We called it Proxible, Spindox’s platform connecting businesses and investors to the startups of 1871, USA’s biggest incubator. We developed a new methodology to select the most effective innovation in three fields: AI, Industry 4.0, and Virtual and Augmented Reality.

With the launch of Proxible, Spindox’s efforts in the US take a step further. The goal is simple: become the smart bridge connecting American innovation with European companies. Since last year, we have been working from within 1871 -the great incubator, “entrepreneurial hub” and “cluster of innovation” in Chicago- with Leonardo Zubalich, our coordinator for American operations. For all of 2019 we explored the great ecosystem of bubbling ideas orbiting around 1871: not only digital startups, but also research centers, universities, SME, big corporations, and USA branches of some of our biggest clients.
A pivotal role in this operation was played by the Italian American Chamber of Commerce Chicago Midwest.

Finding the startups that work

As we already know, the road to innovation is paved with good startups. Nevertheless, only a bunch of them manage to survive and scale up. It is how the natural selection of business is supposed to work, as this is how the whole environment is able to stay healthy and thrive. We also know how difficult it is to define how good a startup is. It is roughly estimated that every year 5 million startups are funded worldwide and that the 90% of them fail soon afterward: more than 120k startups a day.

The aim of Proxible is quite ambitious: help to detect as early as possible those that will work out.
In the end, not just a bridge between Chicago and the Old Continent, or a nice window for the most innovative startups of 1871. Our work defines a series of objective and quantitative criteria to identify what is remarkable innovation for Spindox.

AI, AR/VR, and IoT

First of all, we have decided to focus on three of the most attractive tech trends: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. At a first glance it may seem like an easy pick, as these are the fields in which most investments are concentrated, both in the USA and in the rest of the world. Actually, we chose them based on the business affinity between the startups’ business proposals and Spindox’s competences, with the hope to find common points of integration and mutual growth.

This is why, among the 300 and counting new companies we have investigated, we especially took an interest on those that present a business model most compatible with the one of a digital company like Spindox. In some cases, we are acting as a liaison between the startups and the executive management of our company, or with our clients.

Evaluation framework

To try and identify the most promising startups, at Proxible we have built a KPI-based framework aimed at rationalizing the qualitative aspects of the business: the Customer Value Proposition (CVP, that is the capability of generating value for the prospective client through a distinctive proposal), the Revenue Factor (RF, that is the capability of generating a revenue stream consistent with the proposed business plan), and the Key Factor (KF, that is the value of the people).

On our portal you will find the technical report for each company profiled, with the corresponding KPI score. The charts serve to help define at what stage of Porter’s Value Chain the startups lay and in which field they may reach their maximum added value. Moreover, the combined score of CVP, RF, and KF allows to divide the startups in four tiers, describing their level of maturity: “Explorer”, “Grower”, “Driver”, and “Star”.

From KPI to the backstage of businesses

More in details, we present the criteria adopted for our methodology. To award a CVP score, we analyze their value proposition and the needs they aim to address: the closer the startup gets to the so-called “white space”, the better are the odds of success. The RF score is important to evaluate their financial performance and determine whether their revenue stream is consistent with the business plan. Lastly, the KF score refers to the single members of the team: it investigates skills and competences of the startup’s members.

To evaluate the Key factors of a startups only from their corporate communication (website, white papers, social media…) it is not always feasible, and that is why we go there in person, to interview and get to know in depth the people behind the business. And to build future business relations, too.

All in all, Proxible is not just a repository for companies’ technical reports. In time, the website will grow to include more and more diverse contents: video, podcasts, and articles to bring to our audience the stories and the faces of who, in 1871, innovate. For real.