Startups looking to use tech to empower those with disabilities, help young people save, and revolutionise the way we use Post-It notes, are among the 25 startups to have graduated from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Hatchery+ accelerator program in its first year.
The Hatchery+ accelerator ran its first pilot accelerator in early 2016, and from last year’s two cohorts, 13 out of the 15 participating startups are still active and have raised close to $1.8 million in funding, according to UTS.
These 13 startups have also generated close to $1.31 million in revenue, and created 67 paid and internship positions, the university says. The three-month accelerator has just graduated its latest cohort of 10 startups, including augmented reality startup WallSync, which took out the top $5000 prize at the accelerator’s most recent demo day.
Geoff Bullen is the co-founder of WallSync. He says universities play a key role in fostering entrepreneurial thinking, with the next generation of university students looking for alternatives to the traditional degree.
“From a demand side you can see that the next generation coming through is going to demand more and more to be supported and do things on their own … people want extra flexibility [in their degrees] and the traditional jobs are more under threat,” Bullen tells StartupSmart.
It was during Bullen’s time completing a Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship at UTS that WallSync participated in the Hatchery+ program. Bullen bills the startup as a “way to create a mirrored version of Post-It notes in the virtual world” with the app using augmented reality software to scan Post-It notes directly into project management tools.
Bullen says the three-month program at UTS provided the motivation to persevere with his startup when times were tough, while also providing him with a vital internal support network.
“Between the 10 startups [in the program], I got a lot of support from the other [founders and mentors], which keeps you going when your motivation wanes,” Bullen says.
He also says there are “certainly advantages to being aligned with universities” as they can offer access to research connections and much-needed credibility for early-stage startups.
“It makes it a lot easier to make connections, and it gives you credibility,” Bullen says.
After taking out the top spot at the Hatchery+ demo day, Bullen says WallSync is now set to launch its offerings as an ‘Innovation Partner’ at the Atlassian Global Summit in San Jose on September 26.
Bullen says that the startup will be travelling to the summit to gain traction in the US for the WallSync platform, adding that while Atlassian is a global tech success story, the team there still “have that culture of being part of the [Australian startup] community, helping people, supporting good ideas.”
The startup will be launching through Atlassian’s plug-in store, Bullen says, where startups sell products that integrate with Atlassian’s platforms. While the WallSync platform will be available for sale worldwide, Bullen says the startup plans to focus its expansion efforts in Sydney and Melbourne for the time being.
The Hatchery+ accelerator program is supported by the UTS Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creative Intelligence Unit, and provides teams with $2000 in seed funding, co-working space and mentors and advisors.
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To be accepted into the Hatchery+ program each startup needs at least one co-founder who is a current UTS student, alumni or staff member, and this has seen a range of co-founders emerge from all faculties and disciplines, according to UTS.
To date, 60% of Hatchery+ startup founders have been female, according to the university, which is more than double the national average reported in Startup Muster’s latest startup ecosystem survey.