The ANZ Innovyz START accelerator program, the Adelaide-based start-up program that’s based on the US incubator TechStars, was confirmed for another year at the graduation of the program’s inaugural class.
The program started in February this year. The 10 companies which graduated range from a marketplace for pre-loved baby items to a farm business management software provider and include international as well as Australian companies.
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The 10 companies have been working with over 30 Australian and international mentors over the past three months to refine their business models and shape their marketing and product strategies.
The graduates are vocal about the benefits of the program.
“Our business model has evolved to a much bigger opportunity than we ever imagined,” said Alex French, chief executive of The Captioning Studio, one of the ten graduates.
“With the help of the mentors, we’ve developed a business with multiple revenue streams that has already generated interest from investors.”
Sherisse Hawkins, chief executive of US-based company Beneath the Ink, said she chose to apply for the program because of its international outlook.
“I wanted to start my company in an accelerator that was more international than the ones in the USA tend to be.”
“I feel fortunate to have been in an accelerator with people from such diverse backgrounds and from eight different countries.”
The program has also generated interest from the Australian investor community, with an audience of over 300 people including over 100 potential investors attending the “pitch day” graduation for the program at the Adelaide Town Hall.
“It’s an enormous benefit to have the support of the program and be introduced to investors in Australia, rather than having to head overseas to identify potential investors,” said Mike Krause, chief executive of Plan2Profit Agri.
Dr Jana Matthews, ANZ Innovyz START program director, said the graduating companies had impressed with their diligence and commitment.
“The mentors spent a total of 150 days working with the companies in Adelaide, followed by weekly meetings in person or on Skype after they returned home. In fact, two of the mentors are considering relocating to Adelaide.”
ANZ general manager for small business Nick Reade said the bank was so pleased with the program’s success that it would run a second ANZ Innovyz START program in Adelaide, starting in January 2013.
ANZ and Innovyz are also launching three-day leadership forums to address issues of growth. The forums will use the peer-to-peer learning program that the ANZ Innovyz Start program is based on.
Reade said the bank recognised the benefit of a strong entrepreneurial network to the Australian economy.
“The ANZ Innovyz Leadership Forums will provide an opportunity to bring like-minded start-up and early-growth phase companies together to learn how to better manage the challenges of growth.”