3 types of accelerator your start-up needs now

The 3 types of accelerator your start-up needs now

Successful start-ups need three main things: a fantastic, commercialisable idea; investment; and a lot of luck. The first you may already have, the third we sincerely wish you, but it’s the middle one that is arguably the most important.

Speaking at CeBIT Australia 2018, Michelle Chee, Program Manager and Mentor, Cicada Innovations, Bradley Delamare, Chief Executive Officer, Tank Stream Labs, Craig Lambert, Founder, Slingshot, and Melissa Pye, Head of Storytelling, muru-D, shared their thoughts on the help available to start-ups to help them succeed.

Essentially, start-ups could benefit from three main offerings:

  • Coworking spaces
  • Accelerators
  • Incubators

1. Coworking spaces

In 2005, there were 70 of those hubs globally. Today, there are over 14,000. Even in a relatively small market like Australia, there are now over 300 of them, with the majority located in and around Sydney.

Essentially, coworking spaces like Tank Stream Labs are business areas shared by a number of different companies. Bradley Delamare says they have become so popular because workplaces are undergoing significant change, driven by a demand for efficiency and the desire to develop a culture of innovation in order to attract and retain talent. Businesses are looking to inspire employees with more activity-based working spaces.

Add to that the rise of remote working and the gig economy and it’s easy to see the attraction for established companies.

For start-ups, though, the benefits are even clearer. By working in a multi-industry community (which is the essence of coworking hubs), you can collaborate and network, share ideas and even forge instant partnerships to help those ideas foster and grow.

Plus, coworking spaces have the sort of deep connections – to universities, corporates, governments, international and domestic partnerships, and investors – that start-ups traditionally don’t have and don’t know how to find and cultivate.

Delamare says there are a number of key questions start-up founders should ask themselves to determine if a potential coworking space is the right fit:

  • Does it suit the industry of your start-up?
  • Does it suit the stage of your start-up?
  • Is it in the right location?
  • Is it the right layout (private offices vs. open plan)?
  • What type of companies do you want to work around?
  • Can you learn from others in the space?
  • Are there competitors in the space?

Delamare also offers up some encouraging statistics from a 2017 survey of people in coworking spaces:

  • 91% gained business insights.
  • 80% achieved business growth.
  • 74% found it improved their product.
  • 70% felt physically healthier thanks to the experience.

2. Accelerators

What is an accelerator? It’s a business that helps start-ups grow by providing things like seed investment, connections and mentorship. As the name suggests, the ultimate goal is to accelerate growth.

Melissa Pye says muru-D (an accelerator backed by Telstra and operating in Australia and Asia) exists to “support big thinking founders who use technology to solve challenging global problems”.

muru-D builds its program around the needs of its start-up founders, teaching them the hard skills (like IP, marketing, business models, legal/corporate governance, accounting, tech) and soft skills (communication, people management and even personal wellbeing) required to succeed.

For its part, Telstra provides the support to build a technology future to foster innovation and entrepreneurism, support the whole start-up ecosystem and provide inspiration and insight.

That corporate-start-up collaborative approach is also at the heart of Slingshot’s business model.  “We exist to connect corporates with start-ups,” says Craig Lambert. Why? Because each has something the other wants.

Start-ups bring spark, ideas, resilience and agility. Corporates bring the resources start-ups need to become established. It opens up a mutually beneficial partnership whereby start-ups can actually embed themselves in corporates for a period (generally 12 weeks), during which they develop their idea to the advantage of both parties.

Not only has this partnership approach worked in the past, it is growing exponentially. According to Boston Consulting Group, “The use of accelerators and incubators has increased from 2% to 44% among the 30 largest companies in the seven industries and from 4% to 66% among the ten largest.”

3. Incubators

Where accelerators enable and speed up start-up growth, incubators help start-ups develop. Michelle Chee says Cicada Innovations (which has been called “Australia’s only super incubator”) breaks the development into three stages: create, validate and incubate.

Support for start-ups can include post-program funding, cash investment in return for equity, bespoke mentoring and services, and, perhaps most importantly, access to talent, equipment and alumni. Because Cicada is funded by four equal university partners, PhD talent can be placed in start-ups for free – a fantastic way to share knowledge and resources.

Regardless of whether you choose a coworking space, an accelerator or an incubator to help your start-up succeed, it’s good to know that there are options available to turn your vision into a commercial – and, for you, hopefully a lucrative – reality.

If you’ve been inspired to start a start-up but would like to get some more tips, our How to launch a start-up e-book can help. Download it today.

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