Registration open for StepFWD Together – accelerator for advanced early stage startups

StepFWD Together kicks off the applications for a new cohort of 20 startups from the CEE region seeking to accelerate their growth. The fifth edition, spanning over 7 months, brings changes to the program’s structure and targets diverse teams that already have a product and initial users/customers and aim to rapidly develop their startups. Participation in the program is free of charge and equity-free, and the application deadline is October 8, 2023. More details about the application process, program, and mentors can be found on

StepFWD Together is a program developed by StepFWD in partnership with Startup Norway, through a grant from Innovation Norway, with the support of Bitdefender and Google for Startups.

Who is it for?

StepFWD Together is looking for 20 early-stage technology startups formed by diverse teams, already having a product and initial users/customers, seeking opportunities for rapid growth, learning, and/or investment, and willing to dedicate the next half-year to accelerate their processes and develop their products. The 20 startups will be selected by the project team and mentors based on their application and interview with the team, taking into account the founders’ experience and collaboration history, the added value the business brings to its industry, product traction, market size, as well as the diversity of the team.

StepFWD Together aims to contribute to the development of the startup ecosystem in Romania by promoting diversity in team composition and the benefits that diversity, inclusion, and balance bring when used to generate innovative ideas and different perspectives.

“StepFWD Together is a natural continuation of our work in recent years. We are now looking for those 20 technology startups that show a marker of diversity in their teams and are in search of an accelerator to help them grow rapidly. The experience of past editions has helped us prepare a program that we are confident will truly assist them. Additionally, this year we have partnered with Startup Norway who bring expertise from a more developed ecosystem and will help us access larger markets and investors from the Scandinavian region. We also have local mentors with extensive experience, excellent connections, and great determination to support them,” said Liviu Cadariu, Program Director of StepFWD Together.

How does the program work?

StepFWD Together spans over 7 months, from October 2023 to April 2024, and provides excellent opportunities for rapid growth to those technology startups aiming to accelerate their development. The selected startups will benefit from constant support, both general and personalized mentorship sessions provided by professionals and experienced entrepreneurs in the field, access to numerous resources, local and international investors, and other funding opportunities, dedicated and practical workshops, networking events, and access to a dynamic community and a wide network of program supporters.

The program is structured in two parts: in the first phase – “Learn and connect,” which will take place during the first two months, the 20 startups will participate in workshops structured around four important pillars for advanced early-stage startups: team building, product management, growth, smart founding, and pitching. Additionally, the 20 startups will connect with investors and industry experts and prepare for Demo Day. Demo Day will be an offline event held in mid-December, where the 20 teams will present their businesses and progress, with over 200 investors, journalists, and members of the startup ecosystem attending.

In the second stage, the 6 most promising startups out of the initial 20 in the program, that have demonstrated the highest growth potential, will be selected. In the “Grow” phase, taking place from January to April 2024, the program’s content will be tailored to the needs of each of the 6 remaining teams. Each startup will be assigned a dedicated mentorship team comprising entrepreneurs who have demonstrated their abilities to help teams grow rapidly, industry experts, and a member of the StepFWD Together team.

“The program connected us with people who are well seasoned in the startup environment and could guide us with advice, on the level that we were at that particular moment. The StepFWD program exceeded my expectations. It was like a snowball rolling down the hill, just getting bigger and bigger,” stated Cristina Oprea, COO, LopiAI, a participant in the program.

Teams interested in the program are encouraged to learn more about the accelerator on and apply online by October 8, 2023. Participation in the program is free, and teams are not required to give up equity.

Acceleratoradvanced early stage startupsapplicationsBitdefenderGoogle for Startupsinnovation norwayregistrationStartup NorwayStepFWD Together
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