Start-up mentorship network PushStart has launched its first accelerator seed fund, which will hand pick budding entrepreneurs to receive $20,000 in funding and access to a heavy-hitting group of mentors.
The scheme, which will be modelled on the successful TechStars and YCombinator in the US, will accept up to 10 early-stage tech businesses, which will each give up 8% equity in return for the investment and mentoring.
Mentors who have signed up to aid the chosen start-ups include Matt Barrie, founder of Freelancer.com, Rebekah Campbell, founder of Posse and Nikki Durkin, the 99Dresses creator who was recently accepted into the YCombinator scheme.
PushStart, which launched in March this year, has evolved its offering from a network of mentors linked to start-ups to include initiatives such as mentor “speed dating”, where entrepreneurs can meet a series of industry experts over the course of an evening.
The new accelerator, however, is potentially the most significant development yet by PushStart, emulating the seed funds run by the likes of Startmate and AngelCube.
Selected start-ups will spend three months in a Sydney location and provided with free office space, business services and access to around 40 mentors.
Kim Heras, managing director of PushStart, says that the seed fund, due to start in March, was designed to not clash with the looming Startmate program, which is set to kick off its second incarnation in January.
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“We don’t see them as competitors – we think it’s great that there’s another option for start-ups,” says Heras.
“I think there’s even more room in the market. If you look at the start-ups taken in by Startmate and AngelCube, there’s about 16 of them. We’ve seen hundreds of start-ups through PushStart and I’d definitely find more than 16 that I would invest in.”
Heras says that the accelerator will look for tech start-ups across a range of areas, including community, networks and data.
“The most important thing is the founding team,” he says. “They have to be well rounded and coachable. We’ll look to take on up to 10, but it may be less than that.”
“The teams need to show that they are action-driven, that they can take advice and they have a passion for solving problems.”
“The reality is that the majority of tech start-ups fail. So, if they do, we want them to fail big – we don’t want them to play it safe. They’ve got three months – they need to go for it.”
Applications for the accelerator are open until January 27, with start-ups selected from mid-February. For more information, click here.