Over the past 90 days, my team has been searching high and low across Australia to find and recruit VR/AR and real estate startups to the Village Xperience and Charter Hall PropTech corporate accelerator programs respectively.
It all began when we sat down with Jon Satterly (Chief Digital Officer at Village) and Aidan Coleman (CIO/CTO at Charter Hall) to better understand these organisations and their objectives.
Both wanted to partner with startups to gain more exposure to emerging tech and talent and to foster new, strategically aligned and commercially viable relationships. Partnering with startups was also seen as an opportunity to learn from ‘how the other half lives’ and to embed some of that thinking and doing back into the mothership.
We leveraged our extended networks, various marketing channels growth hacks to spread the word to as many aligned startups as possible, reaching over 300 in the process. When all was said and done, we received 96 applications across the two programs. These applications came from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth with several coming from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and India.
The value of any corporate startup partnership is amplified considerably when there is some form of synergy between the two.
We sat down with senior leadership from both companies to better understand their business models, not only today, but where they saw them going tomorrow. Gaining an appreciation for their corporate strategy, value chain, target customer segments and overarching value proposition helped us to better evaluate the startups.
We were stoked with the response but then realised that we had 96 applications to review. 😱
At this stage, my team was left with the unenviable task of reviewing almost 100 applications against a criteria that included value proposition, management team, market validation and traction, marketing strategy, revenue model, future potential and scalability, defensibility and of course, business model alignment with our partner corporates.
We made sure to look at these applications through a few lenses, with my team ‘working alone together’ to review applications individually, before comparing notes and calling out any significant discrepancies and having a conversation around “why did you rate them highly? or “why on earth did you give them such a low score?”
After a subsequent round of evaluations, we presented our shortlist back to Village and Charter Hall who would then work with us to finalise the shortlist.
Then there were 32.
We invited 32 shortlisted startups (17 for Village, 15 for Charter Hall) along to Collective Campus for a two day bootcamp.
The bootcamp served to hone the startup business models, taking a deep dive into every aspect of their business, as well as get to better know the people behind the startups - which is after all, the most important aspect behind any pursuit, entrepreneurial or otherwise.
These two bootcamps culminated with a pitch night at Telstra Labs and Charter Hall HQ respectively, where each startup had just 3 minutes to walk attendees through their business model and why they should be given an opportunity to participate in the accelerator program proper.
Fortunately, technical difficulties were kept to a minimum (sans some clicker issues, oh and digital mics will be digital mics!), and we got through both rounds of pitches on just about one hour, before closing the night out with some moving and shaking over drinks.
We’re about to embark on the accelerator program proper, kicking off in March. The final 12 startups will receive in 13 weeks of mentorship, education and coaching to help them level up. The purpose of the programs is to help the startups find product market fit, or scale up, and raise capital accordingly come the Demo Day at the end of the program.
They will do this not only by leveraging our insights but by also tapping into the vast networks, assets and domain expertise of our corporate partners.
Charter Hall is also incubating an internal project team, who will also benefit from the coaching and training provided throughout, in a bid to move their concept from idea to minimum viable product, as quickly, effectively and cheaply as possible and test market appetite.
It’s going to be a madhouse at CCHQ with 12 startups and more than 30 new faces moving in to call us home until May.
We’ve compiled a star studded lineup of mentors to help the startups too, including the likes of Jeremy Bailenson (Stanford VR lab and founder of STRIVR), Lawrence Crumpton (Microsoft evangelist), John Sietsma (Unity evangelist), Benjamin Chong (partner @ Right Click Capital), Jonathan Hannan (MD @ Taronga Group), Nick Austin (founder of Divvy Parking), Gabrielle McMillan (founder of Equiem) and numerous others, including a cast of employees from Village and Charter Hall, who will be able to provide industry specific knowledge and guidance.
I’m excited and can’t wait to work with some incredibly visionary and talented people to bring something new and valuable to the world by leveraging the complementary strengths of both the startup and corporate worlds.