Meet the First Foundry Cohort: Introducing Ship Shape
Powered by FinTech Wales, the Foundry is a unique, not for profit accelerator programme designed to scale the next generation of digital ventures in Wales. In the first of a series of interviews chronicling the founders in the first cohort we speak with Daniel Sawko, co-founder of VC ecosystem mappers Ship Shape.
What is Ship Shape?
It’s a way of finding needles (VC investors interested in your business) in haystacks. We think what3words are doing in navigation needs to be replicated in the VC industry!
What is your team’s background?
We started in the middle of the pandemic, so we have a dispersed team at the moment. We have two working in Cardiff, a team member in Singapore, Edinburgh, one in England all the time, and I split my time between England and Wales! We’ve got representation from Eastern Europe, the heart of Wales, Australia and the UAE.
In terms of talent, the pandemic offered a chance to open our hiring pool on a national scale, opening the doors to wider opportunities that otherwise would typically be geographically limited. In terms of age, we have a good balance of youth and experience, which helps us blend knowledge and creativity.
What is the opportunity you’ve spotted and/or the problem you are trying to solve?
Trying to find the right VC investor for a start-up is like having no phone or maps when trying to find your apartment on holiday in a beautiful Mediterranean city.
Today’s tools just aren’t built to answer this problem!
Ship Shape was selected from over 150 applicants to join the FinTech Wales Foundry. What are your expectations for an accelerator programme?
We’re incredibly proud and excited to be selected for the Foundry.
We’re looking forward to learning from the fantastic pool of mentors and experts that the Fintech Wales team have pulled together. We’re expecting to accelerate in a number of key ways that strengthen the pillars of our business;
– Closing our round
– Making sure our tech stack can cope with the next 10k and then 100k users!
– Getting some crucial legal documents like subscription agreements in order
– Building connections with the Welsh and wider ecosystem in the UK
Compared to your initial plans, how different is Ship Shape today?
We’ve changed a lot – we’re using different technology (based on some excellent learning in the early days), we aren’t in an office and haven’t needed to be (we are excited to put down some roots at the Cardiff Business Technology Centre). We’re collaborating with some brilliant and supportive academics across several Welsh Universities.
I think we are also more progressed in ways that I didn’t expect, e.g. how powerful the platform can be!
What made Wales an attractive destination to scale your efforts for the summer?
There’s a fantastic ecosystem growing here. There’s talent and excellent support from organisations like Fintech Wales, Universities like Cardiff, UWTSD, and Swansea. I don’t have enough digits to count the number of supportive people we have come across that have helped us on our journey.
The reason to come and scale in Wales is that you are surrounded by people who will go the extra mile to see you succeed!
What will your next birthday look like?
We’re excited about what the next 12 months will bring, and ultimately, we want to make sure that more brilliant ideas make it. So If we can do that in the next 12 months, we’ll be happy!
We hope to take off in the UK and start our own US adventure and are incredibly excited about the advances being made at Ship Shape that we know customers are crying out for.
What should more founders know?
Be comfortable with saying no – whether to additional commitments, investors, or the few ecosystem players that engage on bad terms or poor attitude! And that there’s almost always help available in places you wouldn’t expect to find it. So if you’re in a bind, really take a step back and look at every possible option.
Find Out More
You can find out more about Ship Shape by visiting their website and social links here.