This article was published on 9 January 2019
Applications open for founders to accelerate startups garage-to-global journey; customer acquisition focused accelerator programme supported by top entrepreneurs
ecentre, the business incubator hosted at Massey University, today announced the launch of Sprint Global 2019, an accelerator-style programme to help startups founders to go global faster. Sprint Global is open for applications for the February 2019 programme, with eight fully funded places available for founders seeking to hone their skills in customer acquisition, global market entry and building startup networks.
“Sprint Global is designed for the New Zealand startup context and focuses on founders who have a working prototype and are ready to engage with the market in New Zealand or overseas,” says Jackie Young, CEO of ecentre Ltd. “We take early stage startups with a validated business model, and accelerate their customer acquisition and global expansion by providing access to mentors, sector experts, investors and other resources.”
The Sprint Global programme is run over two separate eight-week rounds, and is highly flexible to fit in with founders from around New Zealand. The first programme for early stage customer acquisition runs 18 February to 12 April 2019 and a follow on programme for global customer acquisition runs 13 May to 5 July 2019. Founders can largely complete the programme remotely, with the option to complete either one or both rounds.
There has never been a better time to build startups according to Young. “There are no barriers to going global from day one. Our fantastic line up of mentors quite literally have a whole world of experience. We’ll match each founder to a mentor who can share their short-cuts and smart-cuts to building global businesses from New Zealand,” says Young.
“Founders will be able to ask all their burning questions about the journey ahead, such as, ‘How do I grow my customer base?’, ‘Am I going global fast enough?’, ‘Am I connected enough locally and globally?’ .”
Over 20 top entrepreneurs and experts have signed on as mentors to share their hard earned learning experiences from their own entrepreneurial journeys.
“Getting the fundamentals right early on and creating value for customers that generates revenue is a great way to validate a business,” says Sprint Global mentor Sarah Perry, Co-founder and Chair of SnapComms and Author of ‘BRAVE Bootstrapping. How to Grow a Global Tech. Business without VCs’.
“Entrepreneurship is in our core in New Zealand, so we need to focus on what we’re good at – innovative products – and find innovative ways to access customers that suit the business, rather than copying the one-size-fits-all Silicon Valley investment playbook. Sprint Global’s customer acquisition focus can also put the business in a stronger position to take on investment later on,” says Perry, who helped build SnapComms into a global success through clever sales and marketing. The company’s innovative internal communication software has over 2 million paid users in 75 countries.
Sprint Global is an iteration of previous ecentre Sprint programmes, with successful ecentre alumni including inventory management software company Unleashed Software, website and ecommerce company Zeald, horticulture software startup Dataphyll and student discount platform Niesh.
For Niesh, the programme culminated in a collaboration that brought together 15 entrepreneurs, investors, academics and government representatives with startup experience to answer the question “where to grow next.” Co-founder Jae Yoo says, “We initially thought we just needed to spend more time to work through issues, but what we needed to be successful was the right assistance to identify not only where to grow, but also when.” Niesh has 37,500 student users on its platform and is growing at 300% per annum. In late 2018 the company secured $1 million of seed capital.
Young says, “Our new Sprint Global programme is very much a collaborative effort to help shape new startups in the ecosystem. We’re pleased that founders have the chance to take part with no fees and no equity through the support of Massey University, Callaghan Innovation, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and other partners committed to developing New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Preference will be given to applicants from New Zealand-registered early stage technology-enabled businesses in B2B or B2B2C markets that have global growth potential.”
The Sprint Global programme design is informed by research conducted by Massey University and ecentre into local investor behaviours and preferences, along with global innovation ecosystem benchmark data from UBI Global and Startup Genome. ecentre receives funding through Callaghan Innovation’s Founder Incubation Programme to help startups commercialise their great ideas faster and effectively. Partnerships with other key government agencies and organisations provide additional access to startup-specific resources.
Participants of Sprint Global are also given the opportunity to take part in an in-market immersion week in Silicon Valley during October 2019, including attending the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Online applications for Sprint Global 2019’s programme starting 18 February, close on 31 January 2019.