Welcome to our wrap up of week 6 of 14 for our River City Labs startup accelerator program! Lots of fun to share, so let’s get to it…
Binna Burra – 2 Day Retreat
Yes, thanks to the powers that be, our cohort was whisked away, Bachelorette-style, for a two day accelerator retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland at Binna Burra Mountain Lodge.
Inside the classroom, the most useful session was our “Brutally Honest Deep Dives”. This is where each team critiqued and gave ideas to the other.
No holds were barred, although the person that said “your branding is shit” probably wishes, in hindsight, that they’d rephrased their constructive criticism. Luckily, we all know each other well enough now to know that it was said with genuine intention and only meant to help in the long run.
Outside of the classroom, they threw us off a cliff (pun intended) and then took bets on our chances. (Guys, isn’t there another way we could support Puntaa’s new betting app?)
Richard played boomerang. For the record, yes, it did come back to him (…on the 21st time!).
Where did the boomerang land for the first 20 attempts?
Well, let’s just say that ProcessPA’s Matt Rowan climbed this tree more than once (smile).
In the evening, we had a cohort-bonding session over roast dinner…
And celebrated the birthday of young Damon Oudejans…
Day two’s outdoor session was archery. There was concern that it could have turned into The Hunger Games, but thankfully we all aimed forward… most of the time…
It was all a bit too much for Outbound’s supposedly-outdoorsy-guy Mark Cantoni. Despite his tough exterior, maybe Mark prefers desk work after all?
A few days later, it caught up with Guru Aaron too:
Brisbane Content Marketing Meetup – with Mel Kettle
Back at River City Labs, there were multiple events to attend (to see them all, it’s best to follow River City Labs on Twitter). Tuesday night saw Mel Kettle speak at the Brisbane Content Marketing Meetup.
Mel shared highlights from Darren Rowse’s Problogger 2015 conference. Main topics were apparently: Instagram; working with brands; Pinterest; email lists; creating content; monetising blogs; landing pages; podcasts; autoresponders; metrics; design basics; printables; creating your voice; and maintaining good health. Mel was particularly inspired by guest speaker Ruth Soukup’s summary of “5 Ordinary Habits of Extraordinary Bloggers”:
- Create amazing content
- Share consistently
- Maximise every opportunity
- Lead, don’t follow
- Pay it forward
Masterclasses from Bank of Queensland
BOQ’s financially savvy Rick Egan gave us our accelerator a masterclass on financial statements…
Followed by BOQ’s Dave McAdam, Karl Clements and Teira Dillon giving us a masterclass on negotiation…
The Big RiverPitch Event
The much-anticipated, bi-yearly RiverPitch event was held in New Farm cinemas, bringing together pre-screened investors to hear (and potentially invest in) the following five finalists:
YourGrocer : Home delivery from the local shops you love
Way We Do : cloud based standard operating procedures software
Fewzion : Like Atlassian, but for blue collar work forces
MOVUS : The Fitbit for industrial equipment, called FitMachine
Carhood : A marketplace for people to share and rent out their vehicles
How To Grow Your Startup – with Air Tree Ventures
On Thursday, some fortunate accelerator (and resident RCL) teams scored one-on-one deep dive sessions with Craig Blair and Paul Bennetts from AirTree Ventures (thanks guys!), who flew up from Sydney to keep their ears to the ground on Brisbane’s startup scene. This was followed by a general audience session that evening on “How to grow your startup”. Gems of the evening session included:
- In the early days, it’s better to obsess about relationships and product/market fit, because it’s easy to pour marketing money in later on when you know something works, than the other way around
- Similarly, focus on lower initial revenue, but higher repeats, rather than higher initial revenue but no repeats
- One of your first 4-5 employees should be an Office Manager, who can free you from the daily, nitty gritty, organisational tasks that stop you from building your business to the next level
- In the next 10-20 employees, think about something who can be a full-time A/B tester and data guru
- Most small companies sit at 6-7 employees for too long – don’t fall into that trap
- Many startups quit too early – they give up when they go through the “trough of disillusionment” part of the startup cycle, before they reach the highly lucrative “slope of enlightenment” part of the cycle
- In the Australian startup scene, the number of investments is going up, but the size of each investment is going down (mainly because it costs less these days to start and scale a startup)
Beware! The Pre-Money Trap
One of the most important traps Craig Blair warned us to avoid was the pre-money trap (aka where startups take early money at inflated valuations). He said that whilst it might feel like you hit the jackpot early, it could severely limit your ability to secure follow-on funding, so be careful what you let go of, and when.
AirTree Ventures is a $60m venture capital fund that is focused on investing in growth stage businesses that are disrupting traditional markets. First year investments were: Canva; DesignCrowd; PawShake; TidyMe, Glam Corner; Edrolo; Brosa; Ento; HotDoc; and Prospa.
GreenSocks and Outbound star on ABC Radio Gold Coast
Thanks to host Col and ABC Radio’s weekly “Tech Update with Aaron Birkby”, Ryan and I got our startups a mention on Gold Coast radio. (Well, the segments were pre-recorded for future weeks, but we will get mentions soon).
Friday Open House Drinks – River City Labs
Thanks to everyone at RCL for another fun night of mingling at the Labs…
6 Unexpected Insights from Week 6
- Aaron Birkby (River City Labs) used to have a weekend breakfast show on community radio
- Matt Rowan (ProcessPA) had a kidney removed at age one and still has the scar to prove it
- Ryan Hanly (Outbound) was Josh Anthony’s (River City Labs) P.E. teacher in high school
- Richard (GreenSocks) dreams of becoming an author of entrepreneurial books for children
- Britney Marsden (ParkFit) was hospitalised for a year (!) at age 9 and nearly died from cat scratch disease
- Aaron Birkby comes from a real-life Brady Bunch family (…which one were you Aaron?)
And, that’s a wrap!
Thanks Everyone for your support and have another awesome week!
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