How Startup Onramp plans to educate 1000 new tech founders on the most “predictable mistakes” of startups

Colin Kinner headshot

After working with hundreds of startup founders over the past decade, the author of StartupAUS Crossroads report has launched a program to help new tech founders avoid some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls made by early-stage startups.

Startup Onramp founder Colin Kinner, who received $25,000 in grant funding from Advance Queensland’s Startup Events and Activities Fund in March, has developed the 12-week startup program to help very early-stage startup founders in Australia gain the foundational skills and confidence to build ambitious ventures.

“We’re deliberately accepting only people that are building globally-focused, scalable tech companies,” Kinner tells StartupSmart.

The program’s first cohort will commence the program on May 16 at River City Labs, Brisbane, and Kinner is planning to replicate the program across Australia’s major cities and regional centres with the aim to graduate 1000 founders by 2019.

Fifteen first-time founders will be taken through a structured course of the entrepreneurial journey with lessons on evaluating startup ideas, finance, legal and marketing basics, and customer and product development, as well raising capital.

In addition to workshops, participants in the Brisbane program will receive support from Startup Onramp’s co-facilitator Peter Laurie and hear from guest speakers, including Shark Tank investor Steve Baxter and Blue Sky Venture Capital’s Dr Elaine Stead.

The course, which will cost founders between $2490 and $2990 to participate, ends with a pitch day on August 10, 2017.

“I think of it as a crash course in how to do a startup,” Kinner says.

“I’ve seen a lot of startup founders, some of them get it right and a lot of them get it very wrong.”

Enlightening new founders on “predictable mistakes”

A core focus of Startup Onramp will be shedding light on the “predictable mistakes” startup founders make, says Kinner.

Things new tech founders routinely get wrong range from “building a product that nobody wants” to splitting equity equally between all original founders, he says.

“When three founders get together, they issue a third of shares each and get cracking,” says Kinner.

“That’s normally a really bad idea.”

Usually, one founder will leave the startup in the first 12 months, says Kinner, so opting for a “founder vesting” structure where founders must earn equity over a period of three to four years is more sensible.

Through Startup Onramp, Kinner hopes to also expose aspiring startup founders to best-practice startup methods and the experience of serial entrepreneurs to ensure the ventures they build start with a strong foundation for success.

Kinner believes that Australia’s tech founder population needs to be at least 10 times bigger for it to “measure up globally”.

Because Australia’s startup sector is relatively young, Kinner says, there aren’t enough serial entrepreneurs around to guide first-time founders in tech.

“When we talk about up-skilling founders, they say the best advice comes from other founders and I always say to them yes, definitely get advice from other founders … but don’t take advice from a one-time founder, even if they’ve been successful,” he says.

“If you take advice from a one-time successful founder, it’s a bit like asking them what lottery numbers they used and using the same lottery numbers.”

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