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Preaccelerator program prepares startups for bigger things

Cairns co-working hub theSPACE has finished running its first “preaccelerator program,” Startup Basecamp.

A first for the city, Startup Basecamp was designed to build capacity amongst budding entrepreneurs as a lead up to more demanding programs like ilab’s Germinate program, which last year pushed for more regional startups.

“We submitted a number of applications for the last summer intake of Germinate, and from that we identified there was plenty of willingness and people wanting to be involved,” theSPACE founder Troy Haines said. “But the capacity of ideas wasn’t to a level that it needed to be.”

“So we’re  working with ilab to help run these preaccelerator type programs to build capacity, to have people’s ideas more developed for the program,” he said.

Preaccelerator programs are ideal for new or early stage entrepreneurs, and Startup Basecamp follows a number of similar international programs –  The Wall Street Journal’s David Cohen provides an excellent overview of the need for these early (and later) stage accelerator programs.

Startup Basecamp finished last week after four weeks of both educational and practical sessions. Topics included: “Agile Planning,” which explained how the Lean Canvas can be used to screen ideas and structure business models; “Market Validation;” “Creating the Dream Team;” and “Pitching,” which detailed how to put together elevator pitches, one minute pitches and five minute pitches.

Haines, citing a number of pivots and one participant’s $8000 sale, stresses that the emphasis was on guiding a business methodology, specifically flexibility and market validation, over just working on the product.

“Startups fail, but the reality is following this methodology of being willing to let go of a product or let go of those customers, we should have a 100% success rate,” Haines said. “Because people will continue to pivot until they get that product market fit.”

The seventeen teams included beginner entrepreneurs looking to explore the space; emerging startups still growing their products, such as collaborative consumption platform ShareStuff; and more established companies looking to further validate their business ideas, such as the meeting platform and StartupSmart Award nominee Konveen.

The program concluded with a final pitch night to key stakeholders, and while Haines hopes a number of teams will now apply for Germinate, his focus remains on providing a “runway” for early ideas with more preaccelerator programs to come.

“It’s invaluable this processes,” Haines said. “We’re building capacity, we’re actually building entrepreneurs and teaching entrepreneurship,”

“We’d like to work with ilab to repeat this at least every 6 months as a lead up to the accelerator/germinate program,” he said. “It’s invaluable to building a startup ecosystem.”

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.