A conversation with Frances Simowitz, founder of the start-up acceleration programme: WEVE

WEVE Acceleration is NYC’s premier acceleration program for international startups expanding into the United States. Formerly known as NUMA New York, WEVE has over twenty years of experience bringing the world’s most promising international startups to the US market.

Since opening our New York office in 2017, they have accelerated over 130 startups from 25 different countries (and counting!).

WEVE Acceleration (formerly NUMA New York) | LinkedIn

Tell us about your background and how you got into the startup scene?

I found an educational program called the Startup Institute, founded by the CEOs of TechStars Boston, that built on the same acceleration model. Instead of accelerating startups, they accelerated individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to work and make an impact in startup companies. This program changed my life and put me on the path I am on today.

It was clear that the Accelerator model was a fast track to unambiguous results through network and knowledge. After getting my first job at a start-up through their network, I later worked at this accelerator, selecting the cohort and helping run the program.

When did your paths cross with WEVE and why did you decide to join the law firm?

The opportunity at WEVE (formerly NUMA) was brought to me through a network connection. They were fairly established globally, headquartered in Paris and already operating in seven other markets around the world. They wanted to open an office in New York specifically to help startups expand globally to the US.

I fell in love with the mission and the company throughout the process and was excited at the opportunity to build an accelerator program from scratch, especially as I left an already existing and ongoing program when I joined. I made rapid progress within the company, after 6 months I was promoted to Program Director and 2 years ago I was promoted to Office CEO.

Why did the company decide to rebrand in the middle of a pandemic? Would you recommend this strategy to other founders and why or why not?

In July 2021, my business partner Giulia Imperatrice and I acquired NUMA’s US subsidiary. It’s very fortunate to finally own the thing you’ve been building for almost five years. As part of the acquisition, we were able to use the NUMA name for a year.

However, I believe a brand is built by how people interact with it, how they feel about working under a name with you and your team, and that’s why I didn’t hesitate to rebrand the company. I wanted us to be able to continue our work and continue to infuse the value we create into the new identity.

For us it was necessary, but I would not recommend it to any company unless it is necessary, especially in a pandemic. We have done a lot of work to communicate digitally with our customers, our network and our community, but it would have been nice to have had a formal launch event, which is not possible given the current circumstances.

Tell us more about WEVE’s start-up cohorts and the 2022 winter course – we’re particularly interested in learning more about Licel and its impact on the UK tech industry.

WEVE has run soft landing accelerator programs for high growth international startups for the past 5 years to help them access the US and we have accelerated over 150 startups from 27+ nations around the world . The Winter 2022 class is WEVE’s 12th cohort and consists of 5 notable international startups spanning industries such as RegTech, Cyber ​​Security, Last-Mile Delivery, Metaverse and Big Data. The cohort companies were carefully selected from a pool of over 300 applicants by the WEVE team and the judges of our selection committee.

One of the cohort companies is London-based Licel, a mobile app security platform that currently protects over 1,000 Android, iOS and Java apps in more than 70 countries. In the UK, Licel secured app payments for more than 2 million mobile banking customers in 2021 alone. In a zero-trust world of evolving threats, Licel makes everyday digital transactions safer for people.

What else is on the agenda for WEVE in 2022? Any overarching predictions or startup trends to share for this year?

We recently announced an official call for companies to financially support the start-up scene in Ukraine. Our goal is to amplify the voices of their entrepreneurs at the heart of the crisis, and we’re calling on co-founders to donate directly to resources with immediate effect, like this Ukraine Defense Fund.

Our current cohort includes Vanongo, an AI-based last-mile platform based in Kyiv. Vanongo founder Viacheslav Levchenko asked that donations in support of the Ukrainian people be sent to a fund recommended by iHUB, a Kyiv-based tech incubator we have previously worked with. A conversation with Frances Simowitz, founder of the start-up acceleration programme: WEVE

Fry Electronics Team

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