A new, Google Australia-sponsored start-up incubator program, Melbourne NEXT, will launch next week at the York Butter Factory co-working space.
The five-week program for 10 start-ups will focus on customer discovery, idea development, fundability, pitching and launch strategies.
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Event coordinator and community manager at Google Developer Group Leon Gouletsas told StartupSmart the program was specifically created for pre-accelerator or launch start-ups.
“This program is designed to address that post-idea pain point for entrepreneurs. It can be quite challenging to work out how to get into accelerators or what you require for early stage launch,” Gouletsas says. “They need a bit more idea refinement and business model development. We saw that gap, and we’re really keen to up the maturity of the Melbourne start-up scene.”
The program includes seven local mentors from entrepreneurial and investor backgrounds: Leni Mayo, Stuart Richardson, Nic Hodges, Laura McKenzie, Dave Slutzkin, Nathan Sampimon from Inspire9 and Marc Harrison.
This is the first time the international program has been run in Australia. Over 30,000 entrepreneurs have graduated from programs held in 25 countries.
“The first ever event was in the Middle East. It was deliberately chosen in some of the more interesting parts of the world because it seeks to bring together entrepreneurs regardless of background to work in collaboration,” Gouletsas says.
Gouletsas adds the program focuses on customer discovery strategies. He estimates the course will take 20 to 25 hours a week, including three hours of class time.
“What we’re really about is getting out of the classroom. The mentors are helping the entrepreneurs focus on value proposition development, and customer acquisition and segmentation opportunities. They’ll talk about what to do outside the building, and how to tackle these big questions,” Gouletsas says.
The program will not be requesting or seeking equity commitments from the program members. While the program isn’t specifically targeted at tech start-ups, Gouletsas they will be heavily favoured in the selection given the backgrounds of the mentors.
“The most important thing for us is they need to attend all the sessions, be fully committed and be ready to build their start-ups,” Gouletsas says.