Six weeks ago, we saw a promo for the River City Labs startup accelerator in Brisbane. It sounded pretty sweet – muru-D (the startup accelerator backed by Telstra) and River City Labs were offering to each invest $10k in exchange for a 1.5% equity stake in five lucky startups. So we went along to one of their pitch nights and much to our surprise, won our way onto the pre-program bootcamp.
Long story short, GreenSocks survived bootcamp (despite mentor advice overwhelm, the threat of a mentor veto vote, the process of merciless pitch critiquing and the final pitch in front of VIP judges such as Shark Tank Australia’s Steve Baxter). Woohoo! Thanks River City Labs and muru-D.
Fellow Boot Camp Survivors
Outbound – a social network for travellers to connect and share experiences
ParkFit – a mobile app that helps you discover crowdsourced outdoor workout structures
Puntaa – a social betting app for you and your mates to be on anything via mobile app
Process PA – (formerly Otheyos) – a SaaS company looking to simplify P&C/P&F/Parent Council meetings and legal accountability
The Accelerator Has Started
Fast forward two weeks and today was day 1 of 70 in the River City Labs startup accelerator program – for GreenSocks and our fellow bootcamp survivors.
It was an exciting day – full of possibility about what was to come.
Here are some of today’s personalities and insights:
Chris Hood – Y Combinator alumni
Fresh off the plane (almost) from Silicon Valley, Chris Hood (Go1) joined us to share some insights from his experience on the prestigious Y Combinator program:
- Focus on the product – make something people love
- Make quick decisions
- As soon as possible, get your own premises so you can build your own company culture
- Don’t get distracted with fundraising during the program
Aaron Birkby – River City Labs
Aaron Birkby – the main facilitator of the River City Labs accelerator – talked about protocol and respect when you reach out to some of the accelerator’s long list of amazing mentors. He emphasised the importance of “warm introductions” and encouraged us to try to be referred wherever possible. Aaron also claimed that “your business model is your product, your [physical] product is not your product”. Food for thought.
In terms of managing your time, Aaron shared a question used at Startmate: “If you valued your time at $500 per hour, how would you manage your day (in terms of work versus socialising)?”
Caitlin Fitzsimmons – BRW
Somehow we scored an impromptu visit from BRW’s online editor Caitlin Fitzsimmons (aka one of those high-profile business journalists in Australia that every innovative entrepreneur would love on their speed dial). Each team got sixty seconds to pitch themselves onto Caitlin’s radar. Here’s our very own Richard Eastes, giving it his best shot. Go Richard!
Caitlin gave us a reality check about reaching out to journalists who receive hundreds of email pitches a day from startups who all claim to have the ‘next best idea’.
Her top three tips?
- Quickly articulate how you stand out from the big blue sea of good ideas out there.
- Don’t send generic press releases. If the email isn’t specific for the journalist, don’t bother.
- Social media outreach is fine. But if you nail it, you’ll be invited to email, so get the email right.
Specifically, what grabs Caitlin’s attention in a press pitch?
- Impressive traction and/or revenue
- Successful investment rounds
- Interesting back stories
- ‘Bounce-back from disaster’ stories – that teach and inspire
Jason Roulston – Just Digital People
Our final guest speaker for the day was Jason Roulston aka “Chief Trouble Maker” at Just Digital People (which by the way, is just one of Jason’s million-dollar-plus businesses – kudos to Jason!)
Jason came to give some tips on networking:
- Be super-interested in everyone else before expecting anyone to take an interest in you
- Be creative, be real and be consistent (C.R.C.)
- Follow up. And then follow up again. And again. (Most people are too lazy to.)
- His 20/20 hindsight? Earlier in your journey, keep notes on everyone you speak to
- Learn from the best: Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and Never Eat Alone‘s Keith Ferrazzi
Judging by day one, together with the pre-accelerator bootcamp (which was jammed full of a long list of awesome mentors), the next 69 days promise to be an incredible ride. Stay tuned and we’ll share as much as we can…