Do you think it’s time for Tasmania to have its own Startup Accelerator?

Building a tech startup in Tasmania is admittedly tough. Over the last 2 years, there have only been a handful of successful Tasmanian startups even though many people have shown interest in this space and want to take their first step but don’t know how.

How to apply, get in and then crush it in a venture accelerator
Yesterday, I happened to be in Melbourne at the same time Lean Startup held their “How to apply, get in and then crush it in a venture accelerator” Meetup event where over 200 attendees got together to listen to a panel of startup entrepreneurs share their experience on getting into a Startup accelerator and the journey involved.

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It was also interesting to hear from other start-ups, including what worked and what didn’t work for them. There was good energy in the room with lots of burning questions from determined entrepreneurs. And when you start hearing from the entrepreneurs about their failures and experiences, you can be sure it is not just entrepreneurs in Tasmania doing it tough.

As Angel Cube, a Melbourne-based accelerator, and the entrepreneurs talked about the details involving the ins and outs of working with a Startup Accelerator, it got me wondering whether it’s time for Tasmania to have its own Startup accelerator.

We know Tasmania had 2 incubators, Springboard and In-tellinc, which both typically mentored larger ventures, but now that Springboard has started winding down, perhaps there will be an opportunity for an accelerator program to fill the gap.

Looking at the current Tasmanian landscape, surely it is time for investors to bring Tasmania the seed stage investment it sorely needs by setting up it’s first accelerator and seed capital fund.

Don’t think it’s possible? Well, maybe for starters we should have a look at some of the Australian accelerators that were present at the event:

  • Startmate (@startmate), a Sydney based accelerator that runs a 5 month program focused on internet startups chasing large markets with technical founders. Typical terms are $50,000 investment for a 7.5% equity (includes two demo days, one in Sydney and one in Silicon Valley, trip included). Mentors of note include founders of Atlassian, Hitwise and Spreets, and partners at Southern Cross Ventures.
  • Angel Cube (@angelcubemelb), a Melbourne based accelerator that runs a 3 month intensive program. Typical terms are $20,000 investment for 10% equity. Includes a demo day to investors. Mentors of note include founders of 99Designs/Sitepoint, Stateless Systems and Crowdmass.

These accelerator programs are not looking for amazing ideas or people with tons of experience. They are looking for determined and smart founders who are quick to execute and has the drive and determination to succeed.

Such founders may or may not have a proven idea. But they do need to be able to demonstrate their ability to quickly test an idea in order to be able to find out if it will stick, if there will be any traction, and if it is scalable with a potential to go global.

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These accelerators want to find founders who are not afraid to make mistakes and, more importantly, they want to see them learn from mistakes, quickly.
But there’s a catch, which arguably may or may not be a bad thing. The catch is you need to be physically present in the city where the accelerator is based, or have the intention to move there during the program. And this is the reason why perhaps Tasmania should have a Startup Accelerator of its own.

So really, the issue isn’t funding or lack of talent. The real problem could stem from the sheer amount of work involved with creating an accelerator, or the lack of experience in the community. But, with regards to the latter, if we don’t start to make the first steps, how are we ever going to gain any experience?

Sourcing Mentors

How about mentors? Which is what these accelerators are really all about. For a Tasmanian Startup Accelerator to be successful, it will likely need to be able to harness its ability to help startups reach outside Tasmania and Australia.

In a limited market, going regional or global quickly and decisively is an essential part of proving ideas and gaining traction, hence the historical focus on outsourcing companies.

For optimised mentorship, the Tasmanian accelerator will need to have a “rolodex” of mentors and be able to source them from within Tasmania while continuously looking to connect with an international network of mentors.

The accelerator will also need to connect with grassroots techies, startups as well as small business communities to leverage the diaspora and tap into local entrepreneurs with potential Silicon Valley or global expertise.

The Tasmanian startup sector has been somewhat quiet, but momentum is building slowly, especially as innovative startups like AsdeqLabs demonstrate their ability to sell a visionary enterprise-level product to the world while operating in Tasmania.

When a startup accelerator exists in Tasmania, it will be interesting to see what kind of entrepreneurs apply to the first Tasmanian Startup Accelerator class. I would expect to see ideas in e-commerce, travel, and perhaps even more enterprise solutions in the midst of applicants.

So what do you think? Do you think it’s time for Tasmania to have its very own Startup Accelerator?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Constructive feedback and discussions will be greatly appreciated.

About the Author: Byron Teu is one of the co-founders of Startup Tasmania. He is a serial entrepreneur, an occasional investor, and he is addicted to building Startups. Byron is on Twitter! You can follow him via @byronteu