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Slingshot’s Trent Bagnall, Artesian’s Stuart Fox and NRMA’s Deborah-Ann Allen and Michael Pastega launched Jumpstart at Brisbane's River City Labs last Thursday. Photo courtesy of Peta Ellis.

Jumpstart launch offers a new kind of accelerator

As we’ve talked about before, it can be difficult to choose an appropriate startup accelerator. The newest Australian program, Slingshot and NRMA’s Jumpstart, adds another element to our discussion: a customer. Or, more accurately, 2.4 million customers, courtesy of NRMA.

“What we’re looking for is to build great companies that NRMA might have a use for, but it’s not only about building products for NRMA,” says Slingshot founder Craig Lambert. “NRMA are there as the customer.”

“Lots of startups that come through in Australia have a great product and a great team, but just can’t get enough customers, it’s a challenge,” he says. “So we believe with this particular program, bringing a customer to the table is going to be such value to those early stage businesses.”

Launched last week in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle, Jumpstart offers two different startup streams, the accelerator model and a scaleup bridge program. Both require ideas to fit into one of NRMA’s four program themes: connected cars, for “services across the lifecycle of a vehicle;” connected members, to “help and engage” NRMA members; member lifestyle, to “develop further services that enhance a member’s lifestyle;” and finally smart services, for “services that are proactively recommended” to members (this is viewed as the option for more thematically indistinct ideas.

The three-month accelerator program offers $30, 000 in funding, an additional three months of incubation, mentors, co-working space in either Sydney or Newcastle, and access to NRMA’s aforementioned 2.4 million members. Be aware that the program gives Slingshot 10% of a company’s equity, and, especially for our Queensland entrepreneurs, at least two members of a successful team will have to relocate to either Sydney or Newcastle.

Unlike the accelerator, the scaleup bridge program offers no funding and requires no equity or relocation. It instead emphasises the needs of existing businesses that have hit a wall, offering the access to NRMA customers “to both test on and sell products to” and a contracted outcome to become a NRMA supplier on commercial terms, after six months of mentorship.

Lambert says the initiative is designed for those “businesses that have a team, don’t need a coworking space, have got some customers and revenue and hit some really good milestones, but have plateaued”.

“The scale-up program kind of has the same theory [as the accelerator],” he says “But we’re getting to the next level of development that’s going on in Australia.”

It remains to be seen how effective NRMA’s customer base is for the successful teams, especially in return for the 10% equity stake, but chances are it’ll be useful for any products that fit the four themes. Application close November 14th, so if you’re interested get on it.

About Chris Woods

Chris Woods (@tophermwoods) is the Tech Street Journal's Editor-in-Chief. He lives in Brisbane, has worked in places like Sydney and New York (State of), and will someday update his media-news blog.