excitement awaited us at the Apple Store, where we had the exhilarating opportunity to experience firsthand their latest innovation—the Apple Vision Pro, launched just one month ago.

Second Pitch Event in Palo Alto

During our visit to Plug and Play, we left such a favorable impression that Clara de Ros, their Venture Associate, joined our second pitch event as a juror, alongside Asror Arabjanov from Silkroad Innovation Hub, and John Huang, investor at Open Future Angels.

The event took place on February 29, at Silkroad Innovation Hub, and once again exceeded expectations. It was heartwarming to witness the pitches improving with each occasion. This served as a testament to the value of the feedback received during these months of acceleration, as well as during our time here in the USA.

The winners of the day were:

  • Best Startup chosen by the jury – Readmio, a digital platform revolutionizing children’s learning using voice recognition
  • Audience AwardsBEESERS, the app that provides access to the full medical journey from home, & Sessions, the communication and collaboration application for more efficient online meetings, consolidating all necessary functionalities in one place.

Our Experience in Austin, Texas

In Austin, we were surprised by the unique dynamics of the startup ecosystem here compared to Silicon Valley and San Francisco. 

  • We started with a visit to Plug and Play Tech Center Austin, where Scott Smith insights into Cedar Park’s urban development and the dynamic collaboration between the public and private sectors fostering innovation. Ehab Gabr and Harvey Williams shed light on Plug and Play’s investment ethos.
  • We had a fireside chat on investment, featuring Sarah Morgan from S3 Ventures, and David Valentino, the General Manager of the Austin Venture Association, who deep-dived into the investment climate here.
  • We immersed ourselves in the art of storytelling at Studio Black Ops, where we had a masterclass that left us equipped with powerful narrative-crafting tools to enhance our impact in the ever-evolving landscape of innovation.
  • We explored the inner workings of a local business as the CBI Group graciously opened its doors for us.
  • Our founders once again showcased their solution and received valuable feedback, this time at the headquarters of the International Accelerator.
  • We joined a cocktail reception at the Austin Technology Council, an event that kicked off the fun that is SXSW.

Last Pitch Event in Austin and the Winner of the Big Investment Prize

We had the last Demo Day in Austin, at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, where the big winner of this cohort was announced. Initially, Fortech Investments, the main strategic partner of this program, committed to investing $100,000 in the most promising startup from this cohort. However, after careful consideration, they raised the sum to €500,000.

And the undeniable champion of this cohort was Rayscape, the MedTech startup that acts as a complex digital assistant for radiologists, helping them analyze medical images through artificial intelligence. Stefan Iarca and his visionary team are challenging the status quo within the medical field, positively impacting the lives of millions of people.

Here’s what Valentin Filip, the Managing Partner of Fortech Investments, says:

“Although we initially decided to invest a smaller ticket in the current round of Rayscape we are now investing 500.000 euros due to the many great signals that we got from them. First of all, we focus a lot on healthcare startups and we believe in the power of synergy and creating multiple opportunities for Rayscape, as well as other star-ups in our portfolio, from similar verticals. We know the industry and we are impressed with the amount of value that Rayscape creates both for patients and, most importantly, for radiologists, a sector that needs more human capital. The accuracy and results of their solution are unquestionable.

The team, of course, played an important role in our decision, and Rayscape has brought together all the people with the right expertise and background. Ștefan impressed us even from day one and we knew we were making the right bet. Their current achievements are impressive, and the multitude of markets they entered proves the potential of their solution. 

The Rubik Garage Accelerator is exactly what a startup like Rayscape needs to enter the US market successfully. They have the right connections and intros and we learned this after a long collaboration with them. We’ve been working together for quite a while now and they have always provided us with good, quality leads and mature startups that were a great fit for us. We hope that we’ll be able to keep supporting them because they have definitely helped us a lot.”

Additionally, BEESERS once again captivated the public and clinched the Audience Award. And Readmio garnered recognition from their peers, securing the Cohort Award.

We want to congratulate all the ambitious startups from this cohort who joined us in this US adventure: ReadmioSessionsVAUNTiflowsKotysRayscapeNifty LearningCodeWellVirbeBEESERSAtfieldSoft EdgeAIDE, and FoodFix.