From Pioneers Festival to Y Combinator – Babywatch Leads the Way

By December 17, 2013No Comments

Croatian startup and Pioneers Challenge winner Babywatch will join Airbnb and Dropbox in Paul Graham’s Y Combinator alumni network – all thanks to a Pioneers Festival connection.

Y Combinator has funded over 500 startups including the likes of Reddit, Dropbox, Heroku, Airbnb, Stripe, Codecademy, Thalmic Labs and Airware just to name just a few.

Babywatch will now move to Silicon Valley, receive funding, but most importantly be part of the accelerator’s vast network of some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs out there (billion dollar startups, founders and investors) who will mentor, connect and when ready, fund the young European startup.

Why YC wanted Babywatch

YC loves demos and prototypes (“a Version 1” as they call it) and that is precisely what Babywatch has: a system of hardware device and a mobile app that works and sells. Also there is a clear trend towards hardware and quantified-self devices.

Babywatch will sit "at the dead center of Silicon Valley, on a street called Pioneer Way. Outside, the traffic hums along CA-z85 headed either south to Cupertino or north toward Google headquarters." But how did Babywatch get there?

Pioneers Festival: Giving a stage to startups that matter

Babywatch is a young digital health startup from Croatia founded in 2012 that offers a system connecting a home ultrasound device with a smartphone that enables pregnant women to hear, visualize and share their unborn baby’s heartbeat. Babywatch makes tracking pregnancy easier, more relaxing and more interactive. In January they will launch their new product, on CBS in L.A., a smart-monitoring device for newborn babies.

"We are really happy we got into the Pioneers Challenge in the first place. We applied last minute – we were in Berlin at the time and were really busy building our product, but we lacked exposure and publicity. At the very last minute I knew that we had to apply, we had to try. So we did and when we got into the Top 50 we were already really ecstatic – that was a big success for us,” Urska said today.

Sandro added, “We knew that this year TC Disrupt and Dublin Web Summit took place at the same time, but we believed Pioneers is the perfect [startup] challenge because of the community behind it. We also had a call with TC Disrupt, but we picked Pioneers.”

Pioneers Connects – building bridges from Europe out into the world

During the final pitch in Vienna Michael Seibel, one of the judges and YC part-time partner couldn’t hide his “admiration” for Babywatch.

“Michael showed us huge support and urged us to apply [to YC],” Urska says. “He really helped us, applications were actually already closed at that time.”

What started on stage in Vienna went on with first rumours at the #Pioneers13 after-party and ended with two plane tickets to Silicon Valley to meet Paul Graham and his YC team.

"It’s a big deal joining YC, especially coming from Europe. Sandro is the first Croatian and I’m the first Slovenian woman entering Y Combinator – it’s super exciting," Urska tells us. “We met most of them already at the first YC-breakfast during our trip to the Valley. And the biggest feeling you get is that everyone wants to help – everyone is so supportive.”

At the end of our conversation, I asked Urska and Sandro to give one word of advice to European startups. They both immediately agreed: The biggest problem with European startups she says is “they are too modest.” “Try, apply and don’t hold back. Take every chance you get!”

Babywatch continues to gain momentum and the journey has just begun.