Startup Victoria‘s first Lean Startup meeting of the year heralded the launch of AngelCube‘s 2015 accelerator program (#AC15), for which applications are now open. A good opportunity to check in with previous successful applicants, and find out if your startup is made of the right stuff.
The info evening was hosted by inspire9, and supported by PwC, and Nathan from AngelCube kicked off proceedings by giving a run down on the accelerator program, the application process, and the type of startups that are more likely to be accepted.
What does the program offer?
- A 3-month intensive learning and development experience
- $20k in funding (in return for 10% of the business)
- Co-working facilities
- Working with Lean methodology (focus on Product-Market fit)
- Access to great mentors and advisers, and early-stage investors
- Participation in a fundraising roadshow (including time in the US)
There is an application form via AngelList, and the closing date is May 10 (but the sooner you can submit the better). From the hundreds of applications, AngelCube puts together a shortlist of 20, of which no more than 10 will likely be accepted.
What is AngelCube looking for?
- Globally scalable tech startups (think beyond Australia!)
- In-house tech skills/resources (it’s not really a matching service)
- Great teams (more than the ideas themselves)
- Customer traction (ideally revenue-generating)
- Consumer-oriented solutions (rather than B2B)
What has the experience been like for successful graduates?
Three alumni of previous AngelCube programs offered some personal insights, and then participated in a Q&A with the audience of 400:
First up was Peter from Ediply, a service that matches students to the course or university of their choice. Given the growth in education and lifelong learning, and the increasing numbers of students (especially from Asia) looking to study overseas, the business seemed like a natural fit for AngelCube. However, it was still a relatively new or unknown sector in terms of end-user or independent services (rather than in-house marketing and enrollment efforts) – which sort of broke one of AngelCube’s rules for acceptance: no established market. Peter stressed that the main reasons for applying were the need to overcome some development barriers, and to get out of a “Melbourne mindset”.
Ash from Tablo (“YouTube for books”) probably broke another AngelCube rule, in that he was a sole applicant (not part of a team) and he had limited tech resources. AngelCube made him work harder, think big, and keep going – and helped him to become a disruptive force in publishing, with customers in 130 countries collectively publishing 1 million words a day. He’s also closed a C-round of funding, and has some impressive investors on his share register.
Lastly, David from etaskr (“a private label elance”) had to quit a full-time job with one week’s notice once he got accepted into AngelCube. He even had to Google how to pitch. Plus he came into the program with a totally different idea, got slammed, failed to get customer traction, and ended up pivoting to an enterprise software solution (and broke another AngelCube rule in the process – no B2B, because of the longer sales cycle). Despite having to live on very little money for 6 months (less than $200 pw) the team persevered, and are now starting to get traction, including overseas markets like Holland. His final words were “risk is not something to fear, but to overcome”.
Q&A with the audience
Most of the questions were about the application process for AngelCube, and how it helped the successful startups, particularly with going global. In large part, this due to some great networks, access to high-profile connections (“we got to meet the first employees at Yammer!”) and links to some influential investors. There was also some discussion about how to secure your first customers (mainly via social marketing techniques), and the challenge of enterprise sales (“it sucks, because you need 100 different minds to all say ‘Yes!'”).
Next week: Help! I need to get some perspective…