A few people asked to share my experience with the Antler program and I’ve decided to write up a little review.
I was in the third cohort of Antler Amsterdam in 2020-2021 and went through the program, received the investment and made it to the demo day.
What is Antler and Who is it for?
Antler is a global early-stage VC enabling and investing in the world’s most exceptional people building the defining companies of tomorrow.
Basically, what they do is take a bunch of smart people with business and tech backgrounds, mix them together and see what kind of ideas for new companies they can come up with. The best teams and ideas get an investment from Antler.
Getting into the Program
You apply online and a recruiter will schedule a call with you and ask some general questions about your previous experience and answer your questions about the Antler program. My feeling is that people who started a company in the past, worked for a startup, or have an entrepreneurial background will get some bonus points on their application.
Then you get on another call with a partner or director-level person. Here it gets more interesting and they ask you to think about a certain business case. For example, I was asked to imagine I had to launch an Uber-like company in a new city: how I do that, what my marketing initiatives would be, etc. There are no right or wrong answers here, they just want to see your way of thinking.
Overall, the interviews were friendly and stress-free.
If you pass the interviews you will be asked to complete an aptitude test, either the CCAT or the UCAT. If you have been assigned with the CCAT, you will receive 50 questions while the UCAT has 40 questions. The CCAT takes 15 minutes while the UCAT takes 20 minutes. The goal is to answer as many questions as you can get to within the allocated time-frame. These tests assess verbal, spatial reasoning, math & logic and attention to detail. I got the CCAT but Antler never told me the result so I assumed I had passed it.
I have moved to the Netherlands from South America and Antler helped with a 1 year entrepreneur visa for me and my family. It was a pretty simple process and only a few documents were required. But as I know only Singapore and the Netherlands have special visa programs for entrepreneurs and Antler can’t help you out in other locations.
I am actually renewing my Dutch residence permit right now for another 2 years and the process again is hassle-free.
You can divide the program into a few blocks:
- Pre-program: you get access to the Antler Founder hub. It’s a library of videos and materials on various topics from finding a co-founder to building a company.
- Phase 1 (11 weeks):
- first 2 weeks to meet other founders
- the next 9 weeks to ideate and validate
- Investment Committee
- Phase 2 (3 months) to build your product
- Demo Day
The Program: Phase 1
The purpose of Phase 1 is to help you find a team and equip you with the skills and knowledge to build a paradigm-changing startup. It lasts 11 weeks. The first two weeks are pretty intense. There are various sessions on team formation, product ideation, business models. Along with workshops and team building activities, there are speakers and dedicated coaching sessions. You need to meet and talk to all 50-70 founders, find out what values and ideas they have.
Starting in week 3, a substantial amount of your interactions with Antler will be 1:1 or 2:1, combined with group sessions and seminars. The goal is to help you build your startup and receive investment from the Investment Committee. You will be teaming up with different people, doing market research, validating ideas and maybe even building prototypes and acquiring first customers.
You will have three pre-investment committee sessions. For them you need to have an idea approved by Antler and a team. And ideally even more than that (show market demand, have a prototype, etc). Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to present to the investment committee. In our cohort only around 15 people (who formed 7 teams) were given the green light. For the rest the program was over.
The Investment Committee
So, if you’re going to the IC, this is how it’s going to look like. You will have around 10 minutes to present your idea and 10 minutes to answer questions of the IC board which consists of 2 local Antler partners, 2 global Antler partners, and 2 external experts (usually people from other VC firms). There could be some other parties on the call as well. You need to get 4 “yes” votes out of 6 to pass. We’ve got 6 out of 6.
Overall, 5 teams were offered an investment. 4 teams have taken it and one team decided to pass on for personal matters.
If the Investment Committee selects your idea, Antler will invest €100,000 for a 12% equity stake in your company.
But you will pay €45,000 (+21% VAT) to cover the program fees. So you will get €45,550 transferred to your company’s bank account. You can also get the VAT (€10,041) from the tax authorities back in a month or two.
The Program: Phase 2
The second phase of the program focuses on building and launching your venture. You will be free to reach your MVP however you see fit, with support from the Antler global advisory network.
You still get on a group call once a week to discuss the progress. But you’re basically on your own with your co-founder(s) and decide yourself what’s best for your company.
The program culminates with demo day, and is a chance to pitch your idea to investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
Before the pandemic, teams would present at a live session with investors in the room - but during Covid, the presentation is pre-recorded and shown on Youtube.
After demo day, we received around 20 emails from investors interested in our company - we’re still currently in the talks with them.
After the Program
After demo day Antler still supports you with your fundraising process and uses its large network of connections in the VC world. You also get on a weekly call with your dedicated coach who assists you in any way possible.
Apart from that you can access the global Antler Slack group with more than one thousand founders and mentors and a huge database of perks and discounts to products, services and co-working office spaces across the globe.
I would definitely recommend Antler if you face one of the following problems:
- You need to find a co-founder
- You don’t have a clear idea, you want to quickly validate your idea or you don’t have idea at all but want to start a company
- You have launched an MVP but you’re pre-revenue and need advice
- You’re looking for a community of like-minded people
- You’re looking for a pre-seed round of funding
Then Antler might be a good fit for you. Overall, it’s a lot of fun, learnings and making new friends.
It’s probably not for you if you’re far in the game and have a founding team and some revenue from your product.
If you are still reading and curious about what I’m building, it’s a pet healthcare platform with personal vet and honest pet insurance in your pocket called Cooper Pet Care. And if you read Dutch and know what hondenverzekering and kattenverzekering are then definitely check us out.